American Airlines drops bereavement fares

3:49 PM, Feb 27, 2014   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) American Airlines will no longer offer bereavement fares for passengers taking last-minute flights because of a death in the family.

The move continues a trend already underway in the U.S. airline industry, though American says it's doing so to align its policy with merger partner US Airways, which does not offer such fares.

The Associated Press notes AA "didn't have a specific discount for bereavement travel, but it had a different fare class that could produce a lower price than the traveler might otherwise find."

AA said in a Wednesday statement that the change was made so the combined company would "have a single, consistent program for American and US Airways."

Last-minute fares typically are higher than advance-purchase fares, making it potentially expensive for family remembers needing to rush home by air.

Still, bereavement fares have begun to fade away during the past two decades. Many airlines ended them as the Internet made it easier for fliers to search for fares, including last-minute tickets. The proliferation of low-cost carriers such as Spirit, Southwest and JetBlue also has helped keep last-minute fares in check in many markets.

As a result, today's travelers often can find special discount fares that offer more of a price break than the standard bereavement fares that had been a standard offering at most carriers.

However, some airlines do still give fliers options.

United Airlines tells AP it has a bereavement discount of 5% off the lowest available rate. Delta says via its website that it "offers additional flexibility on the best published fare" in such cases, though it also advises customers that "lower promotional fares may be available" on its website and elsewhere.

Southwest and Virgin America do not offer bereavement fares.

As for American, it's change comes after it and US Airways closed on their merger in December to create what is now the nation's biggest carrier.

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