Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

Fare changes when bereaved - your experience?

Fare changes when bereaved - your experience?


Old May 27, 15, 3:41 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Programs: BAEC Silver, EY Plat, IHG & Accor Plat...
Posts: 695
Fare changes when bereaved - your experience?

I’m interested to hear the experiences of fellow Flyertalkers on the topic of airline ticket charges in the case of a close bereavement….if only to manage my own expectations. How did your airline react ?

I recently booked LHR-SYD-LHR with Etihad in J, as my elderly mother was nearing the end of her days and I wanted to be there. Unfortunately, she beat me to it by two weeks. On the day of receiving the news, I contacted Etihad to bring forward my outbound flight. I was required to pay the a full fare re-calculation plus change fees , some 1200. This is something I completely accept in the normal course of events but in circumstances beyond my control, and perhaps unfairly on my part, I didn’t expect this. (I won’t go into the detail of how poor the re-booking experience was by any standard , let alone a premium call centre for top tier members). In the end, after over a month elapsed including chasing EY and supplying a death certificate, I’m being refunded a 275 change fee.

But I recall a budget holiday to Spain over a decade ago , during which my wife’s grandma unexpectedly died, and I don’t recall any real cost or hassle from the airline in bringing us back the next day - it was all handled in one call as well. Hence my question – if you’ve been in my shoes, how did you fare?

(Mods: feel free to move, I’m posting here as I consider this my “home” forum and with plenty of viewers who may have the experience)

Last edited by LostAntipod; May 27, 15 at 3:43 am Reason: clarification
LostAntipod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:09 am
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: TLV (Nutbug!)
Programs: BA*G, A3*G
Posts: 774
My experience with BA and BMI when my grandfather died was fantastic.

My parents were visiting my aunt in Zurich. BA changed their flight at no cost at all, didn't ask for any evidence, and charged very reasonable walk-up fares for my aunt, uncle and cousins.

BMI sold me a Prem Econ ticket from TLV at four hours notice with a flexible return date, for about 400 IIRC (this was 2009), again just on my word that it was a bereavement, and gave me a courtesy upgrade to Biz on check-in, same on the way back (may have been a coincidence and I was BMI Gold). They had clearly also made a note for crew, as the CSD came up to make sure I was okay.

The whole family was back in London by that evening at minimal cost and hassle. Very impressive on all counts.
frb98mf is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:15 am
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Reading UK
Programs: BA Silver, Accor Gold
Posts: 112
First of all condolences for your loss. I have not been in exactly this situation but I did have to cancel a trip I'd already paid for when my mother died. The cost was not reimbursable by the airline so it was my travel insurance which paid up. However this may or may not be an option for you depending on the state of your late mother's health at the time you booked the ticket.
IanAsiaTraveller is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:23 am
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: London
Programs: OneWorld Emerald (BA) & Sapphire (QR), Star Alliance Gold (O6), SkyTeam Elite Plus (AZ)
Posts: 2,232
When I needed to change a (non-flex) fare with NZ, they were very helpful. I the end I had to throw away the return. They refunded me half what I paid, plus the change of date fee i'd already paid when I submitted the death cert.

I think a lot of unwritten flexibilty in this circumstance depends on where the airline is based, and the compassion in the respective culture. New Zeland and the UK...compassion. Middle East, not so much. I also imagine somewhere like EY, there would be a massive amount of "escalation to managers", none of whom would want the buck to stop with them if they didn't follow the fare rules exactly. I'm sure their jobs would be on the line.
shefgab is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:23 am
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Jan 2002
Posts: 38,622
Most fares I have seen have allowed for full refund in case of death of family member , so getting the change fee back would be expected

As far as rebooking goes, regardless of reason, the current fare would be payable
Dave Noble is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:23 am
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: LHR, SAN and sale destinations
Programs: Dark Grey with AA, primary colours with BA, VS, DL and AZ.
Posts: 1,208
My condolences, I'm sorry to hear of your loss. I've not kept up on BA's bereavement policy, but we're just short of two years since I last needed to ask for a change to be with a family member at such a difficult time. I was trying to get to my grandmother during her last days and had already booked a separate trip with BA. They let me cancel a non-refundable ticket without charge.

In a separate event, my aunt passed away just before Easter weekend this year and I was unable to change the destination of my already-purchased ticket to make it to the funeral, but it may have been there simply weren't seats available because of the holiday.
Arsey00 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:24 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Programs: BAEC Silver, EY Plat, IHG & Accor Plat...
Posts: 695
Cheers for the first replies. I will be talking to my travel insurer as there were other costs in Sydney I lost as well.
LostAntipod is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 4:28 am
Moderator: British Airways Executive Club
Join Date: Jan 2009
Programs: Battleaxe Alliance
Posts: 20,717
This thread has been moved from BA forum to here in order to open up the discussion to a wider audience, as variety of experiences may be beneficial to our frequent flyer community.

