When unexpected medical emergencies or death of family members occur, the last thing people want to worry about is the cost of an airplane ticket. To help ease the pain, bereavement fares were once offered throughout the industry. These were discounted fares for those traveling at the last minute. But in recent years, most major U.S. airlines have contracted their helping hand. The latest carrier is American Airlines, which will adopt U.S. Airway’s no bereavement fare policy. As for low-cost carriers like Southwest and JetBlue, such fares were never offered.
But not all hope is lost. Carriers that still offer bereavement fares are:
1) Alaska Airlines – unspecified bereavement fares are offered, but are only valid within seven days of travel. However, there aren’t discounts for purely medical or emergency travel.
2) Delta Airlines – bereavement fares vary in price and only apply to the death or imminent death of a family member. These special tickets must be purchased by calling the airline.
3) United Airlines – the carrier refers to bereavement fares as “compassion” fares, which include circumstances involving the death or medical emergency of family members. In-laws and other relatives are accommodated. These tickets are discounted at 5%.
By offering these special fares, customers perceive these carriers as acknowledging and compassionate. Although United only offers a small 5% discount, it’s the thought that counts. So, was dropping bereavement fares a good idea for American Airlines? It may seem a bit heartless and could steer some customers away.
In addition, is this policy change really contributing to the ‘better service’ that the U.S. Airways-American merger promised? Let us know your thoughts below.