Bereavement Fares: Travel Hacking for Family Emergencies

While I was able to spend quality time with my family and relatives over the Christmas break, some of those around me have not been so fortunate. When the illness or death of an overseas family member happens suddenly, an expensive last minute flight is the last thing you want to worry about on top of grieving and being with your loved ones.

I recently found out about bereavement fares, which are highly discounted fares offered by Air Canada and WestJet in case of death or imminent death of a family member. Anecdotally, these can be around 50-70% off normal fares.

Obviously, bereavement fares come with a whole host of restrictions so that people don't abuse airline policies and actually use them for family emergencies.
  • You will need to call the airline directly to book your flight (Air Canada: 1-888-247-2262, WestJet: 1-888-937-8538)
  • Air Canada requires documentation from the hospital, funeral home or a death certificate. WestJet does not list the information required, but I would hazard a guess that it's similar.
  • Air Canada requires the family member to be an immediate family member (spouse, child, sibling, parent), whereas WestJet extends the definition to grandparents, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews
  • Air Canada requires the travel to be within 10 days of booking, whereas WestJet requires that travel be completed within 14 days of booking

For the full bereavement fare policies, click on the links below:

I hope that none of you will have a need for this policy anytime soon. If you do find yourself in this situation, I hope you get at least a tiny bit of relief that Air Canada and WestJet can ease the financial burden during a difficult time.

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday, happy new year and good health as we enter a new decade!