October 17, 2011

Airline Bereavement Fares

When a loved one who lives far away passes may want to take a trip to attend the funeral.   However air fares purchased with short notice are often very expensive fares.   For this reason airlines have traditionally offered special 'bereavement' fares that offer discounted rates for people traveling to attend the funeral of a family member.  

Recently my wife and I had to attend a funeral half way across the country.   We made use of a bereavement fare from American Airlines and it cut about 33% off the cost of our tickets.   The tickets would have cost around $750 normally if I'd purchased them via online brokers but the bereavement rate fares were only about $500.

The policies for bereavement fares differ depending on the airline.   Generally they allow certain family members of the deceased to get a discount ticket.  The airline may also require some information or proof about the deceased such name, address and phone number of a funeral home.

The bereavement fare rate may or may not be the cheapest fare.   Some of the airlines offer a rate that is 50% off the full fare rate.   That may be better or worse than the discount fares.   Make sure to check the discount rates first so you know what you'd pay otherwise before booking a bereavement fare rate.

Many airlines no longer offer bereavement fares but some still do.

Airlines that offer Bereavement Fares

American Airlines - call for reservations and pricing
Continental - online booking with discounts of 5% off for fares under $500, 10% for fares up to $1000 and 20% for fares $1,000 or more
Delta Air - call for reservations and pricing
United - call for reservations 10% off any published fare within 6 days of travel.

Airlines that do NOT offer bereavement fares

As far as I can find these airlines have no bereavement rates:
AirTran, Alaska, Frontier,  Jetblue, Southwest, US Airways

This list is not meant to cover all airlines of course and the policies may change over time.  

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