Many people don’t like going to the airport—the rush to make a connection, the unexpected loss of luggage, and paying for expensive airport food can make for an unpleasant experience. Luckily, some airlines know this, like Alaska Airlines, and offer a generous bereavement leave fares.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Alaska Airlines’ Bereavement Fare Policy
- How to Get Alaska Airlines Bereavement Discount
- Other Ways to Save on Bereavement Travel
It’s even worse when you might be worried about something else—a loved one’s death can call for last-minute travel plans, costly airline tickets, and grief. And, some bereavement flights can be cost-prohibitive. We'll explain more about Alaska Airlines' bereavement policy as well as more tips for saving on bereavement travel.
Alaska Airlines’ Bereavement Fare Policy
Getting bereavement leave from work is hard enough. Luckily, getting those bereavement fares can be a bit easier.
Take advantage of 10 percent
Alaska’s policy is to offer a 10 percent discount to bereaved passengers. But for some passengers, this isn’t much. If you’re flying from Seattle to Portland, for instance, that’s not an expensive flight. But what if you need to fly from Maui to London? That 10 percent could mean the difference between attending a loved one’s funeral or not.
What’s the catch?
It’s easy to be suspicious of a good deal, but Alaska laid out some simple rules. For one, you can only purchase a ticket with a bereavement fare via phone call. Otherwise, it isn’t valid.
You’ll also need to pick the lowest fare—you’ll need to pick the coach or economy option, depend on how it’s worded for your flight. You’ll also need to join the Mileage Plan program. The program is free, and you can join right before requesting a bereavement flight.
Contact customer service
Most people buy their tickets online, without ever interacting with a customer service agent. But when it comes to claiming your bereavement fare, that’s what you’ll need to do. Call Alaska Airlines’ reservations and customer service department at 1-800-252-7522.
But if you’re hearing or speech-impaired, there’s another option. Call the above number, and dial 711. That’s the right extension to get the level of customer service you need.
How to Get Alaska Airlines Bereavement Discount
Alaska Airlines makes getting the discount pretty easy. Here are some things to watch out for before you buy your ticket.
Make sure it’s an immediate family member
The definition of “immediate family member” changes with each company. For Alaska Airlines, the definition is relatively straightforward. Did your spouse, domestic partner, child, or stepchild pass away? All these relationships are eligible. Parents, including step-parents and grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren also count. Alaska Airlines extends it farther—in-laws count, too.
Travel within seven days
You can’t purchase well in advance. For most people, that policy works. But some people have unique end-of-life wishes. If they want to be cremated, they could put off their official service indefinitely. Weeks or months could pass until the family gathers to commemorate their life.
When you get the news about a loved one’s passing, don’t jump to purchase. Wait, and purchase once you know the plans.
Don’t combine discounts
Alaska offers a lot of other discounts. They often run seasonal and holiday specials. These promotions are often offered online, dropped into your email inbox, or shown through ads.
But there are more official discounts, like the military, government, and companion fares. It’s worthwhile to figure out how much you’ll be saving with each discount, so do the match and pick the one that saves you the most.
Make sure it’s a new ticket
Most people tell us to buy tickets in advance. That’s the best way to get savings, right? That’s not true in this case. If you purchased a ticket home, you can’t apply the discount after you already started traveling. This is especially true if you bought it far in advance, thinking you would go home for the holidays.
Other Ways to Save on Bereavement Travel
Unfortunately, airline tickets are only one part of the expenses. You might not have a place to stay once you arrive. And how will you get around?
Most hotels don’t talk about bereavement rates on their sites. All the advertising is dedicated to luxurious vacations and repose from busy cities. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t considered it. Most people just don’t think to ask for it. Find a hotel that might fit into your budget. Then, call ahead. Don’t just make your reservations. Explain your situation, and they might offer you a discounted rate.
Ask for it
Car rental companies don’t offer bereavement rates. This is true in most cases, even if you call ahead and explain your situation. Trying to book at the last minute means the prices are much higher than usual. But, if you want, you can call and explain your situation to the company. They probably won’t offer bereavement rates, but may give you another type of discount, coupon code, or something similar.
Make a Plan for Bereavement Travel
You can’t plan for some things. In some cases, you’ll know ahead of time thanks to a diagnosis. This is obviously isn’t true for sudden deaths, even if your loved one started end-of-life planning far in advance. So while planning your travel, the best thing you can do is try and take advantage of bereavement discounts. If a rate feels too costly, a friendly call to customer service might get you a percentage off of your travel expenses.
- Alaska Airlines. “Bereavement fares.” n.d., www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/bereavement-fare