STS Quarterly Issue 14: June 2021
5 Things Every Transfer Family Should Be Told
Not Just Anyone Can Do This
The family may be tempted to go with the lowest price. Do they know that not all death care providers have TSA Known Shipper status? Do they know that’s required?
The United States Transportation Security Administration requires that entities who transport human remains via air be approved as “Known Shippers.” A family who thinks the only difference between providers is the price needs to understand why you’re experts, and TSA clearance matters.
Grandma Will Be “Cargo”
It may sound silly to you, but somebody who has never shipped human remains might not know that their loved one will travel in the cargo area. You don’t want to find out the day of the flight that they’re furious to have their loved one sharing space with suitcases and animals.
Be up front with them about where the body will go from the removal to the final disposition and what kind of container it will be in during the transit process.
Right to Escort Their Loved One
Survivors may wish to escort their loved one along the journey to their final resting place. That’s their right, and you should help them understand that you support them.
You also should help them understand there could be some unpleasant complications that could arise such as weather delays, flight cancellations, or becoming separated from their loved one’s remains.
Ensure they understand that you or another funeral home may be required to handle and drive the remains during ground transit as a matter or best practice or even of law. Help them find a way to feel involved while understanding the potential complications and without jeopardizing any logistics.
Embalming and Preservation
Some states, carriers, or nations may require embalming or other preservation measures that don’t align with the family’s wishes, budget, or even their religious beliefs. Ensure the family is clear on any requirements for refrigeration, ice packs, embalming, sealed containers, and any other safety and preservation measures.
This may include contacting religious officials to guide you in allowable preservation matters that won’t violate religious custom and to assure the family that things are right in the eyes of their faith.
Your Cost May Vary
If you don’t charge a flat rate for transfer but instead you tend to bill the family based on what your costs were for that particular shipment, be clear with them up front about the factors that may alter the price.
Stay in communication about fluctuations, especially if they may lead to a higher-than-expected price.