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Sunday, February 27, 2005; Page P01


Bereavement Fares: Out?

After simplifying its fare structure, including reducing last-minute ticket prices, Delta Airlines took simplification one step further: It ended the sale of so-called bereavement fares for flights within the 48 contiguous states. Now, close relatives of the dying and the dead who want to fly Delta will have to accept the airline's new and reduced fares available to anyone.

Delta's decision is something of a trend: Air Canada ended bereavement fares this month, and US Airways has been phasing them out to destinations that have simplified fare structures -- meaning in part that last-minute fares aren't drastically higher than advance-purchase fares. US Airways has simplified fares -- and thus doesn't offer bereavement fares -- on about a third of its flights, said spokeswoman Amy Kudwa.

By ending or reducing bereavement fares in domestic markets, major carriers are copying discount carriers, most of which have never offered bereavement fares.

In a way, the trend toward disappearing bereavement fares is no great loss: Typically, bereavement fares are half off the highest last-minute fares. But last-minute fares are generally so outrageous that half off is still more than what you generally can find by shopping around, even last minute.

It's understandable, of course, that a grieving person might be unwilling or unable to shop around. One option is to call a travel agent who will shop for you, for a fee that typically runs about $50 per ticket. Meanwhile, four of the big six U.S. carriers -- American, United, Northwest and Continental -- intend to stick with their old formulas for bereavement fares. Just don't count on them being the best you can do.


Bon Voyages

Cruise lines are getting ever more clever about tailoring cruises to pop culture trends and pricing them across all budget lines. Several examples that have crossed CoGo's desk recently:

Sail with the Southwest Airlines crew famed for their appearances in the hit A&E reality series "Airline." An episode will be filmed during the four-day Carnival cruise that leaves from Los Angeles May 9 and tours Baja California. Prices start at $329. Details: 866-321-8408.

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