Do you have a plan in place in case someone close to you (but living far away) suddenly falls ill or dies? Many of us have family and friends who we cannot reach simply by jumping in the car. Where are your grandparents, parents, siblings, close friends, god children, or any children who you are designated guardians for?

Spend some time thinking about the unthinkable now.


This is much more than just knowing the major airports for flying.


Research what airlines you might fly, both major and minor carriers. The airlines you fly for well-planned visits may vary substantially from what you select in the event of an emergency. Airlines may be booked, or last-minute flights may easily cost 6xs the normal rate.

Look at the policies of those airlines. Some airlines still offer some form of bereavement tix. For some situations, these will be a great deal (because they offer things like no change fees) or they may be much more expensive (because you have to buy directly through the published airline instead of through discount travel sites).

Other airlines don’t have any discounts (e.g., British Airways), or discounts may only apply for domestic fares.

Ensure your situation (compassion fares vs bereavement fares) fits the stipulations of the airline and that you can get the required documentation (e.g. copy of death certificate, name of hospital).

Consider other options. Don’t forget to check with any discount programs that you are a part of. Buying tix through your corporate account, AAA, airline miles, or perks with your credit card may save you a lot because their rates aren’t set in the same way as published fares. Knowing what your options are ahead of time may save  you from needless time calling programs that won’t work or easily forgetting to check others.

Create a basic plan. Have a plan in place for which airport you should fly into, where it’s convenient for family/friends to pick you up, or where it makes the most sense to drive, taxi, train, metro, or bus. Consider a couple of different scenarios depending the nature of the emergency or whether there are family/friends nearby.

Have a place where pertinent info of your plan is written down. You’re likely to be in shock if you get a call in the middle of the night and having a document that details what you know and steps to make can really help. You aren’t likely to have a complete plan, but ensuring you have guidance to narrow down your search when the time comes will help a lot. You may have to make quick decisions on little sleep, and a general plan written down can help in keeping costs as low as possible while getting to where you need to be expediently.

Also, since you have to call for these fares, it’s best to have the airline numbers on hand and be prepared to be on the phone for awhile just to speak to a rep and sort out the options.


Here are some links to get you started:

American Airlines 800-433-7300

Delta/NW Airlines  800-221-1212

United Airlines 800-864-8331


I wish I had thought to do this months before trying to figure it out at 4 am after a very sleepless night. I hope you learn from my mistake.