Sympathy Advice for Friends

Written by W. Blake Gray

Advice on how to successfully enlist your friends to help you.When you need to fly somewhere in a hurry because your relatives are sick or dying, turn to others for assistance.

Whenever you have a crisis, friends say, "Let me know what I can do." Well, we've got a job for them — booking your flight.

Airlines offer bereavement fares, sometimes called sympathy fares, to the immediate family in the case of a sudden death or grave illness. However, these fares are not always the cheapest way to go.

Airline policies differ, but most offer about a 50 percent discount off their full coach fare. That's still likely to be significantly higher than discount fares available online or from a travel agent. The problem is that most discount fares require an advance purchase, and you want to get there as soon as possible.

Moreover, if your mother just had a stroke, you're not going to want to call around. You're going to want to get on the plane as soon as possible, regardless of expense.

This is where farming out the job to a friend can save you time, money, and — most important when you're under stress — hassle.

If you're the friend in this situation, check online first to see what airlines fly the route, and what fares are on offer. Next, call those airlines to see what sympathy fare you can get. If it's not satisfactory, try calling a travel agent and explaining the situation.

It's best to do this out of earshot of the bereaved, in case prolonged negotiation is necessary.

Airlines will require proof, such as a certificate from the hospital or a death certificate, another detail you should let someone else worry about. This is what friends are for.

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