The Getaway
The Ultimate Guide for Bereavement Flight Tips

Bereavement flights can be a lifeline during the emotional and practical challenges of last-minute travel.

The sudden need to travel during such a difficult time due to the death or serious illness of a loved one can add immense stress, both emotionally and logistically. Dealing with grief while coordinating travel plans and managing expenses can be overwhelming. It’s important to understand bereavement fare policies and tips for managing the process smoothly. It's hard enough getting through TSA on the best of days.

Even if an airline doesn’t have specific bereavement rates, calling them can still be helpful, as many will try to assist in any way they can.

Here is our guide for finding bereavement flights when you need help the most.

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01 Airlines offering bereavement fares

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Airlines in the USA



Delta Air Lines

Delta Air Lines offers bereavement fares for both domestic and international flights within seven days of a family member's death or serious illness. The specific discount percentage isn’t disclosed, but the fare includes flexibility for changing travel dates without service fees (fare differences may apply). Delta flies basically everywhere, so this can be a saving grace for many, especially if traveling in and out of the busiest airports in the US.

Booking Details:Must be a SkyMiles member and book through Delta Reservations (1-800-221-1212 for domestic flights, 1-800-241-4141 for international flights). Travelers must provide the deceased's name, relationship, and funeral home/hospital details. Bereavement fares are subject to availability, and lower promotional fares may be available.  Delta Air Lines is one of the major U.S. carriers, known for its extensive domestic and international route network, offering reliable service and comprehensive customer support.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines provides a 10% discount on the lowest available fare within seven days of travel for immediate family members, including aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. If you're going to a funeral and are hoping to bring anything along to console the family, here are some helpful tips for traveling with gifts.

Booking Details: Must book via the Alaska Airlines reservations line (1-800-252-7522). Requires Mileage Plan membership for travelers over 18. Documentation needed includes proof of relationship and bereavement details. Fares cannot be combined with other discounts. Alaska Airlines is renowned for its customer service and its strong presence on the West Coast and in Alaska, making it a great choice for travelers in these regions seeking compassionate fare options.

Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines is a little more niche in terms of travel, but it's still worth noting. The airline provides Neighbor Island Emergency Travel fares within the Hawaiian Islands with set prices for one-way tickets (e.g., $150 for a one-way ticket between islands). They may also waive any change fees for flights that are altered due to a family member's death. Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and hopefully, you'll still be able to appreciate it even in tough times.

Booking Details: Requires booking within 48 hours of ticketing through the reservations line (1-800-367-5320) and filling out a Bereavement Fare Application. Documentation such as a death certificate may be required. Hawaiian Airlines is the largest carrier in Hawaii, offering extensive inter-island service and flights to the U.S. mainland, Asia, and the South Pacific. Its Neighbor Island fares provide vital support for those traveling within Hawaii during emergencies.

Airlines in Canada



Air Canada

Air Canada offers bereavement fares for deaths or serious illnesses in the family. This applies to flights in all economy fare classes, excluding North America Basic. Discounts typically range from 5% to 25%, and anything helps when booking last minute. It's a Canadian airline, but it doesn't matter which side of Niagara Falls you're on...they travel all over North America. It's worth checking out when you're in need.

Booking Details: Travel must occur within 10 days of booking and up to 60 days. Call Air Canada's reservation line to book (1-888-247-2262). Provide the deceased's name, relationship, hospital/funeral home details, and supporting documentation (e.g., death certificate or physician's letter). Retroactive discounts can be applied within 90 days of booking. As Canada’s largest airline, Air Canada connects travelers to numerous destinations globally, offering a broad range of services and support for those needing to travel on short notice due to bereavement.

WestJet

WestJet, which is headquartered in Calgary, will offer bereavement fares for immediate family members. This includes aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. The offer applies to Econo, EconoFlex, and Premium fares. Discounts are typically around 10% off the regular fare, which is industry standard for the airlines that actually do still offer it.

Booking Details: Must book through the WestJet customer service line (1-888-937-8538). Travel must be completed within 14 days of booking. Provide proof of relationship and bereavement details. Post-travel refunds can be requested within seven days of trip completion. WestJet is known for its friendly service and comprehensive network across North America, making it a reliable option for Canadian travelers needing compassionate fare options.

Airlines in Europe



Lufthansa

Unfortunately, Europe doesn't have very many options when it comes to bereavement fares. Thankfully, Lufthansa offers special fares for immediate family members to attend funerals. The only catch is that the journey must start in the USA or Canada. Specific discounts aren’t detailed, but fares are designed to be lower than standard last-minute tickets.

Booking Details: Passengers must call the respective reservation numbers in the U.S. (1-800-645-3880) or Canada to book these fares over the phone. Specific guidelines aren’t detailed, so it’s advised to inquire directly. As Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa provides extensive global connectivity and premium services, making it a solid choice for those needing to travel to Europe on short notice due to a family emergency.

