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Baggage Delay Protection Put To The Test

March 9, 2011
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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Last weekend was a nightmare. JetBlue took me to Park City, but dropped my skis off in Chicago.

JetBlue was kind enough to offer $25 per day in compensation for necessary purchases while I awaited the return of my bag, which covered new ski socks and a fraction of a ski rental. They also threw in a $30 voucher.

The silver lining was that I purchased the airline ticket with a Continental Airlines OnePass® Plus Card, which comes with “Baggage Delay Protection”, so I thought I’d try out the rather obscure insurance policy.

Quoting straight from the Continental Airlines OnePass® Plus Card brochure:

Baggage Delay – if you experience a baggage delay, you can be reimbursed up to $100 per day, with a maximum of up to $300 when your bags are delayed more than 18 hours.

The real question in my mind was, would I be reimbursed if I bought new ski pants, and rented skis? Every airline gives you some sort of compensation for delayed baggage, so the insurance is pretty useless if it’s limited to toothpaste. After all, how much toothpaste can you really buy in excess of the $25 JetBlue credit?

Here’s what actually happened

I called Chase on Saturday at 4PM, about 18 hours after my flight landed – the 18 hours qualified me for baggage delay insurance.  After a 40 minute wait, I was instructed to call Chubb, the insurance company underwriting “Baggage Delay Protection” on the Continental Airlines OnePass® Plus Card. The Chubb representative notified me  that only “essential” items like toothpaste are covered, and since it was the weekend, there was nobody who could authorize purchasing new ski pants or renting skis, on a ski trip, as an “essential item”.

Therefore, the insurance was really only worth the value of toothpaste and toiletries to me, unless the insurance company was willing to pre-authorize something that is only borderline essential. Of course, I had the right to risk buying something that would not be reimbursed.

» MORE: 7 Ways your credit card could save you money on holiday travel

So is the insurance really worth anything?

This really begs the question – what’s the point? It really only allows you to buy things like toothpaste and a toothbrush, 18 hours after your bags are delayed, and in excess of whatever voucher you receive from the airline. Anything else requires the authorization of an agent that only works during normal business hours. And though the protection may sound substantial at $100 per day, you run the risk of being denied a reimbursement if Chubb thinks you are pushing the definition of “essential” too far.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a slightly more attractive flight/baggage delay protection policy. Instead of waiting 18 hours, you are covered after a 6 hour baggage delay. Also, it covers up to $1,000 of costs for “essential clothing and sundry items”. However, I believe you might run into the same kind of problems as with the Continental Airlines OnePass® Plus Card.

Please share your experiences with us!