Why American Air Was Right To Get Rid Of Bereavement Fares

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Boeing 757. Photo courtesy of American Airlines

The Internet and my aviation geek chat has been abuzz ever since the newly merged US Airways and American Airlines announced that bereavement fares would no longer be offered.

For the uninitiated, airlines used to regularly offer last-minute discount air fares in cases where a family member has died.  I myself have used bereavement fares three times in my life, and I was grateful. That being said, I’m glad that the new American Airlines has ditched these fares.

Many times when a death happens, it’s a surprise. Having planned three funerals in my life, it’s also not cheap. There’s the coffin, flowers, handling of the body, the church/place for the ceremony, the services, and the repast, among other things. So here’s my question: Would it ever occur to you to ask any of these vendors for a bereavement discount?

They are all businesses participating in the capitalist system that need to be paid the going rate in order to stay in business. And like it or not, airlines are also businesses that have shareholders and need to look at the bottom line. And as sad as a death is, and as cold as it seems, it’s not the airlines’ fault that someone died and you have to pay the going market rate for a ticket.

If you really need a ticket, go to someone like Hotwire or Priceline. Or go to an exchange where folks sell frequent flyer miles. Or consider driving, if that’s an option. Again, I’m one who has taken advantage of bereavement fares.  But most airlines don’t even offer these fares anymore. So I’m with American on this one.

One thought on “Why American Air Was Right To Get Rid Of Bereavement Fares

  1. Stephen Pickford

    There might be room for a happy medium…rather than a straight “bereavement fare” per se. With effective yield management, one can look at whether a flight might still have inventory assigned to a discounted class, i.e. “V” or “T”, with the only proviso having been that such had to have been booked 7,14,21 days in advance. So, if a flight wouldn’t have gone out full anyway, allow for such a fare to be authorized with the provision of appropriate documentation, i.e. death certificate.

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