Bereavement Faresby david daly on 11/04/11
Last week a friend had to suddenly cancel her trip to Miami due to the death of a great aunt. We have all seen the Seinfeld where George tries to get a discounted bereavement fare, but do these discounts really exist? Apparently they do, but they are not easy to get.
In the case of my friend, she merely needed to cancel her flight in order to remain in New York for the funeral services. Her first call to American Airlines proved fruitless as the agent told her that there was no way to avoid the $150 cancelation fee. Since the value of the ticket was only $168, this meant that she would basically lose the entire cost of the flight. Her second call to American Airlines provided a glimmer of hope as the agent offered to consult his supervisor. My friend was informed that a supervisor can decide to waive a cancelation fee in the event of a death of a family member, however in this case the supervisor would not waive the fee. This sent my friend into hysterics as dealing with insensitive airline agents was not what she was emotionally equipped for at this particular time. Fortunately, she persevered and decided to make a third and final attempt to seek some mercy from the airline. On her third call, the supervisor agreed to waive the $150 cancelation fee provided that a copy of the death certificate was mailed to American Airlines with an explanation of the cancelation.
It seems that some airlines do still offer bereavement fares and some compassion when it comes to last minute travel plans due to the death of a family member. However, these special considerations are only available over the phone and only if you are persistent. The Delta Airlines website provides information regarding their bereavement fares which can apply to immediate family members as well as in laws:
Neither Delta nor American specifies the amount of the bereavement discounts and both require calling the airline directly. Continental Airlines offers only 5% off round trip fares up to $500, 10% off fares up to $1000 and 20% off fares beyond that. Neither Southwest nor US Airways offer bereavement fares of any kind, but in many cases the lowest internet fare may be considerably less than the bereavement fares offered by other airlines. If you are faced with the unfortunate circumstance of traveling to a funeral, it is best to call around to several airlines for the lowest fare and compare those to the best fares available on the internet.