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Unfortunately most of us have experienced the frightening call; someone close to us is very ill or has passed away. If you are reading this now, you may be anticipating the dreadful moment and you have our deepest sympathies. Unfortunately we are never prepared at the time of the event. Airlines have made accommodation for this circumstance and you may be able to use several strategies to ease the financial burden, when you need it most.

    • Bereavement fares are offered by most airlines after the death of a family member.
    • Emergency fares to visit sick relatives, although not as prevalent are available from a number of airlines.
    • Free Airfare: This link will bring you to a host of charitable organizations willing to lend a hand.
    • Travel sites that specialize in last minute fares are discussed below.
    • Low fare Airlines: use our low fare airline locator to see which discount airlines service your destination.
    • A list of airline toll free phone numbers or North American departures is available here.
    • Airport Web Sites: Many times the airport you are traveling to will provide valuable money saving advise.
    • Use frequent flyer miles to get free ticket home.
Bereavement Fares


Regrettably most of us have been, or will be faced with the death of a very close friend or relative. Most airlines offer a special fares to relatives of the deceased and these have become known as bereavement fares.  Usually these fares offer a discount of 50% from the full fare ticket price.  They can still be expensive because the discount is based on a full fare ticket that is fully refundable and offers an open return. 

Bereavement fares are flexible, usually the return flight may be scheduled any time within a year without any penalty.  These fares can only be used when a relative has passed away and the airline may require proof of your relationship to the deceased as well as a copy of the death certificate when you use the return portion of the ticket. This fare can only be booked by telephone and the price may vary substantially from one carrier to another.

This is not the best time to shop around for airfares but having a friend do some research for you while you get your emotions together and packing completed is a good idea.

This link may be used to search regional fares for specific continents, an e ticket can be issued in seconds and you can head right to the airport.

Fares to Visit Sick Relatives


Some airlines offer emergency fares, to visit a relative who is severely ill. Not all airlines offer this fare and the ones that do generally require a doctors  certification that the relative is terminal.  Much like the bereavement fares listed above, these fares are severely discounted and allow date changes. The ticket must also be booked directly with the airlines telephone reservation agents.

None of us have the ability to determine how long an illness will last or the eventual outcome.  This makes planning to use discounted tickets for this type of travel more difficult but several alternatives are available and discussed below.

Less Expensive Alternatives


It may be you can only spend a certain amount of time with the sick relative or at the funeral services, and under those circumstances you may be able to book a less expensive ticket with a set return date by using the links on left of this page. Be aware some of these companies do not have the ability to book tickets departing on the same day a reservation is made but at least one, Orbitz can do this.


Hotwire is also a great source for last minute fares. You must remember the return portion is not changeable but should circumstances change, appealing to the airlines sympathy may be a good strategy. If this does not work two discount tickets may still cost less than one bereavement fare.


Discount airlines not listed in the conventional airline searches discussed above may offer an even greater value.  To see if the destination you will be visiting is serviced by any discount airlines please use our Discount Airline Locator Tool

Another option if you are not sure when you will return is, buy a one way ticket. Years ago it would have been considered outrageous to suggest this because the price was so high but many discount airlines offer one way tickets at very reasonable prices.

Airport Web Sites

World Airport Locator: Airports offer advise to travelers that can save a great deal of money.  Many have begun offering discount airline sections and most will provide information as to which airline service a particular city.  Sometimes a lesser known airport in a city may be serviced by smaller discount airlines unknown to most airports.  The link at the top of this section will investigate all the airports of a particular city or country.

Free Air Travel

If you do not have the resources to afford visiting a sick relative, one who has just passed away, or if you are sick and need transportation please use the links below:

Frequent Flyer Miles


If you have frequent flyer miles or even a friend or relative with miles (tickets are transferable) call the airlines mileage department and see if they can help. You will need a minimum of 25,000 miles for a US domestic ticket, 50,000 for a ticket to Europe. 

Many times last minute frequent flyer tickets are easier to redeem than scheduling flights months in advance. Advise the agent of the emergency and they just may find some space available for you on the next flight out with a free ticket.  Although you have to book the return portion of this ticket you may usually change the return for a nominal fee.

Some Useful Links


To follow you will find links to major US airline Emergency fare programs:  US Airways , Delta Airlines United Airlines , and  American Airlines.


We are never prepared at this moment, and our thinking is hampered when the tragedy occurs.  We hope this page can help when you need it and if this is a time of great pain for you and your family, you have our deepest sympathies.



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