Categories
Booking Strategy Budget Travel

Bereavement Fares: 2 U.S. Airlines Still Offer Discounts for Grieving Passengers

Bereavement fares, so-called because they offer some form of discounted travel if you are suddenly called to a relative’s funeral, were once a common offering among U.S. airlines. Now, however, there are currently only two large U.S. airlines that offer bereavement fares.

The 2 U.S. Airlines That Offer Bereavement Fares

Alaska gives 10 percent off the lowest refundable fare, but only seven days or less before travel, with seats subject to availability and length of stay limitations.

Delta offers unspecified “additional flexibility on the best published fares,” also with seats subject to availability.

You can’t book these bereavement fares online—you have to call the reservation center. And be prepared to provide documentation, including dates, relationship to the deceased, and notifications by a doctor and mortuary.

Other airlines stress that they routinely offer low fares to everybody, and even Alaska and Delta note that you can often do better with “anyone” fares than the relatively modest discounts offered by formalized bereavement fares.

Why Bereavement Fares Are No Longer Offered by Most Airlines

Just about everybody agrees that the reason most airlines have dropped bereavement fares is the administrative difficulty. The airlines found that policing “desktop forging” of doctor and funeral home documents was impossible.

What to Do If You Need a Bereavement Fare

If you’re suddenly called to a funeral, your best bet is to follow these five steps:

  1. Figure out feasible itineraries on any airline that can get you where you have to go.
  2. Check the lowest openly available airfare that can meet your needs.
  3. If either Alaska or Delta serves your route, call that airline for a bereavement fare quote. Also, if your destination is outside the U.S., call a foreign airline; a few still offer bereavement deals.
  4. Take the best deal available. In most cases, even when an airline offers a minor bereavement fare discount, the “anybody” fare is likely to be best.
  5. If you can’t find an acceptable fare, you may have to skip the event or drive (if feasible).

More from SmarterTravel:

[st_deals_search search_type=air]

By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *