How to Get Bereavement Fare and Save Money When Traveling to a Funeral
Funerals seem to happen at the most inconvenient and unlikely times. This piece explores funeral bereavement flights, but also includes some additional funeral travel tips to help you save money. Frankly, bereavement fares might not be the most affordable way to travel, thanks to the cost-saving magic of the internet.
Phone calls to airlines can save you hundreds of dollars on a flight, so they are phone calls worth making.
There are three steps to getting a bereavement rate from an airline:
1. Contact the hosting mortuary for a bereavement notice.
2. Find an airline that provides a bereavement rate.
3. Provide that document to the airline.
Airline bereavement fares aren't nearly as common as they once were. That's due to cost increases in fuel, new security expenses, and cleaning costs associated with healthy travel since the pandemic. Furthermore, it's easy to fake a bereavement document on a letterhead on a home laptop now, so most airlines don't offer them anymore.
Not Every Airline Offers Bereavement Fares, but Call Them Anyways
Some airlines will provide greatly reduced rates for people in mourning, and occasionally airports will allow for parking discounts if you contact a manager ahead of time. This might save several hundred dollars depending on the airport policy and their parking prices. Contact the airport and ask to speak to the parking garage customer service manager.
Airlines that usually provide bereavement flights include Delta, Alaskan Airlines, and West Jet. Southwest, American Airlines, and United usually do not offer them.
Call and ask to speak to a booking manager if you are a regular flier or are part of a "sky club" or similar discount program with the airline. Cancellations do happen and you might be able to grab a recently canceled seat on an immediate flight for just a few bucks.
Don't Forget Your Credit Card Miles. If you've got a credit card that earns "miles" and airfare, give them a call too. You might be due for a free or cheap flight.
Online Travel Services Might Provide the Most Savings on Flights
If you're not getting a good fare directly from the airline, check travel websites like:
There are many other options available, but these sites have a reputation for offering the lowest rates on airfare, hotels, and rental cars.
Sometimes even our best efforts won't find super affordable pricing for airline travel. Should this happen to you, know there are other ways to travel on a budget.
Amtrak Offers Bereavement Discounts
Amtrak train tickets are generally pretty close in price to normal airfare prices. But Amtrak does offer a bereavement discount and greatly reduced rates for children traveling to a funeral. Ask the funeral home to provide a bereavement letter for every individual who is traveling.
Reservations are required and can be made no more than a week before traveling. You'll need to provide the names of the deceased, the funeral home handling the case, and their funeral director. Contact Amtrak directly at 800-872-7245.
Greyhound Offers Other Discounts
While not an airline nor a bereavement fare, Greyhound offers meaningful discounts for military, seniors, and students. If you fall into one of these categories you might find Greyhound to be your cheapest way to travel. This is worth considering if you're in a bind trying to get to a funeral.
What is a Bereavement Letter / Bereavement Notice / Grief Letter?
When you need to get a discounted rate to travel to a funeral, the hosting funeral home will help. A bereavement letter or notice is a formal letter written by mortuary staff that acknowledges your relationship to the deceased and announces the dates of funeral services.
It will include the funeral home's letterhead at the top and may say something like:
John Doe is grieving for the passing of his mother, Mrs. Jane Doe I. Her funeral services are planned for October 1, 2019 through October 2, 2019. Please contact me with any questions you could have.
Funeral Director Name and license numbers
Have the mortuary email you the bereavement notice, and print several copies. They do come in handy.
Lastly, know that bereavement letters can also be used for other situations, like taking time off from work or school. If you miss a payment on a bill sometimes you can contact the creditor and ask you them to waive any fees. You'll still need to pay the bill, of course, but you won't pay the usual late fees.
Ultimately, bereavement flights aren't as common as they once were. But there are other ways to save money when traveling to a funeral.