On my annual thanksgiving trip abroad this past year (this time to Paris), I had maybe one of the most nightmarish travel experiences of my life. It’s a long story for another post, but the short version is that about 3 hours into my flight, Air France decided that we had to go all the way back to D.C. and land the plane because of a “mechanical issue.” This also meant I got about 3 hours to ruminate about what a pain in the ass the next 24 hours would be. After landing and eventually de-boarding, only two agents worked in the customer service area to deal with a plane full of people. Fucking awesome.
What to do….aha! I have Chase Sapphire Reserve and their excellent travel insurance, I thought to myself. I’ve used this service once before, so I knew the ropes. I decided to skip the line and call a Lyft back to my house to sleep until my next flight (they announced that another plane would not be ready for 24 hours).
For those of you that aren’t familiar with the service, some premium travel credit cards offer “Trip Delay Reimbursement” (their form of travel insurance), which basically goes like this:
“If your common carrier travel is delayed more than 6 hours or requires an overnight stay, you and your family are covered for unreimbursed expenses, such as meals and lodging, up to $500 per ticket.”
For more information, here are Chase’s guidelines (https://www.chase.com/card-benefits/benefit-details/sapphire-trip-delay-reimbursement).
Fast forward a bit, I eventually made it to Paris and had a great trip. I submitted my claim for the Lyft to and from the airport and a sandwich the next day. I also ended up getting a check from Air France for ~$650, so alls well that ends well, right?
Not quite. Chase denied my claim, saying that it didn’t qualify for this claim since I get money from an airline. Wait for a second, though, I’m not trying to be greedy, but the money I got from Air France was because of an EU regulation and also for the shitty ass experience I just went through. Not for the Lyft and lunch line items.
I know this may come off as just complaining, and it probably is. But whatever, I think it’s an important distinction. The reason we pay for these “premium” credit cards is in large part to make our travel experience a bit more comfortable, especially in dire circumstances. So what’s the point in having the “perk” if I’m not able to skip a line to catch a few Zs before having to do the whole damn thing over again?
I even appealed the case, and months later, I haven’t heard a word from them. I think the most frustrating part is that I’ve used this perk in the same manner before. So at best the claim experience is inconsistent and unreliable; not exactly a great feeling when bad shit happens on the road.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s (and ostensibly all “premium” travel cards) Trip Cancellation benefits and travel insurance perks are flaky and inconsistent at best. Hopefully, you never need it, but use it with caution and low expectations if you do.