Bereavement fares may be a dying breed, but some airlines still offer them — with strings attached. Sandra Ball was told she didn’t qualify for a Northwest Airlines special fare because she wasn’t a member of WorldPerks, the airline’s frequent flier program. Can it do that?
The short answer is: yes. But why would it want to?
Here’s Ball’s story.
On Dec. 10, my husband and I flew to Phoenix for his brother’s funeral. I booked through Travelocity after checking many different sites online.
After arriving in Phoenix, I learned that many others were able to fly for much less and it was suggested that request a bereavement fare. I talked to someone in the sales department, who said the bereavement fare would have cost $832 if available. My total flight cost was $941.
Ball asked Northwest for a refund, but was told only WorldPerks members qualified for a bereavement fare. I’ve never heard of an airline reserving bereavement fares for its best customers, so I suggested she write a polite e-mail to the powers that be at Northwest. A representative confirmed that a WorldPerks membership is a prerequisite for a bereavement fare, but that it should have been possible to enroll Ball at the time of her purchase.
While I understand your point of view regarding our bereavement fare policy, in the equitable fairness of other customer who have experienced similar situations, I am unable to offer you a refund for the fare difference. However, as a sincere gesture of goodwill, I have issued travel credit for you in the amount of $366. This amount reflects the fare difference between the ticket you purchased and our bereavement fare of $569.
Ball is relatively happy with the resolution, though she would have preferred a cash refund.
Lessons learned? Sometimes it pays to belong to an airline’s frequent flier program — even if you aren’t a frequent flier.
And yes, even airlines understand that grief-stricken passengers on their way to a funeral shouldn’t have to pay an overpriced walk-up fare. If this is what we can expect from the “new” Delta (which recently acquired Northwest) then things are looking up for passengers. I hope.