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American Airlines no longer offers emergency or bereavement fares, it announced quietly on its website, adding that it does "offer customers flexible fare options when booking last minute travel for a variety of reasons."
The new policy took effect February 18. According to Travelocity blog The Window Seat, the American's old policy had a fixed, reduced price for each route, and passengers could change their flight as needed. Back in 2004, SmarterTravel found a $40 difference between an American Airlines bereavement fare and the lowest online fare.
George Hobica, the founder of Airfarewatchdog, told Business Insider the bereavement fares weren't popular anyway, "because the savings weren't significant. You'd save more by using the name your own price option on Priceline and that's what I usually suggested people do when they had to travel last minute."
According to the AP, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America don't offer bereavement fares. United Airlines offers 5% off the lowest available fare.
In a statement, an American Airlines spokesperson 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.”
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