Travel SOS: Compassionate fares and bereavement flights

Leon explains how compassionate fares work and which airlines offer them.

Travel SOS: Compassionate fares and bereavement flights

Linley recently travelled to the UK for a funeral, where a friend mentioned that she could have flown there cheaper if she had told the airline she was travelling for compassionate reasons. She’s asked us if this is the case.


Q. Linley
Late last year, I travelled to London to say goodbye to an old friend and attend his funeral. While I was at the wake, another friend told me that some airlines offer cheaper flights for anyone travelling for a funeral. Is this true?

A. Many airlines do still offer what are called compassionate fares or bereavement travel. However, as you can imagine, there are some hoops you have to jump through to qualify for such a flight.

And while many airlines do have some type of bereavement policy, don’t forget that the number of budget airlines means you can fly pretty much anywhere at very competitive rates.

What most airlines will do though, is be a bit more flexible when it comes to organising a flight, especially if you need to change, cancel or alter return dates.

But if you’re in a situation where you’re dealing with the death of a loved one, it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth to go through the rigmarole of filling out paperwork to support a claim for discounted airfares.

Qantas offers a compassionate policy which makes allowances for family to travel at a low cost anywhere within Australia. It also offers refunds for flights that have been booked but will not be taken due to the death of a family member.

Other airlines that offer compassionate fares include Air Canada, Air France, Air New Zealand, American Airlines, Continental, Delta Air Lines, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Vueling and Westjet.

Popular airlines that do not offer compassionate fares are:

  • Air Asia
  • Emirates
  • Air China
  • Japan Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • Jetblue
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Jetstar
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • British Airways
  • Qatar Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Eastern Airlines
  • Ryanair
  • China Southern Airlines
  • Easyjet
  • Singapore Airlines.

Bottom line is: if you need to get somewhere fast at a low cost, try a budget carrier. You could also quickly look for any available flight and hotel deals that may save you money. Worst-case scenario, buy a one-way ticket until you know how your situation pans out.

Or you could ring your travel agent, explain your case and see what they come up with. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Hope that helps!

If you have a Travel SOS question, email it to and we’ll do our best to answer it – or pass it on to someone who can.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    21st Sep 2019
    We have used compassionate travel fares more than once with both TAA (now Qantas) and Ansett (now defunct). I do not recall any exceptional problems, the airlines seemed to take our word, although maybe they did make a quick phone call to check what we were saying was true. In any case compassionate travel is not something new, it has been available for decades.

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