Death doesn't come with a travel discount.
February 8, 2015 5:47 AM   Subscribe

I need to fly from Seattle to Indiana this weekend for my grandmother's funeral. Are there options I may not know about for doing this at all affordably?

I've checked Priceline and Orbitz and the other obvious places. I'm wondering if there is anything I am missing. I will go one way or another, but I live in Seattle and make $15/hr, and I would really like to avoid having to spend two weeks' wages on this if possible. I also can't be terribly flexible on dates, because I am ill-paid but indispensable at work (best of neither world). People who travel-- please advise?
posted by Because to Travel & Transportation (24 answers total)
Look into bereavement fares.
posted by Ms. Next at 5:52 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

More information about bereavement fares and other options can be found here.
posted by Ms. Next at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2015

Bereavement fares are usually discounted from the most expensive fare available, so you''ll probably get a better deal from Priceline, etc., but worth a call to the airline to see. Do you have any friends or family who may have frequent flier miles they'd be willing to donate? That's how I got to my grandfather's funeral when I was in similar circumstances. I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by goggie at 5:57 AM on February 8, 2015 [6 favorites]

Bereavement fares exist but they are a joke, pretty much. Call the airline and talk to them, but be prepared to still pay way more than you feel like is reasonable.
posted by something something at 5:58 AM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

Can you ask other family members if they can help you with this expense? Frequent flyer miles (suggested by goggie above) would be ideal, but if that's not available it may be a good time for cash assistance. When my grandmother died with a very modest estate, her children agreed she would have wanted all her grandchildren to come home for the funeral, and used her assets to pay for an air ticket for my most distant cousin, who was an adult who could have even paid for the ticket.
posted by Snerd at 6:07 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss.

Last minute airfare is expensive. Bereavement fares suck.

This is when you ask for help. Did your grandmother leave some money that could be used to pay your airfare? Do your relatives have miles they can use for you? Can you get a loan through the credit union?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:21 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

What part of Indiana? It's big.
posted by bq at 6:23 AM on February 8, 2015

Are you going to Indianapolis itself, or will you have to rent a car? If you're traveling by car, too, would either Chicago, Cincinnati, or Louisville make sense?
posted by missmary6 at 6:28 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: bq and missmary6: It's in Bloomington, which is only about an hour south of Indianapolis, but a lot further from the other places. Still might make sense, though. I will look into it.

(My family has offered to help me out financially, but the ones who have offered aren't exactly rolling in cash either, and I'm not sure how much assistance they'll end up being able to give. I will happily accept however much help they can give me, but I don't want to presume too much and leave them in hardship as well.)
posted by Because at 6:34 AM on February 8, 2015

FWIW, flights in and out of Indiana tend to lean on the more expensive side of the curve, mostly because Indiana isn't exactly a destination a lot of people want to fly to (save for Colts home games and a couple of auto races.) And, Indianapolis is pretty much the only airport in Indiana for cross-country connections.

Look into flying into Louisville or Cincinnati (and then driving a rental to Bloomington) as possible alternatives. Also, look into flying into Chicago and then hopping onto a commuter flight from Chicago to Indy. It's a lot planning, but you might be able to save some bucks.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:58 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Is the funeral on Sunday? The cheapest thing I've found is US Airways flt 1146. SEA --> IND. Leaving Sat. 11:28am, layover in Dallas(!), arr IND 9:03pm. You'd be there all day for the funeral on Sunday. Compromise is leaving Monday 2/16 on US Airways 4267, but at 6:04am, and with a layover in Chi, back in SEA at 11am. You'd be exhausted, but you could be at work by noon and put in a couple extra hours. and NO ONE is indispensable, and you're trying to attend a funeral! Price is $547.
posted by missmary6 at 7:01 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

My family lives an hour north of Bloomington and I usually fly into Chicago and take the Amtrak down to Crawfordsville (you could also take it a few stops further to Indianapolis but it would probably end up taking longer). It's a huge pita and adds a bunch of time to the trip, but it's usually a lot cheaper (a lot of the time I compromise and do it one way). That said, if this is going to be a super stressful trip for you already, I wouldn't do this to yourself.

I'm sorry about your grandmother.
posted by geegollygosh at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry for your loss, and went through something like this recently with the unexpected death of my father. The long and short of it is that bereavement fares are a joke, you may not be eligible, the airline will make it as difficult as possible for you to get one of those fares, and it's unlikely you will get a better price than you would get from an online discounter anyway. Adding to the misery is the fact that airlines that fly into low volume captive markets charge very high prices (it's less expensive to fly to Europe sometimes than it is to fly to visit my in-laws in Manhattan, KS).

