American Airlines drops bereavement fares

Aircraft painted in American Airlines livery (PRNewsFoto/American Airlines)
February 27, 2014 5:22:40 PM PST
American Airlines has ended its policy of extending special fares to passengers who must book a last-minute flight because of a relative's death.

The move brings American in line with the policy at merger partner US Airways, which does not offer bereavement fares.

Walk-up prices tend to be the highest on any airline, putting family members in a bind when a relative far away dies or becomes seriously ill.

American didn't have a specific discount for bereavement travel, but it had a different fare class that could produce a lower price than the traveler might otherwise find.

In a statement Wednesday, American said that it was making the change "to have a single, consistent program for American and US Airways." It said that customers can buy changeable and refundable tickets, and they can apply future reservations to a last-minute flight and be eligible to waive the fee - usually $200 for a domestic flight - for changing their itinerary.

United Airlines said that it offers a bereavement discount of 5 percent off the lowest available rate when the ticket is issued. Delta Air Lines did not respond to messages but says on its website that that it "offers additional flexibility on the best published fare" in such cases, if seats are available. Southwest Airlines and Virgin America said they don't offer bereavement fares.

Consumer advocates have said that travelers can sometimes find lower prices than the airlines' bereavement fares. Delta suggests as much on its website, saying that "lower promotional fares may be available" on the website or through its reservations center.

American and US Airways merged in December forming American Airlines Group Inc., which is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

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