Bereavement airfares (also known as compassionate airfares) are given to family members who need to fly to the funeral of a loved one or to visit one who is gravely ill. Proof of death or illness, as well as kinship is usually needed to receive the discounted fare, which in most cases is 50 percent of the price of a last-minute ticket.
About Bereavement Airfares
If you are in the situation where you need to purchase a bereavement fare, there are few things to keep in mind:
- Have a friend or other family member help book the flight. Because of the emotional aspect of purchasing this ticket, you need to spend your time packing and getting ready to leave.
- They are not always the cheapest fare, but they can be purchased at any time, even right up to the time the plane departs.
- Each airline has its own discount, so it may not always be half-off.
- If you need to change planes and carriers throughout your journey, you will need to purchase a bereavement fare ticket for each leg of your flight, but only if you switch airlines.
- Compassionate fares tend to be more flexible, allowing free tickets changes and stays of up to 30 days with no minimum requirement.
- Depending on which airline you choose, your discount may be refunded until after you complete your round-trip travel; inquire about maximum stays.
- Bereavement fares are not always available on international flights.
- It is easier to book your flight in-person or on the phone, especially if you need to provide specific information regarding the illness or death.
Additional Information May Be Needed
The following information about your family member may be needed:
- Name of and relationship to the relative
- Name, address and telephone number of the funeral home, hospice, or hospital
- Name of doctor (if applicable)
Who Is Eligible?
Depending on the airline, the family member eligibility list may be broader or more limited than the following list which includes:
- Domestic partner
- Son or daughter
- Sister or brother
- Stepbrother or stepsister
- Aunt or uncle
- Niece or nephew
- Mother- or father-in-law
- Son- or daughter-in-law
- Brother- or sister-in-law
Airlines That Offer Bereavement Fares
There are fewer airlines offering bereavement fares. A few that still do include:
- Air Canada will provide reduced bereavement fares for immediate family members.
- Alaska Airlines bereavement fare is a 10% discount on airfare for the immediate family.
- Delta Airlines offers a bereavement fare policy. The fares may vary in price but allows flexibility with booking in order to accommodate these unfortunate, unexpected, emergency travel plans.
- Hawaiian Airlines offers bereavement fares only for neighbor island travel between the Hawaiian Islands.
- Lufthansa Airlines offers special fares if immediate family members need to travel due to a death abroad.
- WestJet Airlines provides bereavement fares and offers maximum booking flexibility with no fees.
Airline Specific Rules Regarding Compassionate Fares
While there is an overall industry standard regarding bereavement fares, each airline also has its own regulations. A few examples of these policies include:
- Air Canada offers reduced bereavement fares. This will apply to any flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge and Air Canada Express. The policy will apply to bereavement travel that occurs within 10 days of booking.
- Alaska Airlines bereavement fare is a 10% discount off the lowest airfare available. This will apply to travel that occurs within seven days of booking. You must be a member of the free Mileage Plan Program to receive the special fares but you can join immediately and receive the discount. You also must purchase the airfare by phone.
- Delta Airlines offers a bereavement fare policy which provides flexibility for your outbound and return flights but the fares will vary in price. You must call Delta reservations when booking these flights so the bereavement policy can be applied accordingly. These tickets are subject to availability. It is also recommended that you check the website for possible lower fares.
- Lufthansa Airlines offers bereavement fares for outbound and return flights to immediate family if their travel begins in the U.S. or Canada. It is recommended that you call Lufthansa reservations for more information and to make the booking.
Airlines That Don't Offer Compassionate Fares
Over the years as the competition for cheaper airline tickets has skyrocketed, several discount airlines have opted out of offering bereavement fares since lower-priced, last-minute tickets may already be available. For example, JetBlue bereavement fares do not exist because the airline claims that their fares are already as low as they can make them. But it appears more airlines in general are opting out of the bereavement fare option. Airlines that currently do not offer bereavement fares include:
- Allegiant Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Frontier Airlines
- JetBlue Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
- Virgin Airlines
Even though these airlines don't offer bereavement fares, they may offer flexibility when scheduling your trip due to the circumstances.
Research and Ask Questions
Research is key here when looking for a bereavement fare. You may find a normal fare on another airline that is lower than the bereavement fare that you are being offered. Ask questions and don't forget to read the small print -- rules and restrictions that will apply.