There are few worse things to have to deal with than a death in the family. The only thing that’s possibly even more terrible and upsetting is if you’re across the country or even abroad when it happens and you don’t have the financial ability to get a plane ticket back home in time for the memorial services. You don’t have to be stranded far from home and your family, though – there are many different airlines that offer discounted last minute tickets to passengers who have suffered a death in their family. These discounted tickets are known as bereavement airfares, and they can be the saving grace of many a far-flung mourner.
Not All Airlines Are Terrible
Most airlines have a rather shoddy reputation today, thanks to heightened ticket prices, lowered levels of service, and their proclivity to shoehorn as many paying passengers in as possible in order to keep their companies profitable. You would think that the idea of providing bereavement airfare rates to grieving family members might be out of character for these companies, but it’s one of the few traditions that the airline industry has held over from the golden age of passenger flight. All you need to do is to provide proof of kinship with the deceased and a large number of major airlines will offer you their discounted bereavement rate.
Tips on Bereavement Airfares
If you get the call to come home and you decide to see if you can swing a bereavement airfare, there are some things you’ll need to know. First of all, not every airline carrier will offer you bereavement rates on a last-minute flight. Airliners like Alaska Airlines, Air Tran, America West, JetBlue and Southwest make it a policy to not offer such rates. In comparison, most of the older airline companies operating in the United States like Delta, Continental, American Airlines, and even Northwest all have bereavement airfare policies in place.
Additionally, if you have a trusted family member or friend that can book the flight for you, it’s a good idea to let them do so. You’ve obviously got other things on your mind, and you’ll need to summon up enough emotional fortitude to actually pack your bags and get ready to leave. In such a situation, the last thing you’ll want to do is to actually speak to an airline representative to secure your ticket. Meanwhile, the exact list of which family members are eligible for bereavement airfares may change from one provider to the other, but for the most part the following relatives of the deceased will typically qualify for the discount:
- Spouses or domestic partners
- Children and stepchildren
- Parents and step-parents
- Siblings, including stepbrothers and stepsisters
- Aunts or uncles
- Nieces or nephews
- In-laws, such as mothers-in-law or fathers-in-law (this extends to sons, daughters, and brothers or sisters-in-law as well)
Make sure you check with your carrier beforehand so there are no surprises when it comes to the price of your ticket. You have enough to worry about if you’re rushing home for a memorial service, but at least an airline that is willing to offer you bereavement airfare for your trip can offer you some modicum of solace.