My wife and I went on vacation to Lucca, Italy in May. Being typical frequent flyer junkies, we went there by the roundabout route of IAD-FRA on UA Economy and them FRA-IST(Istanbul)-PSA (Pisa) on Turkish Business Class. I wanted to have my wife experience the Turkish Lounge in Istanbul which I think is one of the best in the world. You can read about it in my previous post. Note that they have since moved the IST airport to a new location.
Anyway, back to our tale. We traveled from FRA to IST , spent ten hours in the lounge, then flew IST-PSA. When we arrived in Pisa, my wife’s bag came out, but not mine. At PSA, they have a generic baggage claim office for all airlines. When I checked with them, they inquired and said my bag was still in IST. Apparently ten hours was not enough time to transfer my bag! I’m sure that was the problem actually. They probably stuck our two bags somewhere since they had ten hours and forgot my bag. At least my wife got her bag. If one of us had to have no clothes or toiletries, it was far better to be me rather than my wife.
With only the clothes on my back, we grabbed the train and headed toward our AirBnB. I called the baggage office later and they said they thought the bag would be on the next TK plane in two days. I said that flight flies everyday, why couldn’t it be on the flight tomorrow. They gave me the European salute, which we call a shrug, and I knew I wasn’t going to get a better answer. My spirits were lifted however as I remembered one of the protections I had from the Chase UA Club Card. I had baggage delay insurance which would pay up to $100/day of expenses – max $300.
Since the next day was Sunday, I was kind of out of luck as most shops are closed in Italy. I also was forced to start growing a beard which was a new experience for me. Went shopping the next day and quickly spent over $200 on underwear and new clothes. The next day I picked up a set of sneakers while in Pisa. We stayed in Lucca an extra day since the Italian ATC went on a one day strike. The baggage office confirmed that the bag would arrive the next day – about an hour after we would fly out! Once we got to our next destination of Copenhagen, the office said they had the bag and wanted to know where to send it. I was afraid of having the bag chase us around Europe so I told them just to send it to our home in the U.S.
After arriving home, I started to process of claiming the $300 allowance. The call to Chase referred me to a website to start the claim. Seemed pretty straight forward.
Thus started the nightmare. I sent in the obvious documents, would wait about two weeks and then get sent an automated message saying that my application was incomplete without telling me what was still needed. Then I had to call in to Chase and they would read their notes and tell me to send in something else. Initially, this was no big deal, but then they would ask for things I didn’t have such as a note from the company that delivered the bag that proved the bag was delivered. I also had to go make a claim with TK even though I had read they almost never pay such things. That took like a month to get the denial. The Chase agent would make a note when I called every time, they would think about it for two weeks and then I would get the same message. I submitted a total of 13 documents.
Finally, the ran out of excuses and said they would pay. I had probably called 6-7 times and this took three months. One wonders if they limit their payouts by just wearing people out!
So the conclusion is that this is a real benefit, but be prepared to work for it…