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What is a Bereavement Airfare?

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Mid adult business man sitting at airport, using laptop, airplane behind window
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In times of emergency when you have to fly for a family funeral, or to see a terminally ill relative, shopping around for airfares is probably the last thing you want to think about. Many airlines have an answer for this - the bereavement airfare, or compassionate airfare, which is offered to family members traveling for a death in the family, or imminent death.

So what should one know about bereavement fares?

  • They are not always the lowest fare, but they are last minute fares that can be booked right up until departure time.
  • Bereavement fares are offered for family members traveling to a funeral.
  • They can also be offered for family members in the case of imminent death, where a family member is gravely ill.
  • Bereavement fares usually entail a discount off of a full fare (unrestricted fare), and are often more expensive than the cost you would pay for a seat sale ticket.
  • Bereavement fares tend to be very flexible, permitting free changes and stays of up to 30 days with no minimum stay requirements.
  • You can usually secure the discount prior to travel if you provide the required information. A few airlines will only refund the value of the discount after travel is completed. However, all airlines that offer bereavement fares will allow you to apply for a refund after travel is completed (usually you must apply for a refund within 90 days after completion of all flights, along with the required documentation).
  • Discounts range from 10 to 75 percent off of full fare prices. The discount most often offered is 50 percent off of full fare.
  • Discounts usually apply for one airline only. In effect, if you need more than one airline to get to where you need to go, you will need to buy separate tickets and ask about each airline's policy.
  • Bereavement fares may not be available to all destinations offered by an airline. There are less bereavement fares offered for traveling internationally.
  • Where bereavement fares are offered for international travel, the value of the discount may only be given upon return with death certificate because information is harder to verify. Bereavement fares for imminent death in the case of international travel are less common because of the difficulty for the airline to verify information.
  • Bereavement fares are offered over the phone or in person at the airline's ticket counters. The information that you are required to provide in order to secure a bereavement fare is outlined in the next two pages.
A bereavement fare is not always the lowest fare available, if you are able to have flexibility in terms of your travel times and dates then ask first if a seat sale fare is available and applies to you travel plans. In larger travel markets it can be useful to have a travel agent who can call around and find the best options for fare and flights.

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