A bereavement fare is a promotional fare offered by many airlines to help offset the cost of emergency travel due to a death in the family. It is also sometimes referred to as a “compassionate fare,” and depending on the airline, it may also be offered to people who are traveling to see a terminally ill family member as well. Typically, some verifying information is required, but once the situation has been confirmed, the airline will offer a discount on a regular ticket, and an open ended return ticket to allow the consumer to take care of any arrangements which need to be made.
The price of a bereavement fare is not always cheaper than sale tickets or last minute bookings. Using a travel agent or an online fare finding site may yield a cheaper ticket price, for consumers who have the time to do this. However, the bereavement fare can be booked at the last minute, and includes flexible traveling plans, which many sale or discount tickets do not.
To qualify for a bereavement fare, the family member must usually be within your immediate family. This includes uncles, aunts, parents, children, siblings, step- or half-siblings, grandparents, spouses, adoptees and close in-laws, nieces, nephews, and guardians. For more distant relatives, some airlines will offer a bereavement fare, while others will not. Generally, a bereavement fare will not be extended in the instance of a long term partner if the couple is unmarried.
In the case of terminal illness, the airline typically requires the name of the relative along with your relationship, contact information for the hospital or care facility where he or she is residing, and the name of the patient's doctor. If the patient is outside the nation that the consumer is flying from, the airline will usually require that he or she return with documentation so that the airline can offer a rebate, but will not extend a bereavement fare up front. Verifying the situation internationally can be difficult, and airlines try to protect themselves from fraud.
If a consumer is seeking a bereavement fare to attend the funeral of a deceased relative, the airline requests the name of the decedent, the location and time of the services, your relationship, information about the funeral home, and in some cases a copy of the death certificate. In the case of international travel, the airline will offer a refund when the traveler returns with verifying information. Generally, if you are shipping a body via aircraft, the airline will offer a bereavement fare to the person accompanying the body, if he or she is a close relative, along with a discounted freight fare for the deceased.