If There’s a Death in Your Family, These Airlines Offer Discounted Fares

Discounted or flexible bereavement fares lessen the financial burden if you need to travel urgently due to the death of a close family member.

Woman stands alone in silhouette with a suitcase inside an airport terminal

If you live far away from loved ones, you may need to book a last-minute plane ticket to attend a funeral in the future.

Photo by Shutterstock

There are a great many things that need to be done after the loss of a loved one, and if you live far away, purchasing a flight is often one of them.

Because funerals typically happen shortly after someone passes away, the airline fares for getting there at the last minute tend to be high. While not a common practice, some airlines do offer bereavement fares, a type of discounted or flexible airline tickets provided to those who need to travel urgently due to the death (or imminent death) of a close family member. The fares are designed to ease the financial burden on passengers during a difficult time, offering some relief in terms of cost and flexibility in booking and travel changes.

Policies for bereavement fares vary from airline to airline, though typically, passengers need to provide proof of the bereavement situation, such as a death certificate, a statement from a hospital, or contact information for the funeral home.

Read on for which airlines in North America currently offer bereavement fares and what the requirements for qualifying are.

Alaska Airlines

For those mourning the loss of a loved one, Alaska Airlines offers 10 percent off the lowest available fare for your desired trip to all of its destinations, provided travel falls within seven days of the death. The flights are also available for flights operated on behalf of Alaska by Horizon or SkyWest.

The reduced fare is available to customers who have lost a spouse or domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. It also includes stepfamily members and in-laws that fall into those categories.

Unfortunately, the discount cannot be combined with other discounts, including miles or the once-a-year buy one ticket, get the companion ticket for just taxes and fees deal given to all Alaska Air–branded credit card holders. Travelers over the age of 18 must be Alaska Mileage Plan members and have their plan numbers added to their reservation. (Those age 17 and younger do not need to be Mileage Plan members to qualify for these fares.)

To book, call Alaska’s reservations line at 1-800-252-7522. The lower rate can only be applied to new tickets, so don’t try to book through the website first.

Air Canada

Air Canada also offers discounted bereavement fares (which vary case by case) for economy-class tickets worldwide. While travel must begin within 10 days of booking, the return can be anytime within 60 days, which could prove helpful if you’re handling the deceased’s estate.

To qualify, the departed needs to be a current or former spouse, child, parent, grandparent, great-grandparent, sibling, or legal guardian. This also includes step, half, and in-law versions of these relationships. You’ll also need to prove the loved one passed, through a copy of the death certificate, the funeral director’s or coroner’s statement, or a letter from the treating physician on official letterhead. That documentation needs to be emailed to bereavement@aircanada.ca within seven days of the return flight, otherwise, you may be charged the full fare.

To book, you’ll need to call the customer service line for Air Canada at 1-888-247-2262.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines offers bereavement tickets on domestic and international flights when the deceased is an immediate family member. (Under Delta’s policy, that includes a spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sibling or stepsibling, stepparent, stepchild, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law). While the carrier doesn’t offer a discount, it does waive service and change fees on the itineraries, which may be helpful for those who anticipate changes to their travel plans.

To book these fares, passengers need to contact Delta’s reservations directly by phone (the fares aren’t bookable online) at 1-800-221-1212 for domestic or 1-800-241-4141 for international flights. You do need to be a member of SkyMiles (the free loyalty program for Delta) and will need to provide the deceased’s name, your relationship to them, and the phone number for the funeral home, hospital, or hospice.

Bailey Berg is a freelance travel writer and editor, who covers breaking news, trends, tips, transportation, sustainability, the outdoors, and more. She was formerly the associate travel news editor at Afar. Her work can also be found in the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Geographic, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, the Points Guy, Atlas Obscura, Vice, Thrillist, Men’s Journal, Architectural Digest, Forbes, Lonely Planet, and beyond.
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