Flying is stressful and with the addition of the loss of a loved one, last-minute flying to make final arrangements or to attend a funeral can make the stress overwhelming. Years ago, mostly all airlines offered something called bereavement airfare to help mitigate the cost as well as give flexibility to travel dates.
Unfortunately, with the rise in ticket costs, the birth of discount airlines, and economy ticket options, some airlines have either chosen to do away with or not offer bereavement airfare at all. The good news is that with the advent of economy and discount travel, sometimes it is less expensive to travel via these routes. If a discount just won’t cut it, and you are looking for the flexibility or extra compassion of a bereavement ticket, we can tell you how to obtain this special airfare.
Airlines Offering Bereavement Airfare
Delta Air Lines
For immediate family members who have passed, Delta offers bereavement fares for both domestic and international flights. They ask that you contact them via Delta Reservations immediately and travel within seven days of the death of the family member.
To qualify you must be a SkyMiles member and be able to provide a contact at the funeral home, hospital or hospice. While the actual price of a ticket will vary, a bereavement fare provides flexibility to both outbound and return flights by waiving service fees, the same pricing for children, and upgrades for Medallion members.
Air Canada specifies that they offer reduced rates to immediate family members who have experienced a loss or imminent loss. You can purchase tickets over the phone or in-person only and will need to provide either funeral home or hospital and doctor details. Bereavement fares apply to any economy class fare except North America Basic fare and must occur within 10 days of booking.
You may request past travel fares for reduced bereavement rates by filling out a form within 90 days of the issue date of the ticket. Air Canada does not mention any flexibility in travel dates.
In the event of the passing of a family member abroad, Lufthansa offers immediate family access to special discounts for round trip tickets to attend funerals. Details about Lufthansa’s bereavement fares are only available by calling their reservations line at 800-645-3880 or by visiting a desk at the airport. This offer is only available to customers in the United States and Canada who will be traveling internationally for the funeral.
For immediate family members who are experiencing a loss or imminent loss or for those who wish to attend a civic funeral for a firefighter, police officer, military personnel, or emergency services personnel who have died in the line of duty, WestJet offers bereavement fares.
These tickets are available on Econo, EconoFlex, and Premium fares, require that you travel within 14 days of booking (both outbound and return flights), and offer fee-free flexibility. WestJet specifies that you may find a lower fare on their website, but those tickets will be subject to change fees.
Alaska Airlines offers immediate family members 10% off the lowest priced fare available within 7 days of travel to members of their free Mileage Plan program. You must purchase the ticket over the phone and cannot be applied to past travel.
American, Southwest, and United Airlines
Unfortunately, American Airlines ended their bereavement fare in 2014 and Southwest does not offer them at all, but if you have already purchased tickets with these airlines and must change them due to death or imminent passing, they may waive change fees for the flights. Contact customer service via phone and explain your situation.
United Airlines was another airline that axed their bereavement fares in 2014, but instead of maybe waiving change fees for plans affected by family emergencies, United instituted a refund request form on their website to help families affected by this change.
Try to Find a Deal
If a bereavement fare does not work out, there are still plenty of ways to find inexpensive last-minute airfare. Some tips for booking economical short-notice airline tickets:
- Try using a flight map. Skyscanner and Google Flights have tools that can help you locate better deals at different airports. It may be more cost-efficient to fly into an airport an hour away and rent a car.
- Fly when others don’t want to. Sometimes a red-eye flight or one that starts early in the morning can be cheaper than one during normal business hours. These flights tend to have unfilled seats that the airlines want occupied.
- Use those miles. Consider using your credit card rewards or miles to offset the cost of the flight if you are unable to afford to pay upfront or don’t want to charge it.
- Follow airlines on social media. Airlines companies often post last-minute deals on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Consider following airlines that fly to your destination to save on last-minute trips.
For any assistance with providing mortuary services in the loss of a loved one in the San Antonio and surrounding areas, contact Castle Ridge Mortuary today.