I don't want to be the bearer of bad news, but this is just one of those things. My guess is that, if you really feel that you need to be there, you're going to have to suck it up and shell out the money if you don't have the time and/or fortitude to do some kind of convoluted planes, trains, busses and automobiles thing.
posted by slkinsey at 7:35 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

Sorry for your loss. When my grandmother died I was in my early twenties and couldn't afford to fly 2000 miles back for the funeral...I did take a day off work and go to a cemetery near me to remember her.

I'm seeing flights to Chicago for a little over $300 RT, and to IND for $422 (though not sure of your exact dates, would help if you could share that). Priceline also has "name your own price" fares, though you could end up with some terrible layovers/long travel times.
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:47 AM on February 8, 2015

Do you have friends who travel frequently? If so, it's worth posting a quick and easy request on Facebook to see if anyone has extra miles. I've given airline points/miles to friends in similar situations.
posted by barnone at 7:57 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'm unclear on the actual dates. You need to go this weekend, like today? Or next weekend, 13 February–15 February?

If you want to expand your search as much as possible, you can use the Matrix Airfare Search from ITA Software, search from SEA-IND, but also select the "Nearby" link to look for airports within, say, 200 miles. It looks like the cheapest flights might be from Vancouver, BC to Chicago. Which adds hellish extra drives and several extra international border crossings to the trip. You can find other options that are less hellish but still cost significantly less than $1200.
posted by grouse at 9:03 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

We just flew on a bereavement fare on Delta. Delta gave us 10% off with proof of death (which wasn't overly burdensome). It was less expensive than anything else we found.
posted by slidell at 9:37 AM on February 8, 2015

Seconding Delta; when I last looked into this, they had the best options for bereavement fares.
posted by KathrynT at 10:24 AM on February 8, 2015

One reason to consider Chicago is that Alaska Airlines has a daily nonstops from Seattle and Portland to Chicago. It's a 3 hour or so drive from Chicago to Bloomington, maybe 4 depending on weather and Chicago traffic. It's a one hour drive from Indianapolis (airport, which is south) to Bloomington. But there is at least one bus service which does run a Chicago to Bloomington route daily. (IU people make the trip all the time.)

I just checked Alaska's website and am seeing regular coach fares for Seattle to Chicago for as low as $240 each way if you could fly midweek, higher as you approach the weekend. Some of those take you to PDX first. Alaska still offers bereavement fares (many airlines don't), and by the way I've always found Alaska people to be more humane and understanding than the average airline, over many years of being a regular on their flights. I'd call Alaska airlines and explain your situation. Especially if you can leave earlier in the week you might get a deal.

And by the way as a Seattleite -- make sure you mention that when you call right away -- you may get even more personalized service.
posted by spitbull at 12:14 PM on February 8, 2015

I don't know if this is something you'll want to do but Megabus runs into Indy downtown from both Chicago and Louisville. You'd still have to find someway to Bloomington (airport shuttle, rental, someone willing to pick you up) but it's cheap.

posted by stray thoughts at 3:10 PM on February 8, 2015

If you do go into Chicago, it's "GoBus" that runs a direct shuttle to Bloomington.
posted by spitbull at 6:16 PM on February 8, 2015

Kind of crazy and a complete long shot but put up some posts on your FB groups and maybe even CL asking if anyone has miles that are about to expire that they would be willing to donate. You never know.
posted by vignettist at 7:20 PM on February 8, 2015

Also, this isn't a sure thing, but if you can rent a car through Priceline you can get some amazing deals. I have literally paid as little as $9 a day.
posted by bq at 9:40 AM on February 9, 2015

I recently had to fly to Indiana for a funeral in the Bloomington area. For some odd reason flying to Indy was WAY more expensive than anywhere else. Since you were driving anyways, you can look into other nearby airports, Evansville is 2.5 hours away, Chicago is ~5 and is terrible this time of year to fly into, Cinncinati isn't too far, you can also try some of the other Ohio airports. There are some airlines that do bereavement fares, many that don't. Sometimes the bereavement fares let you change your flight details for free if necessary, but not always. I've not had any luck with Delta and bereavment fares, but apparently others have done better there.
posted by katers890 at 1:48 PM on February 9, 2015

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