There was a time when most airlines offered bereavement flights, a discounted fare for those needing last minute flights to attend the funeral of an immediate family member. Most airlines discontinued bereavement flights around 2004 but a few airlines still offer them for attending a funeral or to visit a loved one who is near death.
Delta, Air Canada, Lufthansa, and West Jet still offer a version of bereavement flights.
The main perk of bereavement flights is greater flexibility than usual in making changes to your itinerary but not price. The bereavement flights are discounted from unrestricted full fare ticket prices so you will likely find better deals on last minute flights on travel sites such as cheapflights.com, Expedia, and Kayak, or by contacting the airline directly.
Options for finding affordable last-minute flights:
Call the airline directly
You are more likely to find a last minute deal on a flight by talking to an agent. Many of the cheapest last minute fares are not published online or last minute deals are available to fill seats. Talking to an agent and explaining your personal situation regarding a family member may be a benefit as well.
Fly to an alternative airport
You may get a better price with a round trip ticket to an airport close to your destination. If you are going to New York, you may fly into Newark instead of JFK, going to Los Angeles, you can fly into John Wayne airport in Orange County instead of LAX.
Package options that include a hotel and a rental car may be less expensive especially if you need both. A package deal may still be the cheapest alternative even if you have a place to stay and do not need a car.
Take a red-eye flight
If a red-eye flight is available to your destination, they are usually less expensive. Red-eyes leave late at night and arrive early the next morning. Taking connecting flights can also reduce your fare.
If a bereavement flight is the best choice, the passenger must be an immediate family member and be able to show documents relating to your loved one’s death. The definition of immediate family reflects the times and usually includes live-in partners, same sex partners, and step family. Check with the airline as their guidelines may vary.
In order to find bereavement flights with the airlines that offer them, you must call them directly as they are not listed online by the airlines or travel sites. Below are the basic parameters for each airline.
Airlines that offer bereavement fares:
Applicable to immediate family members. Discounts offered on select round-trip and one-way flights when booked within seven days of traveling internationally or 10 days of traveling in North America. At the airport, passengers must present a death certificate or physician’s note indicating imminent death. Call 1-888-247-2262 for more information and to book.
Delta Air Lines
Applicable to immediate family. Bereavement fares apply in cases of death or, for international travel, imminent death. Bereavement fares offer added flexibility in case of changes in your itinerary. Fares can only be booked by calling 800-221-1212 (domestic travel) or 800-241-4141 (international travel). Please note, fares under Delta’s bereavement policy are subject to availability.
Bereavement fares are available in case of death for journeys starting in the U.S. or Canada. For information and to book, travelers should call 1-800-645-3880.
WestJet offers bereavement fares to those who have had a death in their immediate family and to guests traveling to funerals for firefighters, police officers, military personnel or emergency services personnel who have died in the line of duty. For information and to book, call 1-888-937-8538