Bereavement Fares???

Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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Bereavement Fares???

I had a death in my family and had to fly immediately from Portland, ME to Pittsburgh. I called US Air, which had seats for the flight and was told I could get a bereavement fare for less than half of the quoted airfare; however, there were no "bereavement" seats on the flight. What gives?
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:08 AM
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Welcome to the wacky world of airline fares. I don't want to sound crass, but I guess they think you should plan ahead for such things. That is really the limit.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:22 AM
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Polcies vary among carriers, but I always understood that bereavement fares were intended to be available anytme there was a seat open on a flight, regardless of what fare class had been designated for it. The actual discount offered for bereavement fares is not always the best available fare, usually a set discount off full fare. In your case, I would have hung up and called back to get another agent or asked for a supervisor.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Seamus,

That was my understanding as well. Your right, I should have spoken to someone else but it was late at night and I was a bit foggy. I ended up booking with a discount airline, which was cheaper (although less convenient) than the bereavement fare. That said, it really bugged me.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 09:57 AM
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When you get back, send a raspberry/onion letter to USAir -- it probably will fall on deaf ears/blind eyes (whatever the right image) because they are up against it already BUT perhaps it won't. A dumb response if they lose yet another passenger to a discount airline.

Sorry for your loss.
 
Old Aug 29th, 2004, 10:13 AM
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I recently had a lose and just bought a ticket full price. I couldn't really get into travelocity or any other discount fares. How does the airline really know you have had a death in the family? How do they define "family"? In-laws, siblings, spouse, aunt? Do you have to show something like a death notice or newspaper obit? Usually written paper validation doesn't come out until after the funeral. Just curiouos since I have some elderly extended family members who are ill or failing. , Minette
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 10:20 AM
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Last minute fares can be so expensive, I always save my frequent flier miles in case of these emergencies. If you live in a city that Southwest or another discount carrier serves, you can usually find something lower than what the major airlines are calling their "bereavement fares". Yes, they usually ask for something official in writing from the funeral home...which you can present on the return trip at check-in time.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 11:43 AM
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Confirmation for a bereavement fare can be as simple as providing the name of the funeral home, and your relationship to the deceased. The airlines puts you on hold, and they make a call to confirm it.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers are with you.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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"I always save my FF miles for these emergencies". Huh? I always thought the big complaint was you had to book award travel so far ahead. Are you saying you can usually get FF awards the day before you travel?

By the way, American told me that "mother-in-law" counts for one. When I asked about a life partner's mother, there was a big conference at the other end of the line. Then she came back on and said yes, that counts.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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American offered me the "bereavement" fare (half price of a last minute ticket) BEFORE my Dad passed away. I live in Texas, he lived in Kentucky and he was literally on his death bed. They wanted the hospital name, room number, doctor's name, etc to verify the situation.

I was just in too big a hurry to get there and not in the frame of mind to do any searching for a lower fare. I was proud not to have to pay $1000.

FYI, in case anyone out there needs to get to a loved one in similar circumstances.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 01:14 PM
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I was on a trip when I got a call that a relative died. United charged us an additional $100 per ticket to get home.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 01:23 PM
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Right now, it's 5:18pm ET Sunday, but it's still possible to get a $453 r/t fare to PIT tonight on USAir/UA via Washington, DC; and Delta return; which is not bad.

Many airlines release more FF seats close to the travel date, if there are seats available. Also, even if not, most airlines let you cash in double miles to get that seat. It could still be a good deal to spend 50K miles, if the last minute fare is close to $1,000.

Another possibility (though not useful in this case) is Southwest or other low-cost airlines. Their last-minute rates are often much lower than the majors.
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 01:54 PM
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Well, if you are able to leave on a Wed, Thu, Fri or Sat try site59.com
My friend had a sudden emergency and booked a trip for the nexy day. It included a hotel and was less than 1/2 of the fare charged by the airline for the same flights!
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Old Aug 29th, 2004, 06:14 PM
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Probobly the inventory was not available for the flights you were looking at. I cannot vouch for US Air, but when I worked at American some years ago we had bereavement fares which had to be booked in a certain inventory class m for example. If class m was not available for that flight then other flights had to be consider. Also the airport has the ultimate authority to override a situation such as yours. I hope that makes sense....
Im sorry that you have to fly under those circumstances...
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Old Sep 1st, 2004, 05:47 PM
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Another possibility is priceline. You can't specify time of flight, but it recently got me NY-London for $250 roundtrip in June.

Still sending sincere sympathy.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 10:07 AM
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When my MIL died, I was told by United that no bereavement fare was available on the flight I needed. My husband had already planned a trip to see his mom and was scheduled to fly out on the day she died. I needed to get on the same flight with him, which was due to depart just hours after we learned she had passed. I got a full price ticket and it cost me more than $1000 (the only seat available was in first class). I wrote to United later and expressed my disappointment that they couldn't do any better than that. Within a couple of weeks they had credited my Visa card $450. It was still not a cheap flight, but I was pleasantly surprised that they did anything at all!
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Patrick, the closer the date gets to a flight that isn't full, the airlines start releasing more FF seats.

They are easiest to book a very long way out or at the last minute.
 
Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 11:18 AM
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Exactly. These situations are the best times to use FF miles. Price is high, seats are available.

Used some myself for a funeral last spring. Saved $500.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 07:28 PM
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I've used bereavement fares for close relatives a couple times on United. It was really easy as they only asked for the name of the deceased, funeral home and a phone number. I don't know if they checked it or not -- I know they didn't check it while I was there at the counter getting a ticket. They were really nice and I appreciated it because one good thing about them is that they don't have restrictions as they are like a regular non-discount ticket (which I've never bought normally) -- so you can change the return date if necessary, as you need to.

Airlines make up their own rules regarding what kind of relatives qualify for these fares, they should tell you if you ask. I never heard of the limited thing, that must be a USAir thing (if it was true). They usually do okay on these fares as they are half normal rate, so I don't know why they would do that, especially close to departure.

I've also used FF miles at the last minute for one and they were great for that. I think that is because the place I was going was not some high-demand vacation spot, that's why. I think perhaps a lot of people who need these fares wouldn't be going to a high-demand spot. If you need to go to a small town or non-hub area, that makes FF miles even better to use as you can't usually get cheap airfares to those kind of places.
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Old Sep 2nd, 2004, 08:40 PM
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This topic has been discussed many times before, but please keep in mind that airlines have no more theoretical obligation to help a bereaved person save money than a car rental agency or hotel or taxi cab driver. Nice of them if they choose to do so, but not required. Bereavement fares are often 50% off the max unrestricted fare. That's often higher than the non-bereavement restricted fare.
We've used FF miles in the past for such occasions and it's saved us a lot of $$$.
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