automatic compensation for flight delays when you're stuck in the airport

As I write this it’s barely December, but tens of thousands of people have been hit with flight delays because of winter storms. It was a rough Thanksgiving weekend in the USA. With climate change continuing to wreak havoc worldwide and the country’s infrastructure years behind on improvement funding, who knows what’s in store for the next few months.

And that’s just in the states. We’ve had protests and strike shutdowns in multiple airports around the world this year, including Quito, Santiago, and Mexico City in Latin America.

There are a few ways to make it easier on yourself though if your number comes up and your flight gets delayed. We’ve talked before about the importance of having travel insurance to make sure you’re covered not just for medical issues, but also lost bags or flight problems. After all, if you miss a cruise or a tour because a flight didn’t arrive when it was supposed to, there’s a lot more at stake than inconvenience.

Automatic Flight Delay Compensation

Our travel insurance partner Allianz is ready to ease your pain while the problems are still going on. If you have their app on your phone and you have input your flight info, they’ll automatically know you are experiencing flight delay problems. Without you having to lift a finger, they’ll send you a notification that you’ve got cash on the way to pay for meals, lounge access (if you don’t have status or Priority Pass), or whatever else will make you more comfortable while you’re waiting.

With SmartBenefits on your phone, you can get flight delay compensation while the delay is happening.Depending on which policy you have, a delay of three to five hours will trigger an automatic flight delay compensation action by Allianz. Their system recognizes that your flight has been delayed and that causes the program to file a claim on your behalf automatically and send some money your way via their SmartBenefits program.

You can typically receive fixed payments of $100 per insured person impacted by the delay. It can go onto your debit card, which is immediate, you can get a direct deposit into your bank account, which usually takes a day or two, or you can receive a check in the mail you can then use to pay the credit card bill you ran up.

Remember, if your flight gets delayed because of weather problems, which is the most common cause, then you can surely expect to get jack squat from the airline. All they’re obligated to do is get you onto another flight in the future. But when delays start getting stacked up, it could be four, five, ten flights into the future when they’ve got enough seats to accommodate everyone. Meanwhile, you’re on your own for any expenses.

With the TravelSmart app from Allianz, you at least know if you put $100 on your credit card to feed yourself or the family, you’ve got reimbursement coming as soon as the transfer goes through.

This proactive customer service program has been running since July of 2018, so they’ve had time to work out any early kinks and you can expect your reimbursement to happen like magic.

When You Also Need a Hotel

But wait,” you may be thinking, “if there are two of us, meals and a hotel are going to cost a lot more than $100 each if we have to stay overnight!”

Well, this may be true, especially if you are delayed somewhere like New York or San Francisco. Or when the area hotels start jacking up prices as the delays stack up, something I experienced first hand at JFK once.

No worries though, you just have to hold onto your receipts and file a claim for whatever is above and beyond that amount, up to the maximum specified by your policy. The difference here is, you’ve got at least some of it coming your way immediately, just based on bits and bytes of code flowing around without your actions.

Note that you’ll also have to file a claim if the worse scenario happens: your flight gets completely cancelled. It’s a no-receipts claim for the $100 if that’s all you need, but it’s not done proactively. These take a bit longer to process. The same goes for the annual plans: only the single-trip ones will receive the automatic payments, so you have to file a claim if you’re on one of those.

What About Baggage Delays?

Bad things can happen to checked luggage even without delays, but if you get put onto a flight leaving six or eight hours later, there’s more chance of a mishap. This can be trouble on the other end if you’re supposed to connect with a cruise or a tour that’s immediately leaving the arrival city.

Fortunately, the SmartBenefits program also includes optional no-receipts claims for covered baggage delays. You just need to submit proof of a covered baggage delay to receive a fixed inconvenience payment that’s usually $100 per insured person, per day. That should be plenty for a toothbrush and a change of clothes. I wish I had been able to use this option Turkish Air lost my bag a few years back. I got it 24 hours later, but by then I had spent money on a sun hat, sunscreen, underwear, and a few other items.

Of course if you have to purchase a whole week’s worth of items because your baggage was delayed, you can still submit receipts to claim up to the maximum benefit limit of your plan.

“Don’t have the free TravelSmart app? Download it at that link after you have purchased your ideal policy. It lets you access your travel insurance policy, check your flight information, translate medical needs into foreign languages, find the nearest pre-screened medical facility, call local emergency numbers, and contact the 24-hour emergency hotline when you need help. Plus, of course, it’s your window to automatic flight delay compensation.

This post is sponsored by Luxury Latin America’s travel insurance partner Allianz Global Assistance (AGA Service Company). We have received financial compensation for sharing these benefits with our readers, but all thoughts and opinions are our own.