Here’s another example of how I was able to get Chase to reimburse me for $360 in hotels and meals when my flight was delayed overnight.
Here are the key data-points from this scenario:
- The fare was only partially charged to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card, with the balance paid with Delta eCertificates.
- The claim was paid in full, even though the reimbursement exceeded what I charged to my card.
- A supervisor had to write the military excuse since the first gate agent was initially unfamiliar with what it was.
- I declined a free voucher for a hotel outside the airport, preferring to stay at the in-terminal DTW Westin.
- I was reimbursed for a room that was a few categories above the lowest standard rate, since my total claim was still less than $500.
A lovely week in Indianapolis, followed by a less-than-lovely delay in Detroit.
Unlike in the previous example, this delay didn’t play out nearly as quickly. I was stuck in limbo at the airport for several hours before finally confirming that I’d be required to stay overnight and get on with my life.
After an on-time arrival in Detroit, I discovered that the outbound aircraft to San Francisco was dealing with a mysterious “maintenance issue.” What this issue was exactly, I don’t know.
In any case, the 8:00pm scheduled departure came and went, and I was left sipping on the dishwasher discharge that is Budweiser beer at the DTW SkyClub. At 11pm, a lounge agent recommended that I head on over to the gate for a “special announcement.” Never a good sign, I thought.
Sure enough, when I arrived at the gate, the gate agent was announcing to a very disgruntled group of passengers that, while the mechanical issue had been resolved, the flight’s crew had “timed out” (reached the maximum number of flight hours for the day). Everyone would be stranded in Detroit overnight.
I’d lived through several of these flight delays, so I knew the drill. First up, a military excuse, or official statement from the airline outlining the reasons for delay.
I’ve learned that not every airline employee is familiar with how these work, so it might take a few tries or a maybe a call to a supervisor to get one written. That’s one happened here, and it took a bit longer than usual to get this military waiver:
The gate agent didn’t register my request to put down the specific reason my flight was delayed – or she might’ve just been distracted by the growing mob which seemed dangerously close to becoming riotous. Either way, the statement was a bit vaguer than I liked, but I figured it was better than nothing. I could always get a more detailed statement the next morning.
She also offered a voucher at a nearby Holiday Inn, which I politely declined. The Detroit airport has an in-terminal Westin, a short walk across the terminal. Besides, I had already spent 6 hours at airports that day – what was 12 more?
Even when a airline does offer hotel/meal vouchers, I’ve really appreciated the flexibility of being able to choose my own accommodations and meals during delays. It’s the little things like that – and being able to duck out before the gate devolves into complete chaos – that’ve kept me sane through what would otherwise be real travel horror stories.
The Westin DTW is expensive for Detroit. Rates typically start at around $275 per night, with prices soaring when the hotel receives an influx of guests from flight mishaps.
I did opt for an Executive Club Room, because why not. I’d save Chase some money on breakfast and ground transportation, and the room was only marginally pricier than the lowest available rate.
Again, no photos of the hotel here either. It was a typical run-of-the-mill Westin, with views of an indoor courtyard or tarmac outside. I’d say the biggest benefit of staying at this hotel was saving a few hours of traveling to and from the airport that evening and following morning. After a long day of travel, that extra time can go a long way.
Besides my room charge, my only other expense during this delay was for a Big Mac, because ‘murica:
As I mentioned before, my first military excuse didn’t have a specific “covered” reason for my delay. So my first step the next morning was to get a slightly more nuanced note from a SkyClub agent:
Again, I have no idea if this is necessary, but I always like to err on the side of providing too much information than not enough.
From there, the claims process proceeded as usual. Call, get the form emailed to me, send it back with all the attachments:
I’ve gotten some comments on how weird I sound in these emails. Yes, I come across as a robotic lawyer (bleep blorp bloop), but I try to make it as easy as possible for the claims adjuster to quickly scan my email, see that I hit all the key requirements for approval using terms from my benefits agreement, check my attachments, and be on his or her way.
In addition to the usual information (original flight receipt, credit card statement showing charge, boarding passes, expense receipts, and claim form), I made sure to include the eCertificates I used to pay for a portion of the fare. I used a SkyClub printer to fill out the claim form by hand, scanned everything using my CamScanner app, and sent everything back by email before I boarded my last segment home.
Like always, the claims process was seamless. In fact, this time I received a check in the mail less than a week after I landed back home. Everything was reimbursed in full, even though my claim exceeded the actual amount charged to my Sapphire Preferred card.
I haven’t had a chance to experience Citi trip delay protection, but with most of my spend going to my Prestige card over the next few months, I’m sure I’ll have a new story to share soon. 🙂