Head to the next page to find out specific airlines that do NOT offer bereavement fares.

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02 Airlines that do not offer bereavement fares

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American Airlines

Unfortunately, American Airlines put an end to their bereavement fare policy back in 2014. Instead, they focus on providing flexible booking options. American Airlines is a major U.S. carrier with extensive domestic and international routes. While they don’t offer bereavement discounts, their flexible options can still be useful for urgent travel needs.

United Airlines

United Airlines discontinued bereavement fares in 2014. They now provide refunds for change fees in family emergencies instead. United Airlines serves numerous destinations worldwide. While they no longer offer bereavement discounts, their flexible change policies can still offer some relief during emergencies.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines has never offered bereavement fares. They focus on providing low everyday fares and flexible booking options. Southwest Airlines is known for its no-frills, budget-friendly approach, with a generous baggage policy and flexible ticketing, making it a viable option for cost-conscious travelers.

JetBlue

JetBlue does not offer bereavement fares. Instead, they concentrate on low-cost travel and various promotional fares. JetBlue is appreciated for its comfortable seating and free onboard Wi-Fi, making it a good option for affordable and pleasant travel, even without specific bereavement discounts.

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines does not offer bereavement fares. They operate as a low-cost carrier focusing on budget travel. Spirit Airlines offers ultra-low fares with a pay-for-what-you-use model, suitable for travelers looking to minimize costs despite the lack of bereavement fares.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines does not offer bereavement fares. They emphasize low-cost travel and basic economy fares. Frontier Airlines provides very low fares with a no-frills experience, which can be advantageous for those needing to travel on a tight budget.

Allegiant Air

Allegiant Air does not offer bereavement fares. They are known for ultra-low-cost travel options and limited service routes. Allegiant Air focuses on connecting smaller cities with popular vacation spots at very low prices, making it a potential choice for budget travelers despite the absence of bereavement discounts.

Head to the next page for specific tips on booking bereavement fares.

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03 Tips for bereavement flights

Young couple at baggage drop off at airport Hinterhaus Productions/ Getty Images




Documentation needed

Proof of death or serious illness, relationship to the deceased, contact information for the funeral home or hospital, and sometimes additional information like a death certificate or obituary is needed. Gathering all of this information can be emotionally taxing, but having everything ready will make the booking process smoother and less stressful. It might also help to only bring a carry-on if possible because dealing with lost luggage is not worth it in trying times.

Booking process

Most bereavement fares require booking via phone, not online. making sure that all necessary documentation is readily available when speaking to the airline representative is key here. Speaking to someone directly can be more comforting during this difficult time, and they may offer additional help or guidance. You want to try and do everything you can to avoid even the most common mistakes when booking a flight, especially now.

Discounts and flexibility

Bereavement fare discounts will usually range from 5% to 25%. Some airlines offer flexible booking and travel dates, so it's important to ask about all of the available options. Knowing that you have some financial relief and flexibility can ease a bit of the burden during a challenging period, especially last minute.

Head to the next page for money saving tips when booking bereavement fares.

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04 Tips for saving money and managing travel

booking on phone




Frequent Flyer Miles

We really recommend always using frequent flyer miles for last-minute travel to save money. It isn't always therenas a fun reward, but a great bank of points when you need it most. Always check for available award tickets and any associated booking fees. If you don’t have enough miles, see if friends or family can transfer some to you. This can be a cost-effective way to manage travel expenses in an emergency.

There are all types of frequent flyer programs around the world to look into signing up for.

Non-stop flights

Focus on non-stop flights to avoid delays and complications. Sometimes, it's just best to get there and give yourself more time to think about the rest of it. Use tools like airport home pages or Google Flights to find non-stop options in real-time. Non-stop flights reduce travel time and stress, helping you arrive at your destination as quickly as possible to be with the ones you love.

Flexible Travel Rewards Programs

Like signing up for frequent flyers, we also suggest using credit card rewards that can be transferred to multiple airlines for maximum flexibility. Also, always remember to check the transfer times to make sure that points can be used for last-minute bookings. Programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards can be very useful in these situations, allowing you to book flights even when cash fares are high.

Fee waivers

It's always a good idea to politely request waivers for telephone booking fees, last-minute award booking fees, and change or cancellation fees due to family emergencies. Explaining your situation can often lead to compassionate responses from customer service agents, potentially saving you additional costs. You may need to provide documentation as well, so it's safe to always have it ready to show a booking agent.

Being informed about bereavement fares and preparing in advance can make a significant difference during a difficult time. Use these tips and information to help ease the travel process during moments of grief, ensuring you can focus on what truly matters. Remember, reaching out to airlines directly and explaining your situation can often yield additional support and flexibility, providing some relief during a challenging period.

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