Bereavement Airfare and Hotels
When you’re called out of town for the unexpected death of a loved one, it’s often necessary to put your life on hold while you attend to all the details of attending a funeral. And this type of thing doesn’t always come cheap. From taking time off work to all the travel plans, funerals can put quite a strain on those who wish to pay their respects and bid the deceased a fond farewell.
Getting Flight Discounts for Funeral Purposes
Almost all funerals occur within one week following the death of a loved one. If you live in another state, this means you have just a few days in which to put your affairs in order and book your travel arrangements.
Last-minute travel has a way of either being very expensive or very cheap. On the one hand, airlines know that customers are willing to pay more when they need to get somewhere and they need to get somewhere fast. On the other, they may have empty flights they’re willing to fill up at a discount.
Since there is no way for you to tell which type of flight you’re going to get, it’s important to contact airlines directly to let them know of your situation and to ask if they have specialty bereavement airfare.
What are Bereavement Fares?
In the past, airlines offered discounted rates to those who were flying to a funeral or to the deathbed of a loved one. As airline costs have risen, many of these programs have disappeared or become more difficult to take advantage of.
Your best option is to call all major airlines that fly into the area you’re traveling to. When you talk with an actual representative, you might be able to tap into bereavement programs or get the lowest possible rate—though be prepared for this to be comparable to package deals you can find online.
If you do find an airline willing to work with you to reduce costs, you may be required to provide proof of death. This might mean a death certificate or contact information for the hospital or funeral home. There could also be restrictions regarding what kind of situations allow you to apply for the discount—it’s usually reserved for the deaths of an immediate family member rather than a family friend or distant cousin.
Additional Bereavement Flight Considerations
Restrictions do apply when qualifying for reduced airline for a funeral. In most cases, you’ll have to travel within the week and stay for no longer than 30 days overall. Resort destinations (like Hawaii) might also be especially difficult to reach on reduced fare flights, since the chances of abuse are much higher.
If you were unable to research reduced airfare ahead of time, you might also look into refunds. Although rare, some airlines will refund a portion of your ticket price for funeral-related purposes.
While you are in pursuit of reduced airfare, you might also look into cheaper hotels. Hotels tend to be a little more flexible in terms of funeral discounts, especially if you are in charge of funeral planning and want to reserve a block of rooms for several incoming relatives.
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iMortuary.com Blog Editors sincerely thank James Flanagan, Program Manager for the Presidential Memorial Certificate Program in the National Cemetery Administration, for his additions and early corrections to this article. His full comments are inc... more »
By Amy Johnson