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Expert: Dropping American Airlines Funeral Fares A “Bad Idea”

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FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS)American Airlines has dropped bereavement fares. It’s a policy the Fort Worth-based airline is adopting from US Airways as the two companies complete a merger.

“I think it’s sad,” said Karan Nimocks-Shawler, who flies American and has benefited from the bereavement rate. “When my father died it was $1,500 that night, to get home.”

With the bereavement fare, Nimocks-Shawler said she saved $800.

American released a statement Thursday that said –

“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.”

Dr. Traci Freling, an Associate Professor of Marketing at UT Arlington, thinks dropping the bereavement fare is a bad idea.

“You have a real opportunity with people in that unfortunate situation to look as though you’re the airline that cares,” he said. “You are the airline that’s going to get them to where they need to go to take care of family business and when you remove that I think you can probably alienate some customers.”

According to FareCompare and Rick Seaney the airlines that offer bereavement fares still include:

Alaska Airlines: An unspecified bereavement fare is offered in the case of the death of an immediate family member but the discount is “only available within seven days of travel.” No discounts are offered for strictly medical or emergency travel.

Delta Air Lines: Bereavement tickets vary in price and apply only to the death or imminent death of a family member. The fares cannot be purchased online but only by calling the airline.

United Airlines: The airline offers a 5-percent discount on what it calls compassion fares which include situations involving the death or serious illness of family members ranging from in-laws, domestic partners, nieces and nephews and more.

According to FareCompare, there are ways to save on last minute travel including always comparing prices, using miles and being flexible.

American and US Airways merged in December forming American Airlines Group Inc.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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