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We all face unpleasant situations in our lives, but there is nothing unpleasant than the death of a loved one or close acquaintance. The news makes us feel extremely sad, stressful and filled with emotion. The pain of losing someone dear to heart even becomes heightened when you have to book last minute flights for the funeral. There are some airlines which understand such sad, unfortunate situations and try to help the affected passengers by offering them bereavement fares.
Just imagine what it would be like when you have head about the death of a dear one and have to purchase expensive last minute flight tickets to attend the funeral in emergency. Let’s know about the bereavement airfares, how it is booked and what airlines are currently offering them. Before we get an insight into bereavement fares it’s recommended that you should first talk to the concerned airline reservations department and explain the situation to one of its staff, or you may also directly talk about this to the online travel agent through which you are booking bereavement flights. They will help you provide last minute discounted fares, or even suggest options on how best to avoid the financial burden of a full-priced airfare.
Special bereavement fares are offered by many airlines with a discount off published fares. The bereavement or “compassion” fares are also offered by major U.S. airlines for passengers who want to attend the funeral of a relative or be with a very sick or dying relative. A discount is offered on bereavement fares, which may sometimes range from 5% to 25% off the normal ticket price, depending on the airline. Sometimes a little advance notice is required by many airlines when immediate family members will be escorting a body on a plane and attend funeral.
There are several benefits of bereavement fares too. The travel rules pertaining to bereavement fares are flexible, which you won’t find when booking last minute flights. Also, most bereavement fares are refundable, and allow the passengers to make date changes. The bereavement fares also have open returns in which the passenger doesn’t have to specify the return date at the time of booking.
The bereavement fares policy may vary from airline to airline. As such, bereavement fares will be granted by airlines only due to death or grave sickness of an immediate family member, and not distant relatives or friends. Before providing bereavement fares most airlines will ascertain whether your claim is legitimate or not by asking for proof such as the deceased or ill family member’s name and the contact information for the funeral home or attending physician. You may also have to provide a copy of death certificate whenever asked for.
In such cases the airline makes every effort to help the passengers. If the passenger is travelling with little advance notice and not able to get a seat on the plane then the airline will also help you in finding a seat or give priority on a stand-by list.
Airlines usually offer bereavement fares only to the immediate family members after getting the required information verifying their situation. The “immediate family” defined by most airlines, include spouse/domestic partner/fiancé, child/step-child/child-in-law/foster child, parent/step-parent/parent-in-law/foster parent/legal guardian, grandparent, grandchild, sibling/step- or half-sibling/sibling-in-law/foster sibling, aunt/uncle, and nephew/niece.
If you want to be eligible for bereavement fares then the airline will ask you to provide information for eligibility verification, such as the name of the deceased person, the relationship of the passenger to the deceased person, the details about the funeral home (name, phone number and address), the name of the funeral director, and/or the name and phone number of the attending physician (in case of a gravely sick dying person).
The date of the funeral service and a copy of the death certificate will also be required by some airlines, while some airlines will ask you to submit this information after the funeral has been held. It is recommended that you should save all the boarding passes, receipts and other travel documents just in case you will submit this information after the flight for the refund of the discount amount.
Most airlines require that bereavement fare tickets are booked over the phone with an airline representative or through a third-party online travel agent. Before talking to a ticketing agent for the purchase of a bereavement fare ticket you should first of all make sure that you qualify for it and then clearly tell that you want to book a bereavement flight for attending the funeral. Some airlines will provide you discount at the time of booking itself, while some airlines will give you a refund for the value of the discount after the flight.
Some major U.S. airlines offer bereavement fares to the passengers. Let’s see the bereavement fares offerings of these airlines.
Delta Airlines: The bereavement policy of Delta Airlines covers death and imminent death. The airline though doesn’t necessarily offer discounted ticket prices. The bereavement fare tickets purchased with Delta Airlines are refundable and allow date change without paying any fees. The passenger has the flexibility to adjust return date. The travel must start within seven days of imminent death. You will however be required to hold Delta Airlines SkyMiles membership for utilizing bereavement fares. If you aren’t a SkyMiles member then you can sign up online on that day for qualifying.
Alaska Airlines: A flat 10% discount is offered by Alaska Airlines on its lowest fare available within 7 days. However, you need to be a member of Alaska Airlines’ free Mileage Plan rewards program for purchasing bereavement fares. Those who are not members can also join the program on the same day. The bereavement fares offered by the airline will only cover travel if someone close to you has passed away, and doesn’t cover family emergency or medical emergency travel. The change and cancellation fee will however be applicable to bereavement fares.
JetBlue Airways: The “fly under the radar” bereavement fares is offered by JetBlue Airways. Under its bereavement fares policy, JetBlue Airways offers a 15% discount on the published fare and includes one free checked bag. The bereavement fare can be booked only over the phone and is available for immediate family members such as father, mother, brother, sister and child, and not uncles and aunts.
Other U.S. carriers such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines don’t offer bereavement fares to the passengers.
A death in the family is surely isn’t easy to hear or be accepted. The anxiety and stress is overwhelming. However, bereavement fares are helpful and affordable when purchasing last minute tickets for a funeral. The pain of the loss of the loved one is though unbearable and can’t be lessened for a long time to come.
If you are in such an unfortunate situation and need to travel in emergency for attending a funeral then you can try getting bereavement fares with some of these above stated airlines. You just need to call the airline directly or seek bereavement fares discount when purchasing through an online travel agency.
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