American Airlines explains the end of bereavement fares

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The airline says the practice of offering discounted fares to people flying to a family member’s funeral is outdated, but quite a few Facebook users called the company heartless.

By Matt Wilson | Posted: February 28, 2014

American Airlines announced on its website that it would no longer offer emergency or bereavement fares, and as news of that change spread, comments from angry flyers began popping up on Facebook.

For example: “You should rename yourselves to ‘We Don’t Care Airlines.'”

American is adopting the policy of US Airways, the company with which it merged last year. The combined company’s new CEO, Douglas Parker, came from US Airways.

American spokesman Matt Miller offered this statement about ending bereavement fares to CNN:

We remain committed to doing all we can to relieve the burden of travel for our customers in times of need. With the advent of more choices, lower cost carriers and larger networks, the industry has started to move away from bereavement fares because walk-up fares are generally lower than in the past, and customers now have more opportunities to find affordable fares at the last minute.

American is moving toward that industry trend and the airline offers customers changeable and refundable options with the ability to apply future reservations to bereavement travel without change fees. We believe this policy is a cost-effective solution for customers in need of bereavement travel.

Discount airlines such as Southwest and Virgin have never offered bereavement fares, but Delta and United are continuing with their bereavement fare policies. United offers discounts of 5 percent on the cheapest fares available.

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That may not seem like much, but people seem to care about the gesture. Taking something away from people who are grieving simply looks bad, and it leads to comments such as this:

American, which usually replies to social media complaints about lost luggage or missed connections, is letting comments about bereavement fares go largely unanswered. 

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