Back in the day, if you had a funeral to go to and had to book a last-minute flight, many U.S. airlines would give you a discount known as a bereavement fare. This helped out many people who lived away from their families, as they were able to say goodbye to their loved one without having to pay an arm and a leg.
Unfortunately, those days are nearly gone. Now, a plane ticket to attend a funeral or visit a relative in the hospital is the same as if you were booking a last-minute vacation. That means in order to get a discount on your flight, you’ll have to cash in your frequent flyer miles, find a travel package (such as a hotel + flight), or try find a flight on a discount airline.
Today, only two major U.S. airlines offer bereavement flights – Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines. However, it’s not usually much better than a regular ticket. In an article by the Associated Press, airfarewatchdog.com founder George Hobica says the tickets are only slightly discounted walk-up fares, which are usually pretty costly to begin with.
It’s also believed that Virgin America offers discounts for bereavement tickets, but passengers must book within seven days of travel and must provide documentation that proves the nature of their trip.
One of the main reasons for the end of bereavement flights is due to airlines afraid of passengers ripping them off; it’s fairly easy to say you’ve lost a loved one and need a last-minute flight and then use that flight for a getaway instead. Some believe another reason for the diminish is the addition of discount airlines. Since there are ways to score affordable, last-minute flights through these airlines, a special bereavement fare isn’t needed.
If you’re in need of a last-minute fare, you could always check the airline’s website or call them directly to discuss your options. And according to that same article, “Delta does offer more schedule flexibility for the return flight by waiving service fees, but the customer must pay the difference if they change to a higher-priced flight. The policy covers a funeral or visiting a relative near death.”