The unexpected death of a loved one can be a real shock. While you reel under the stress of that irreparable loss, getting a last-minute air ticket to the funeral place can be almost impossible. The same applies to those who want to be near a loved one, who is in a critical condition, and there is no possibility of getting a last-minute flight.
In such cases, you may opt for bereavement flights, that are last-minute airline tickets offered at special fares to the close relatives of the deceased. Most of the airlines offer such facility, but the fares and policies may vary. Sometimes, such air tickets turn out to be much more expensive than the regular ones.
Otherwise known as compassion airfares, bereavement flights are often issued at discounted rates. Some airlines may offer flexible travel rules too. A discount of up to 50% of the original airfare is offered by some of the airlines. Sometimes, such discounted fares may turn out to be expensive than regular last-minute fares.
It has been observed that such discounts are offered on the highest unrestricted fares that are often exorbitant. Instead of that, you can search online to find cheaper flights. In that case, you may either book the same (cheaper ticket) or call up the officials to understand about their terms and conditions with regard to bereavement flights.
Such tickets often come with flexible travel rules. They include refundable options, open returns and flexibility in date changes.
As mentioned here, the policies regarding bereavement flights vary from one airline to another. The United Airlines no longer offer such discount fares. In case of Continental Airlines, the rates vary with the type of tickets. The rate of discount ranges from 5 to 20%.
Air Canada, Delta Airlines and many others have this facility but their policies differ. Some of them allow such facility on the death of immediate relatives only and others may offer this option in case of death of friends and close associates. In some cases, these tickets are issued to step relatives and foster relatives too.
Proof of death is required to be furnished for obtaining such discounted fares. Sometimes, you have to provide them with the details of the deceased, your relation with him/her, and information about the hospital or the funeral home.
If you want to avail this option, call up the airlines, and inquire about their terms and conditions regarding this facility. It will be better to compare the fares and terms offered by different airlines, before booking the ticket. If you are not in a mental state to do all this, ask one of your friends or a booking agent for help.
You have to furnish details about the deceased, your relation with him/her and the date of funeral. You may also be required to furnish a copy of the death certificate, when you return (or before booking the flight). If you have accumulated frequent flyer miles, the airlines may allow to use them in that trip.
This is only a brief overview about bereavement flights, and some of the related terms and conditions. So if you come across such situations, go through the various options, and choose the best one.