Although bereavement fares seem to be going the way of the dodo, there are still some airlines that offer them for grieving passengers. In time of emergency or emotional turmoil, it can hard to focus on saving costs or look for deals. And while bereavement fares may sound like the go-to option, these fares don’t always translate to savings. Below, I highlight North American airlines that offer these fares and follow up with few cautions and alternate options.
Airlines that offer Bereavement fares
Despite having varied policies on bereavement fares, some common elements that feature across all airlines;
- Bereavement fares cannot be booked online, tickets must be booked by calling in
- Only available for immediate family members (as defined by airlines)
- Fares are not eligible on partner airlines
- Air Canada
Air Canada offers bereavement fares for immediate family members, on travel that occurs within 10 days of booking and that does not exceed 60 days. The fare is available only for economy class (expect Basic fares) on flights operated by Air Canada, Air Canada Rouge or Air Canada Express. Passengers must also provide the name of the family member, relationship of dying or deceased to the customer and;
name of the hospital or residence, as well as the attending physician’s name, address and phone number OR
name, address and phone number of the memorial or funeral home, along with the date of the memorial or funeral.
Tickets must be booked by calling 1-888-247-2262
Westjet’s bereavement fares are available on Econo, EconoFlex and Premium fares and requires that travel be completed within 14 days of when the flight is booked, including outbound and return flights. The fares do not include travel on partner airlines and offer maximum flexibility with no fees.
Tickets must be booked by calling 1-888-937-8538
- Alaska Airlines
Perhaps the most generous of the airlines listed here, Alaska offers a 10% discount off the lowest priced Alaska Airlines fare available within 7 days of travel. The fare and discount is only available to members of Mileage Plan program (free to sign up). Travel must begin within seven days of purchasing your ticket and is valid on Alaska Airlines flights and Horizon, SkyWest, and PenAir flights operated as Alaska Airlines flights.
Tickets must be booked by calling 1-800-252-7522
- Delta Airlines
Delta’s bereavement fare program is valid only for SkyMiles Members and tickets are subject to availability. There are no published discounts but the tickets offer flexibility and service fee is waived.
Tickets must be booked by calling 1-800-221-1212
Bereavement Fares – Cautions and alternate options
As noted by Delta and Air Canada, bereavement fares are not always the cheapest options, lower promotional fares may be available online. Always check for the lowest fares available online before committing to bereavement fares with an airline. This is where airline award tickets come handy, to book last-minute flights. Sites like Priceline, Hotwire, Skyscanner offer discounted rates on unsold tickets for last-minute flights, and can offer better value.
Bereavement fares can offer flexibility but that often comes at a steep price. These fares can also be restricted to select itineraries and come with several restrictions on travel dates and availability. Providing documentation to support the need for a bereavement fare only adds to the stress for a bereaved passenger. It is important to know that most airlines (included ones mentioned above) will waive change fees and other service charges, in cases of emergency. Airline staff, within their discretion, can also extend a ‘gesture of goodwill’ if the passenger can communicate extenuating circumstances of their travel.
Have you ever booked a bereavement fare before? If I missed an airline that offers such a fare, drop a comment and I will update the post – thanks in advance 🙂
Title Image Source: Tim Gouw on Unsplash