I am standing in line in a small baggage claim office with seven or eight fellow passengers who also waited in vain for luggage that never arrived. We are all wondering how so many bags could get lost on such a short, direct flight. (It turns out, the bags never made it onto the plane in the first place.) One by one, we approach the desk and give the patient airline lady a description of our bags and their contents, local contact numbers and delivery instructions. She assures everyone will be reunited with their luggage sometime the following afternoon.
So why am I smiling?
This was my first experience with Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s AirCare, a sort of travel insurance intended to take some of the pain out of flight delays, cancellations, missed connections and lost luggage. In short, a $25 policy will pay you when things go awry, and help you get back on track. Flight delays of two hours or more get you $50; enough to buy a day-pass into most airline lounges, or a meal and cocktail while you wait. Miss a connection due to said flight delay and they jump into action to find same-day travel for you on any airline, pay the flight change costs (up to the policy limit), and credit you $250.
If your plane is stuck on the tarmac for two hours or more, and you have AirCare looking out for you, that’s a $1,000 pay out. When your bags are lost – not just delayed – that’s a cool grand also. Even better, the team at Berkshire Hathaway will take care of all of the tracking for you; just use your smartphone to snap a photo of your boarding pass or baggage claim ticket, and you are set.
My delayed bag paid for the policy and then some. Since my bag was never put on the plane, and it was the last flight out, it was delivered the following day. That worked out to about 16 hours, and necessitated a PJ run. (Drugstore jammies, by the way, are overpriced and totally not stylish.) For my “pain and suffering,” the policy paid out $500. At this point I’m thinking one thing:
What I like best, though, is easy use. The entire process can be driven from your smartphone, from getting a quote to making a claim. I think the real value, though, is the travel assistance, which they call AirCare concierge service. In addition to “Route Repair” when you miss a connection, they can help with car rentals or hotel reservations if needed. They’re available via phone, text, app, and social media. Because they are constantly monitoring flights, they can alert you to changes, tight connections, and other issues. At least, that’s the idea; I haven’t had the opportunity to really test it out yet, but it seems entirely plausible and very promising. (Update: On a recent flight, BHTP advised us of a delay and gate change before we got the update from the airline, making us even more sold on the service.)
The Road to Riches?
Call me fatally optimistic. I think this is the best thing going and figure, given my track record, I’ll be able to fund my travel indefinitely with AirCare! Over the past few months of travelling – twelve flights recently – I’ve had four qualifying delays, a missed connection, and two cases of errant luggage that took more than 12 hours to be delivered. That’s $1450 in claims against $300 in premiums; a pretty hefty rate of return. Given the number of flights I take through Dallas and Chicago, where weather seems to be an issue any time of year, I could probably double my money on almost every trip!
Realistically, I’ll admit that’s not guaranteed and probably not the best investment strategy. However, at just $25 per trip, it’s a low price for the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have help and a little extra cash to cover unexpected expenses when things go wrong.
There are some restrictions. Because it’s an insurance product, it’s not available everywhere (yet). And you can only insure a limited number of flights/segments per day. Also, you can’t insure a trip that’s already begun, or one where a weather alert has already been issued. AirCare is for domestic U.S. trips, but they also have a complete international insurance product called ExactCare. You can find out more at the Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection website.
Have you used AirCare or a similar service? We’d love to hear about your experience. Just leave us a comment!
Details & Disclaimers: The Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection app is available for Android and iPhone. This article was neither solicited nor compensated. All experiences, opinions, and screenshots are our own.
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