Travel arrangements are the last thing anyone wants to deal with in the midst of grief, but it's often necessary to hop on a plane quickly when a family member or close friend passes away. That can mean facing steep last-minute airline fares, especially if you need to fly during a holiday period or over a weekend. These days, unfortunately, it's no longer common for airlines to offer special bereavement rates, so it can be tricky to know where to look.

Airlines With Bereavement Policies

Delta Air Lines is a good option for those looking to travel last minute. While the airline doesn't offer a specific discount, they do allow for flexibility when booking a flight with little time to spare. The policy is available for "immediate family," which includes your spouse, child, parent, sibling and grandparent (a full list of the people to whom the policy applies is available on Delta's website). You will need proof of your relationship to the deceased, and all travel must be booked within seven days of departure. Check all current fares before booking through the bereavement policy, since sometimes the special rates may not be the cheapest.

Travelers should also look into Air Canada's bereavement flights. The airline provides reduced fares on certain flights when there is an "imminent death" in your immediate family. You must book the flight within seven days of travel when flying internationally or within 10 days when traveling within North America to get the discount. Call Air Canada's reservations line and provide details about your sick or deceased family member, or visit the Air Canada ticket counter at the airport with a copy of the death certificate or a letter from a doctor or hospital. A complete list of who is considered immediate family is available on the airline's website.

Airlines With No Bereavement Fares

There are some airlines that will not offer a discount to passengers who are traveling to a funeral or in a time of tragedy. These include: American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Frontier Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines. United Airlines has discontinued the bereavement discount, but will refund change fees on flights affected by unplanned events. Submit a refund request online via the United Refunds department in case of a death or illness in the family to get back change fees or the ticket fare itself. Be sure you have any necessary proof of the death or illness, as well as proof of your relationship to the deceased or sick family member when applying. Southwest Airlines will also forgo change fees if your travel plans require a last-minute alteration in case of a family emergency.

Other Options

While bereavement fares are no longer the norm for airlines, it's still possible to get affordable flights at the last minute if you're in a bind. Many travel websites like or Expedia offer last-minute deals. It can also be worth booking a flight using miles instead of cash. That can also be a great way to get an upgrade, which is always welcome in times of stress.