Bereavement and family urgency fares: how to save on airfare

To the point In the event of a family emergency or death, airlines can offer discounts to help customers through this difficult time.

When there’s a family emergency, you need to get to your loved ones as quickly as possible. Here’s how airlines work to take advantage of these emergency or bereavement fares during this stressful time.

What are the discounts for family emergency or bereavement tariff?

Family emergency fares are special discounts offered by airlines for emergency situations. The trip must be made immediately, with the goal of being by the side of a close family member.

These situations may require immediate presence with the immediate family:

  • An imminent or recent death;
  • A serious accident;
  • A serious illness such as a heart attack, or someone who is terminally ill or admitted to intensive care.

It’s worth pointing out that sometimes the cost of round-trip airfare for a family emergency isn’t exactly cheaper. On the other hand, it does offer interesting flexibility and savings such as last-minute free changes and cancellations, free checked baggage or seat selection.

What to do in the event of a family emergency or death

1. Contact the airline right away by phone: explain your situation and ask if they offer reduced fares in the event of a family emergency or death.

2. Be prepared to provide proof. Depending on the airline, you will need to provide family emergency information and documents such as :

  • A death certificate from the funeral home, hospital or coroner;
  • The complete address and telephone number of the funeral home, hospital or palliative care centre;
  • An official letter with hospital letterhead or name of attending physician;
  • Date and time of funeral ;
  • Form requested by the airline ;
  • Relationship (must be immediate family), etc.

Make sure you have as much information as possible with you when you call the airline.

What’s more, a high degree of flexibility in terms of flight date and time is required, as last-minute flights are often fully booked.

What is the definition of immediate family?

Here again, the definition varies from airline to airline, but it concerns :

  • Spouse ;
  • Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, son-in-law or daughter-in-law ;
  • Parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, great-grandparents ;
  • Brother, half-brother, sister and half-sister;
  • Uncle, aunt, nephew, niece ;
  • Legal guardian.
Airplane Seats

Airlines offering special fares for family emergencies and deaths

If you don’t, your request for a reduced fare will be denied. The clauses explained below may change at any time without notice. It is your responsibility to read all the fine print.

Air Canada

To benefit from Air Canada’s family emergency travel policy, travel must take place outside North America on Air Canada,Air Canada Rouge, Air Canada Express or with a multiple code through their airline partners.

First, call Air Canada toll-free at 1-888-247-2262 to book a future flight with a family emergency fare. Only the Basic Economy, Standard, Flex Economy, Comfort and Latitude fares are available. The trip must be taken within 10 days of booking and for a maximum of 60 days.

Then, no later than 7 days after the traveler’s return home, an e-mail must be sent by the traveler to with the proof of death requested in the initial call. Otherwise, you will have to pay the difference in price compared with the rate in effect on the day of booking.

Please note that there are no refunds for trips already taken.

Air France

Air France offers a reduced fare for the death of a family member. This is only valid for travel between mainland France and Martinique, Guadeloupe, Reunion or French Guiana. You should call them on +33 9 69 39 36 54.

Air Transat

Air Transat does not offer special fares for family emergencies and deaths.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines and its Bereavement Fare policy offers a 10% discount on the lowest airfare in effect at the time of the call. You must call them at 1-800-252-7522 to reserve.

Calm Air

In Manitoba and Nunavut, Calm Air offers a discount for round-trip travel in the event of a family emergency. You absolutely must call their Customer Service department at 1-800-839-2256.

Delta Airlines

Members of the Delta Airlines SkyMiles loyalty program (free enrolment) are eligible for a rate that offers flexibility and avoids the need to pay certain service charges. Buying a plane ticket for an unforeseen reason won’t necessarily be cheaper, but it will give you greater flexibility during this difficult time. It is valid for international flights only.

There are two ways to book the special rate:

  • Contact them via their Customer Service page, by clicking on “Send us a message”;
  • Call them at 1-800-221-1212.

