How to Book a Bereavement Flight, Plus Kudos to United Airlines

Victoria Chao (whom you may remember from her guest post about attempting to swim in Taiwan’s Sun Moon Lake) contacted me to tell me that she wanted to share a positive experience with United Airlines customer service. (Someone wanting to praise an airline is rare indeed!) In mid-June, she had to book a flight at the last minute to visit her dying grandmother. She was very pleased with how United made it easy for her to book a bereavement flight that got her to LA in time without spending a fortune.

No one gives airlines credit these days, so I wanted to thank my wonderful, outsourced United Airlines customer service representative for helping me book a bereavement flight today. I reserved my one-way flight to LA in a panic, fearful I wouldn’t be able to get out there in time. After I calmed down an hour later, I called the customer service line to see if I could switch out for a last-minute, round trip bereavement ticket. My representative canceled the original flight at no cost and re-booked it as a round trip with a 10% discount and no $25 booking fee. There may have been other nice things in the package as well, but I wasn’t in a state to concentrate.

If you find yourself needing to travel for a family emergency, make sure you have your loved one’s name, room number, hospital, and doctor’s name ready when you call your airline. I had everything but the doctor’s name, so I’ll have to give that to the service people when I check in. Also, try your best not to cry into the phone — sniffling confuses the automated voice message system.

You can read more of Victoria’s writing on her blog The Daily Chao.

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2 Responses to How to Book a Bereavement Flight, Plus Kudos to United Airlines

  1. Laura July 23, 2010 at 11:26 am #

    I tried to help my friend book a last minute flight for a family member’s funeral, and though Southwest was very friendly, they did not give any sort of discount. I believe discounts used to be more common for this type of thing, but for the most part, I think they’ve done away with them.

  2. Jen Laceda August 1, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    When I booked a bereavement flight last year, I had to show the proof (death certificate) for some discount.

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