On a recent family trip, we ran into the prospect of being stranded overnight in Dallas. A bought of fog in the Bay Area led to a too-close connection on the final leg of our trip.
In the past I made sure that everything travel related was charged to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (more info), to take advantage of all of the different travel insurances and reimbursements. I hoped that I would never have to use them, however, on this particular vacation, the weather decided to interfere with my travel plans.
In this case, I had to decide whether or not to spend the night in Dallas, or plan an alternate route home that night. I wasn’t sure if Chase’s travel protection would cover my DIY diversion.
Chase came through for me in the end, but not as easily as I would have expected.
Chase Travel Delay Reimbursement
Chase’s travel delay protection kicks in when the following conditions apply:
- Reimbursement for expenses such as meals and lodging if your common carrier (airline, bus, cruise ship, train) travel is delayed more than 12 hours or requires an overnight stay.
- The claim must exceed any expenses paid by any other party, including applicable travel insurance.
- Trip must be away from the cardholder’s city of residence and be less than 365 days in length
- The fare has been purchased with an eligible Chase card or with rewards earned on an eligible Chase card.
Had I stayed overnight in Dallas, it would be clear that 100-percent of my lodging and meals would be covered. However, since I decided to take a flight to another airport and rent a car my trip reimbursement insurance might become questionable. Therefore, I contacted Chase on March 24 to see their initial thoughts about the situation and the representative I spoke with encouraged me to file a claim with their department to have our $111.73 rental car and gas expenses reimbursed.
When my family and I took an 11 night trip earlier this year to Hawaii, we had flights booked through Memphis (our city of residence), Chicago, San Francisco, Kona, and Dallas airports. Apparently, five airports were not enough, and on the last night of our trip, we found ourselves sitting in the Dallas airport, on weather delays, with a 3-year-old and no flight home to Memphis.
On the morning of March 20, we were scheduled to fly out of San Francisco on Southwest at 11:10 a.m. The flight was scheduled to arrive in Dallas at 4:40, from there we were going to take a connecting flight at six that was going to get us home to Memphis.
My wife and son’s flight were booked using 11,052 Southwest Rapid Rewards points and $5.60 each. My flight, due to my wife’s companion pass, only cost us the 9/11 fee of $5.60. Even though I only had to pay $16.80 out of pocket for all three flights I made sure that all of the 9/11 fees were charged to my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This was enough to provide protection for everyone on our itinerary.
Our first flight that morning was being delayed by 93 minutes due to severe fog and rain in the Bay Area. Sitting at the gate, Southwest informed us that while it would be close, we should make our connecting flight. Midair we discovered that two planes were leaving Dallas bound for Memphis. Our flight, departing at 6:00 p.m. and the last flight of the night at 6:10 p.m. We had wheels on the ground at 6:01 p.m. and while we made it to a customer service desk by 6:09 we found out the bad news that both flights had departed for Memphis as scheduled.
The next available flight was at 11 a.m. next day.
A Creative Solution
A few months prior I had started a new teaching job and prearranged time off work to make this trip happen. This meant I was already missing two days with my students and spending the night in Dallas would mean losing another full day. This factor, plus the fact that my son was homesick after being gone 11 nights, led to me continue to talk with the customer service from Southwest. The goal: find an alternate way home.
Fortunately for us, there was a 7:25 p.m. flight that would take us to Nashville. After landing, we still needed to make the three and a half hour drive home after landing.
After making a few phone calls, I was able to book a rental car, and we hopped on a flight to the “wrong” airport. We finally arrived in Memphis around 1 a.m., almost six hours after our intended arrival time.
What Did the Process Require?
For the initial claim, I provided proof of the initial itinerary, the updated itinerary, and the emailed receipts from Southwest for the flights. I also submitted the rental car and gas receipts at this time. I then waited until May 3, when Chase responded stating there was not enough proof of a delay.
A verification letter from the carrier about the weather-related delay was needed. I took to Twitter and submitted proof of that conversation to Chase on May 12 along with the email that was sent by Southwest. Chase responded to my claim a few days later, this time stating that the email and twitter conversation screenshots were not sufficient and would require a letter on official company letterhead.
After one more conversation with Southwest, I obtained that letter and uploaded it to the Chase Eclaims portal.
Finalizing the Details: Do I Have a Son or Not???
Chase took another week to respond to the claim this time asking for proof that the tickets were paid for on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. After uploading statements that showed the 3x$5.60 charges from my online Chase statements. At this point, I began worrying as I was approaching the 100-day window from the date of the incident, so I made several phone calls to Chase urging them to provide an answer before June 28. Around the middle of June I finally heard back, and this time I needed to provide proof that my wife and son were related to me!
Once again, I was back to the Eclaims Portal uploading a marriage certificate and a birth certificate. Finally, on July 5, 103 days after submission and 107 days after my flight Chase sent me a letter stating the claim was approved!
Interestingly, I just received an email Sept. 18 asking about my experience during the trip reimbursement process. Even though I am satisfied to have the expenses reimbursed, it required a significant effort (and ridiculous documentation!) to resolve. In the survey, I did not hesitate to let Chase know how I felt.
Overall, this process was long and tedious for the small sum of money, but it did shed some light on how the process works. Perhaps this was due to the unique nature of the claim. However, because Chase went out of the way to come through for me I will continue to use my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book all travel related expenses.