I drove to Nebraska last Thursday afternoon for a funeral on Friday. Airfares to Lincoln and Omaha with a one-day advance were worse than expected--about $1,100 each. I didn't bother checking bereavement rates since most airlines only discount 5-15% if at all for bereavement. According to experts in a USA Today article last year, most consumers can find lower fares on Priceline than via an airline's bereavement discount.

What surprised me is that some hotels offer bereavement discounts too. I've never asked for one until now. I phoned the front desk at two hotels, said that I would be in town for a funeral, and asked if they might have a room under $100.

I called the front desk instead of the 800 number because I've always been told that local desk agents offer a more competitive price. At a Marriott hotel that I've stayed at before I've paid $99 to $125 per night before tax. So I was genuinely thankful to be given a rate of $74 per night after mentioning being in town for a funeral. I don't think it hurt that it was a Thursday night in winter in Nebraska.

In previous stays at a Best Western Plus in Nebraska, I've paid $95 to $110 per night. After I mentioned the funeral, the desk clerk that the best she could do was $99. I thanked her for the rate and after a pause she said that she could give me the government rate of $84 a night. (I am not a govt. employee.)

I don't know if I'd have been turned down if the funeral were in high season in Orlando or San Francisco, but the next time you're heading to an out-of-town funeral, ask for a bereavement rate at the hotel. It will probably save you more money than bereavement airfare.

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