If you face an emergency, wherein your relative is ill, or there is an unfortunate incident of death in your family, searching around for suitable airfare can be quite difficult.
There are several airlines, which offer bereavement fares to solve this problem for you. They are offered to family members of a dead person or relatives of ill persons. There are certain rules which you need to follow, and you also have to qualify to apply for one.
Most of the major airlines offer such fares, which can be availed of at the last minute, for those people who have to travel to be with their immediate family members urgently. Airlines provide discounts for advance bookings done, but in such an emergency, you won't be able to get that.
Immediate family members include spouse, domestic partner, child, parent, sister, brother, stepparent, stepchild, grandparent, grandchild, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, stepbrother, mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and stepsister.
During the time of booking a ticket, you would need to furnish doctor's name (in case that's applicable), name and telephone number of the hospital or the funeral home, and the relationship between the deceased or the ill person and the passenger.
Bereavement fares are discounted fares, but may not always be the lowest one available, and these can be booked till departure time. Even though these are cheap airline tickets, most of the time, they are costly than seat sale ticket. They are quite flexible and permit you to stay for a maximum of 30 days, and there are no minimum requirements.
You can avail of the discount if you provide all the information before traveling, but there are a few airlines, which provide you a refund after you have completed the journey.
Nevertheless, these fares are offered by all airlines, and you need to apply for a refund within 90 days of completing your journey. Depending on the airlines, the discounted amount varies around 10% of the complete fare prices.
If you need more than one airline to reach your destination, then you need to ask for separate tickets, and whether such a policy exists for that destination and airlines. If you want to travel internationally, the chances of finding such fares are less, as the airlines face difficulty in verifying the information provided.
Airlines Offering This Facility
There are several airlines which offer bereavement fares, but some of the big names in the business do not provide them.
While, Air Canada, offers only one-way trip in North America, it offers both round-trip and one-way trip (select destinations) for international travels. It requires the start of the bereavement travel within 7 days of booking for international travel and within 10 days if the travel is within North America.
In case of international travel, the stay must not exceed 30 days. Also, this facility is not offered in business class. The bereavement policy of Air Canada also applies to Air Canada Rogue and Air Canada Express.
It provides this facility for international travel as well, but you need to travel within 7 days from the time of death of the immediate family member. You need to furnish the aforementioned documents while booking your tickets. Refunds may be provided on unrestricted tickets.
It offers this facility for customers traveling due to death of an immediate family member. One can avail of this ticket within 7 days of the event.
Apart from these, Lufthansa and WestJet offer bereavement fares. WestJet's bereavement policy extends to civic funerals and offers discounted fares to attend funerals of firefighters, police officers, military personnel and emergency services personnel who die in the line of duty.
These are the airline companies which offer this facility under their respective programs, but there may be some more. So, to find out the best deal, you need to go to their official websites and see for yourself whether they provide it or not. You can also opt to get the best deals searched through a travel agent.