Which airline offers the best bereavement fare? Which don't offer them at all?

What if you need to head home for a funeral or some medical emergency? Last minute airfare can cost you a lot of money.

Bereavement fares are supposed to offer big discounts off the regular fares for immediate family headed to a funeral.

One Valley man let me know about an airline bereavement fare that turned out not to be a deal. Charles from Mesa emailed saying his uncle passed away and he needed a flight back home. So, he called an airline and asked about a bereavement fare.

Charles says he was told to pay the full fee upfront and that once he showed proof of his uncle's death, the airline would apply the discount.

But, that didn't happen. When Charles came home, he says the airline told him it didn't even offer a bereavement fare.

And, to make things worse, Charles didn't have proof of his conversation with the airline.

So I decided to find out which airlines offer the best bereavement fares. Instead, I found that many don't offer them at all.

I found U.S. Airways, AirTran, Southwest, JetBlue and Virgin America don't offer special bereavement fares.

And, if you do find an airline that offers them, they're not likely the best deal.

As an example, I chose a random date -- July 12th -- and a flight from Phoenix to Chicago, returning the 14th.

On Delta Airlines, their bereavement fare would be $1,238. But, the fare anyone could get on their website was much better: $914.

The American Airlines bereavement fare would be $930.70. But, online I found the 'anyone could buy it fee' was just $802.

Of the three airlines I checked, United offered the best deal for that weekend.

Their online fare cost $802. Their bereavement fare was 5 percent less, $763.

So, before buying, be sure to ask airlines what proof you need to give them to qualify for a bereavement fare and how flexible it is for changes.

You may find that you need the flexibility that a bereavement fare offers.

But, if you don't, I found you could also find better deals on third-party sites. The same flight was $801 on Orbitz and I found a $449 super saver flight on Hotwire.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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