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airline bereavement fares?

Old Jul 21st, 2003, 08:54 AM
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airline bereavement fares?

We have an imminent family death and out-of-town children. Do airlines have discount fares under such circumstances? How to get?
Thanks
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:04 AM
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I had to ask for a bereavement fare from Northwest about 3 years ago. It was half of full coach fare - so still not as cheap as booking a restricted ticket in advance, but it helped.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:07 AM
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I have found that bereavement fares aren't nessisarily cheaper but they have fewer restrictions so that you can leave them open ended.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:18 AM
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The most annoying thing about bereavement fares is having to call the airlines individually to ask for them. I would try to get a travel agent to do it for you, if I were you. Also, be aware that the bereavement fare isn't always the cheapest available fare; when I was calling around, the airlines' phone agents informed me of a lower fare more than once. And lastly, to answer your basic question: to get a bereavement fare, call the airline and simply ask for it. They will tell you what documentation--usually a death cert., after your return--they need. Best of luck to you under these difficult circumstances.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:19 AM
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Hi Jwallace,

Yes, the have bereavement fares. As others noted, they may not be cheaper than what you can find on the internet, but they are usually not restricted - so it's easier to change times if you need to.

Also, note that the fare is only good for immediate family members (parents and children). I learned a few years ago that bereavement fare does not apply for the death of a grandparent.

You'll have to call the airline/s that serve your area to find out what fare you can get.

Sorry for your imminent loss - my thoughts are with you and your family.

Karen
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:23 AM
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My son flew bereavement fare home when his grandfather died two years ago. It was somewhat reduced but he did have to provide information about the deceased including name, date of funeral and name of the funeral home. His TA told him they DO check. He called a TA he knew and she knew by his voice that something was seriously wrong. Bless her, she informed him of the option and did her best to get him mone a.s.a.p.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Strictly speaking for airlines, they consider a "bereavement fare" to be associated with a death,not an "imminent" death.So when you are speaking with airlines I suggest you ask about a "medical emergency/imminent death" fare not bereavement.And not all airlines will offer this type of fare.It is unfortunate,but true.Best of luck.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:24 AM
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Actually, I take that back about the grandparents and the airlines' policy. Thinking about it, it may have been my company that wouldn't reimburse me for the bereavement fare to my grandmother's city since it cost more than going home would have cost - they would only pay the lowest (I was traveling for work at the time).

But, it was also right around 9/11/01, and just finding a flight was extremely hard, so the fares I was quoted might have been very unusual too.

Sorry if I provided mis-information.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:29 AM
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I have been in this type of situation a couple times and have flown Southwest. It was much cheaper than a last second fare and worth the extra driving distance. If this is an option, try that.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:32 AM
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Used a travel agent last year for an unexpected death in the family. The TA got me a reduced fare and called the funeral home and had them fax a copy of the death certificate to Northwest airline to allow me to recc. the reduced fare. All this in a few hours time.
Don't normally use TA but it paid off this time for the hassle factor alone.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:34 AM
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If Southwest, AirTran, jetBlue, etc. fly to the destination city, check with them! The full fares on these carriers is usually $299 or less (one way) and that's often less than a bereavement fare.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 09:35 AM
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I've tried a bereavement on Southwest and they said they didn't offer it...

With that said, I've found that the Southwest last minute prices are often cheaper than other airlines bereavement fares. (If you happen to be in a SW city, might check with them as well)

I don't think I've heard of "family emergency" or "imminent death" rates. With bereavement, you have to provide a funeral home phone number and name of deceased. How could they check if it were an "emergency"?

If it's not a family death, you may be best off with Southwest.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 10:25 AM
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First of all, condolences on your loss.

Unfortunately, my 10 year old son and I flew using a bereavement fare on Continental this March, when my mother-in-law died. Based on questions they asked me, I got the idea that the fare would work in case of serious illness as well. We ended up paying $750 apiece to get from Durango CO to Brownsville TX, two to three times what we would have paid on an advance purchase fare. There were loads of empty seats on both legs, each way.

I didn't have the presence of mind to try cheaptickets.com or lastminutefares.com. I think I did check out Orbitz and Expedia, but couldn't beat Continental's fare.

It was very hard to get through the phone call to make the reservation, due to questions the agent was asking. It might be better to have someone like a neighbor or friend help out with the reservation. If you do it yourself, be prepared to give details of whether the person is hospitalized or has died, when the death happenned, how you are related to the deceased, etc. I was doing okay until I had to answer all these questions. I think just asking for the bereavement fare puts you in an emotionally vulnerable position.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 11:10 AM
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The entire matter is very variable -- from airline to airline, event to event, even day-to-day.

Sometimes they'll quote you a fare that equals whatever the lowest discounted fare might have been if you booked, say, 21 days in advance. Sometimes it'll be 1/2 of the non-discounted coach fare. Sometimes it's mysterious, and I'm convinced a lot has to do with how full the flights are running between your home and your destination.

It's also variable from airline to airline how close your relationship has to be and how severe the tragedy. I've successfully gotten a very good bereavement fare on American for an aunt and a cousin's husband - funerals in both cases.

And yes, they do check, so have the full name of the person involved and -- if a funeral, the phone number and name and address of the funeral home. If sick, I'm not sure what official documentation they need, but I'm sure they'll tell you right away. In both cases noted above, American kept me on hold while they called the funeral home right THEN, and only ticketed me after the funeral home verified the death.

Bottom line: explain to the agent right away that you have a family emergency and need help with booking and whatever they can do to help you with a bereavement OR OTHER discount fare. Some agents will volunteer the information that you'll do better with an excursion rate than a bereavement rate -- HOWEVER: as others have pointed out, the advantage of the bereavement fare may be the ability to change your return flight without penalty.

Sorry for your difficulties.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 11:13 AM
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PS: My experience with AA and United has been that agents can be incredibly helpful and compassionate under these circumstances. Try to remember to get the agent's name if he/she is especially helpful and send a letter later to customer service praising them by name. It'll help the agent and it'll send the message that special help is appreciated.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 12:19 PM
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I had to book a flight for my grandmother's funeral last year. Went with United, and though the fare was a little less, it wasn't all that much cheaper. I did have to provide the full name of deceases, funeral home, director, date of death. They booked right then. I don't know if they called later or not. And no death certificate was required.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 12:25 PM
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I would bid it out on Priceline for the best fare.
 
Old Jul 21st, 2003, 12:46 PM
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Problem with Priceline is that if you aren't accepted, then you can't bid again without changing some of your original parameters. I'd suggest Hotmail, where they give YOU the price. You won't know exact times or airline but you also won't have to bid.
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Old Jul 21st, 2003, 12:58 PM
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As others have already said, bereavement fares are NOT cheap. I would go with Priceline.com
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