One of the worst feelings ever is finding out that a loved one is terribly injured, ill or dead and being hundreds or thousands of miles away. It’s the last things any ever wants to think about, but the reality is that unless you have enough miles saved up or have the finances to pay for a last-minute ticket, being by their side is not going to be easy. Last minute fares are never ideal thanks to close in fees airlines tack onto tickets purchased within 21 days of take off. It’s not like emergency situations are planned or always foreseen so airlines actually have set aside special “compassion or bereavement fares” for immediate family members which can mean fares up to 50% off and a huge relief, but not all airlines offer it. Some even only offer 5%. If you can get a quote cheaper than sites like, then it could be worth the hassle.

How Are Compassion/Bereavement Tickets Purchased?

Each airline that offers Compassion/Bereavement tickets has its own policy on honoring the fares, but all require the request made over the phone. You can’t purchase tickets online so make sure to have the number for various airlines ticketing agents. As difficult as it may be, airlines also require proof of the situation in the form of a death certificate, doctors note, medical bill, name of hospice or funeral home. Some airlines require for tickets to be purchased three days before the flight and a return no later than thirty days of leaving.

Who is Considered an Eligible Family Member?

The family members eligible include: adopted ward, aunt, brother, brother-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, domestic partner, father, father-in-law, foster brother, foster daughter, foster father, foster mother, foster sister, foster son, granddaughter, grandfather, grandmother, grandson, half-brother, half-sister, husband, legal guardian, mother, mother-in-law, nephew, niece, sister, sister-in-law, son, son-in-law, stepbrother, stepdaughter, stepfather, stepmother, stepsister, stepson, uncle and wife.

Reservation Lines for Airlines That DO Have Compassion Fares

Air Canada                  (888) 247-2262

Air France                   (800) 237-2747

American Airlines        (800) 221-1212

Delta Airlines              (800) 433-7300

LAN                            (866) 436-9526

Lufthansa                   (800) 645-3880

United Airlines            (800) 241-6522

The Bottom Line

Shopping for airfare is daunting during difficult and sad times, but if it must be done then check all of your options. With so many restrictions and discounted travel websites available, going with airline bereavement fares may very well be your last option considering that so many other options are available especially through airline discount sites. It also doesn't hurt to put aside enough points for a round trip flight in case of an emergency.