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Beware of bereavement airfare ‘deals’

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Posted: Monday, July 22, 2013 1:51 pm

What if you’re headed home for a funeral or some medical emergency? Last-minute airfare can cost you a lot of money.

A Valley man let me know about an airline bereavement fare that turned out not to be a deal.

Bereavement fares are supposed to offer big discounts off the regular fares for immediate family headed to a funeral.

Charles from Mesa emailed saying his uncle passed away.

He needed a flight back home, so he called an airline and asked about a bereavement fare.

Charles says he was told to pay the full fee up front and that once he showed proof of his uncle’s death, the discount would be applied.

That didn’t happen. When Charles returned, he says the airline told him it didn’t even have a bereavement fare.

And Charles didn’t have proof of his conversation.

I found US Airways, AirTran, Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America don’t offer special bereavement fares.

And with the airlines that do offer them, they’re not likely the best deal.

As an example, I chose July 12 and a flight from Phoenix to Chicago, returning the July 14.

On Delta Airlines, their bereavement fare would be $1,238.

But the fare anyone could get on their website was much better, $914.

The American Airlines bereavement fare would be $931.

But online I found the “anyone could buy it fee” was $802.

Of the three airlines I checked, United had the best deal.

Their online “everybody” cost was $802. Their bereavement fare was 5 percent less, $763.

So, before buying, ask airlines what proof you need for a bereavement fare and how flexible it is for changes.

You may find that you need the flexibility that a bereavement fare offers.

But if you don’t, I found you could also find better deals on third-party sites.

The same flight was $801 on Orbitz.

And I found a $449 super saver flight on Hotwire.

 

• Joe Ducey is now helping people like you everyday on ABC15 News at 6 p.m. If you’ve got a consumer issue you can’t solve, “Let Joe Know.” Contact him at joe@abc15.com or (855) 323-1515.

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