The Lesser-Known Trick To Get The Cheapest Flight While Traveling For A Funeral

Most of the travel hacks bandied about these days can sometimes feel like a broken record. At this point, we've already drilled into our brains that the aisle seat is the best seat for getting work done, that it's better to resort to social media if you want to get a canceled flight re-booked as fast as possible, and that if you want to make sure to get overhead bin space, priority boarding is key. But there are also some valuable tips that remain less familiar. For instance, if you have an emergency and need to attend a funeral, there are airlines that offer flights at a considerably cheaper price than regular ones. These are called bereavement fares.


Although there are some airlines that offer low last-minute prices, availability and actual cost savings can be hit or miss. "We have never portrayed or tried to say we are the least expensive fare out there," American Airlines' Tim Smith said of these special fares in an interview with Bankrate, although it should be noted that the airline stopped offering them in 2014. "But it tends to be kind of in the middle between a full walk-up fare and an advance purchase, leisure type."

Losing a loved one is hard enough, and the last thing on your mind is to scour for some flights that are on the lower end of the pricing spectrum. Fortunately, certain airlines still discount last-minute tickets to those who have experienced a loss within their immediate family.


Only a handful of airlines still offer bereavement flights

There once was a time when many airlines offered bereavement fares as a small solace for travelers struck by sudden loss or emergencies, but a lot of them have since dropped this compassionate initiative. Aside from American Airlines, United Airlines, which used to offer 5 percent discounts to grieving customers, also discontinued giving bereavement fares in 2014. "Last-minute fares have generally decreased, making bereavement discounts less valuable for travelers," they noted in a statement at the time. "We are eliminating bereavement discounts while maintaining the flexibility we offer ticketed customers who encounter medical situations."


Granted, 5 percent is a minuscule amount, but when you're grieving, every bit of savings helps. As of this writing, there are only less than a dozen airlines offering bereavement fares, four of which are in North America. Alaska Airlines, Air Canada, Delta Air Lines, and WestJet, another Canada-based carrier, are known to have still held onto their bereavement fare policies. Across the pond, Lufthansa stands alone in Europe with a similar offer, and way out in the Pacific, Hawaiian Airlines continues to provide a specific bereavement program.

It should be noted, however, that booking bereavement flights is not as straightforward as booking online as you would with a regular flight. More often than not, it requires picking up the phone and showing some type of documentation to prove your situation.


You can't book a bereavement flight online

The airlines that do have bereavement fare policies have different rules when it comes to claiming them, so it's in your best interest to check them carefully before you try to book. For instance, Alaska Airlines offers a 10 percent discount, but you'll need to join its Mileage Plan (luckily, it's free), call the hotline, and provide proof of relation to your immediate family member. Air Canada has a similar policy, except that bereavement fares only apply to flights outside of North America. The carrier requires passengers to book via phone and provide details of the deceased or critically ill relative to qualify. Delta Airlines, meanwhile, restricts its bereavement discounts to international flights, while WestJet's policy appears to cover domestic flights and even allows passengers to apply for a fare reduction after the fact by submitting a form.


Lufthansa also offers bereavement fares but does not publicly detail the specific requirements online. What is clear, however, is that these fares are available only when flying out of the USA or Canada. As for Hawaiian Airlines, it is quite flexible, allowing passengers to book initially at regular prices and then apply for a bereavement discount retroactively, provided the necessary documentation is submitted.

So, if you find yourself needing these fares, exercise patience. Claiming bereavement fares isn't easy, but it's comforting to know that at least some airlines still offer compassion — even if it's hidden behind a bunch of conditions.