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:
- Figure out feasible itineraries on any airline that can get you where you have to go.
- Check the lowest openly available airfare that can meet your needs.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you can’t find an acceptable fare, you may have to skip the event or drive (if feasible).