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Monday, August 29, 2011

Not-So-Compassionate Fares: A Note About Bereavement Rates

A couple of weeks ago, a family emergency came out of nowhere and I soon found myself booking a last minute flight to Connecticut. Because it was SO last-minute, and the flights I was finding online were astronomically priced (by my standards), I decided to give "bereavement rates" a try. A quick Google search led me to this article, which basically said that bereavement rates are a thing of the past, that most airlines don't even offer them anymore. The article also said that bereavement rates can only be quoted (and granted) over the phone, and that online rates are almost always less expensive. Still, given my situation, I called three airlines in the hopes that maybe I would find some luck. I didn't.

First I called Delta, and they quoted me a flight that was maybe $20 higher than what I found online. Thanks, but no thanks.

Then I called United, and we didn't even get to prices, because the flights she was offering meant that I'd be traveling for at least 8 hours, going from Tampa to Detroit, to Chicago, to Timbuktu, to Hartford. Okay, that's an exaggeration, but the 8 hours of traveling is true, and I needed to be in CT by a certain time, so again, Thanks, but no thanks!

Finally, I called American Airlines. The representative was very efficient and thorough, made sure to get all of my information correct, and even apologized for my loss. (The previous two airlines did not extend this compassion.) Unfortunately, his kindness did not match the rate he quoted me, which was DOUBLE what I was finding online. He quoted me an $800+ flight, but with the "bereavement discount," it was $700+. This was the biggest Thanks But No Thanks of all. I laughed a little at the absurdity of the price, thanked him for his help, he apologized again for my loss, and upon hanging up, I crumbled up my list and set my browser to Expedia.

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