PAL Airlines

To take advantage of a special fare in the event of an urgent family situation, reservations must be made by calling the PAL Airlines reservations department at 1-866-962-0380.


Porter does not offer special rates for family emergencies and deaths.


WestJet offers bereavement or family emergency fares under certain conditions and must be called at 1-888-937-8538. Only Econo and EconoFlex fares are available for this special price, and only for WestJet Rewards members (free registration).

Or you can apply for a fare after the trip. Up to 7 days after travel, a refund request can be made using a form on the WestJet website. If accepted, a credit will be issued to the WestJet Rewards account. The flight must have been purchased directly from WestJet and be an Econo or EconoFlex fare.

Tips for maximizing your savings on an airline ticket

If nothing works the way you want, explore other tips and options:

  • Use your points or cash back: through your preferred loyalty program, consider using your points from credit card programs such as Scene+, Avion, Membership Rewards, TD Rewards, BONUSDOLLARS, etc. Buy your plane ticket and make your travel arrangements as you wish, then use your points to get a statement credit.
  • Use search tools such as Google Flight and SkyScanner to find the best deals.
  • If you need to travel to Quebec, take advantage of our $500 airfare (or $250 one-way).

Last-minute flights with airline points

If you have family abroad, accumulating points that can be accessed at any time is highly recommended.

These points earned through your favorite frequent flyer program will be extremely useful, and the trip will be booked very quickly.

Aeroplan Program

The Aeroplan program is extremely flexible, with over 50 airline partners. You can fly Air Canada, SWISS, United Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Turkish Airlines and more.

In this very last-minute example, a quick flight to Paris (CDG) is possible for as little as 27,700 Aeroplan points (with 1 stopover) or 56,600 Aeroplan points (non-stop) in economy class.

YUL CDG Derniere minute FR Aeroplan

This avoids paying $888.

YUL CDG argent FR

Avios program

The Avios program covers all airlines in the Oneworld network (Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Japan Airlines, Qantas, Royal Air Maroc, etc.).

For the same example of a last-minute ticket to Paris, you can use 29,000 Avios with British Airways.

Avios ENG only YUL CDG

The same ticket is worth over $4,500 in economy class!

BA argent ENG

Flying Blue Program

Flying Blue is the Air France-KLM program. Depending on the imminent departure date, the number of Flying Blue Miles required is between 20,000 Miles and 161,500 Miles for the next few days.

AF Flying blue YUL CDG FR

The same non-stop flight paid for in cash is worth $1,602 on Air France.

Prix argent AF FR

Trip cancellation and interruption insurance

If you’re traveling abroad and need to return home unexpectedly for a family emergency, consult your travel insurance brochure.

This falls under the definition of trip interruption, and you may be entitled to reimbursement for certain expenses in such a situation, either through your credit card insurance or your personal travel insurance. Contact your credit card issuer to find out how to proceed in such a situation.

If you’re about to leave on a trip and you can’t go because of an emergency, this could be a reason to cancel your trip. Same scenario here: contact your credit card or personal travel insurance.

How do I contact Air Canada Customer Service?

Air Canada can be reached toll-free at 1-888-247-2262.

When to buy a plane ticket at the best price?

With points, the best time to buy a plane ticket varies from airline to airline. Please read our article“When is the best time to book flight tickets with points“.

Paid for in cash, the best time to buy a plane ticket varies according to destination and dates. Your best allies are Google Flights and SkyScanner. Read our guide to each search tool.

Is it possible to be reimbursed for one flight only?

In the event of cancellation, you may be able to recover part, all or none of the cost, depending on the conditions of your flight ticket. Read our guide to Air Canada’s different fare classes: How to choose, as it’s a good indicator of what airlines generally do.

Contact the airline for more information.

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Caroline Tremblay
I'm Caroline, a loyalty program specialist! I use my points to travel more often and at a lower price with my spouse and our two children. I'm passionate about writing about the latest rewards news and how to put more points in your pocket.

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