LTN Phobia
Moderator: BA forum
LTN Phobia is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 5:08 am
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: North West, UK
Programs: BA GfL (GGL/CCR), Hilton Diamond
Posts: 1,853
Fare changes when bereaved - your experience?

I was in this situation just a few weeks ago. I had flown with my wife from DUB to MCO on an ex-EU business class sale deal and upgraded using a GUF2 and joker into first class.

My mother was on her last legs with just a few days of our holiday to go and I had to ring the GGL line to ask for an early return. I had hoped for a no cost change, hoping that a combination of my status and the situation would see me through.

The best BA could do was drop one of the change fees but in the end I had to pay £1450 to change my return first class tickets. I took that on the chin and it's going through my travel insurer now.

I appreciated the time and energy the agent expended on finding the best solution for me, but I wasn't that impressed with the financial offer.
billinghamn is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 5:20 am
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 15
in the old days there were special bereavement fares (which is a separate issue from changing an itinerary due to bereavement, I guess)

many years ago I had a lot of trouble getting a refund for a ticket I bought for a relative who died before they could use it. it made me really angry at the airline for several years after.
LilyTraveler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 6:28 am
Join Date: May 2014
Programs: BA Bronze
Posts: 29
Not quite a bereavement, but in December 2014 I was in MCO with my husband, having flown BA from LGW. We received news that an immediate family member had attempted suicide.

As we had a flydrive I had to call BA Holidays. They told me there was nothing they could do as the flight that night was full. That was it. She said we would have to wait for the next days. After I asked her to just cancel the return as we would have to take a Lufthansa one way I had already looked at, she changed her tune and all of a sudden two seats in the same class we were due to return on (WT+) had magically become available, for a 600 change fee. We took these and the travel insurance is still sorting out the claim.

We ended up in the front row of WT+ with super legroom, presumably as we were the last 2 to check in after a dash to the airport. Obviously weren't in a state to appreciate it tbough!
Fluzz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 8:32 am
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Montreal and Dublin
Programs: AA Platinum
Posts: 2,670
Fare changes when bereaved - your experience?

There are still bereavement dates filed. But these tend to be 10-20% discounts over full fare Y fares. unless you need to travel the same day or during a very busy holiday period they're very rarely cost effective.
zkzkz is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 8:51 am
FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 39,702
There are no generalizations to be had and thus, it is important to post the specific situation in the specific board for the carrier in question.

1. Some carriers will cancel/change tickets upon proof of the death of an immediate relative (some may require payment of the full change, but refund later when proof is received).

2. Some carriers will offer bereavement fares which are typically not a savings, but do have flexibility and allow for necessarily close-in bookings.

3. Many travel insurance policies will cover varying aspects of these situations. But, just as different carriers have different policies and structures, the same applies to insurance. The only way to know is to carefully read your policy.
Often1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 8:53 am
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: PHL & PSA/BLQ
Programs: AA PPRO, Marriott/Hilton Gold, AMX-Plat, Global Entry
Posts: 2,567
First off, condolences on your loss.

Thought I would point out that this is where frequent flier points (miles/avios...) can really come in handy. Sometimes even to the point of purchasing them.

If you have the right status, changes come at no cost and they can (the non-saver version for example on AA) get you on whatever flight you want/need provided there is inventory.
JMN57 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old May 27, 15, 9:31 am
Join Date: May 2013
Location: USA
Programs: AA Gold, UA Silver, DL, QF; HHonors Gold, Marriott Gold
Posts: 80
Allow me to express my condolences as well.

When my father passed away last year after a four year battle with cancer I was fortunate enough to be visiting at the hospital, and I had to delay my return flights home scheduled for that evening for a week or so. I had also already booked my next visit for two weeks later on a different airline and cancelled those entirely.

The first airline, American, changed my flights very readily and gave me an address to send a copy of the death certificate to for a refund of the change fees and fare difference. I'm not sure how long it took to process the refund, but it wasn't a full credit card billing cycle.

Delta, the airline for the second flights (which were cancelled entirely), just asked for the name of the funeral home, noted that in the reservation, and refunded to "airline credit" the entire cost of the tickets, with no change fees ever involved.

I thought both handled it well, although it was very nice to not have one more place to send a copy of the death certificate in Delta's case.

Spend time with your family while you can.
AussieExPat is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread