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Reader Steve H wrote to MileValue recently, expressing interest in sharing his personal experience utilizing the Trip Delay Protection benefit of one of his Citi cards. It helped him save money, and he wants to help you save too. 

Take it away, Steve!

The Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi ThankYou Premier card includes up to $500 of coverage for expenses like lodging, ground transportation, meals, and personal necessities when your trip is delayed.

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When You Qualify for Trip Delay Protection

Depending on the specific card this coverage can kick in anywhere from 3 hours (Citi Prestige® Card) to 12 hours (Citi ThankYou Premier) of delay.  As long as a portion of the delayed service is purchased on your applicable Citi card you have coverage for you and your traveling companions.  Service is limited to a common carrier which is any licensed public transport vehicle– so planes, trains, cruise ships, etc.

You will need receipts for everything so be sure to keep every piece of paper from the delay and anything you purchase.  You will also need proof of the delay, which you should be able to request from the carrier.  For airlines this is commonly called a Flight Certificate and confirms that you were a passenger and the scheduled and delayed times of departure.  As with many insurance claims this is not meant to be the easiest process and requires some diligence and a lot of paperwork, but can be a nice form of compensation when you are delayed.

Filing a Claim

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To file a claim call Citi at 866-506-5222 or download the claim form under card benefits.  In order to have the best chance of getting the claim approved, and the most money back, provide as much backup as possible and label each item.  You will need copies of the statement showing the charge from the carrier, your itinerary, receipts for expenses occurred, and if possible proof of delay, the carriers claim report, and benefits from any other insurance that you received. After submitting everything it will take a month or two for them to process the claim and contact you but there isn’t any other action needed on your part.

You have 180 days after the time of the incident to file the claim.

Personal Experience

Steve in the Phillipines
Steve in the Phillipines

In May I was flying from Hong Kong through Manila to Tagbilaran, Philippines. My Cathay Pacific flight from HKG to MNL was delayed 90 minutes due to a crew issue which caused me to miss my next flight on Air Asia to Tagbilaran.  Since my next flight was on a separate carrier Cathay couldn’t do anything for me and as far as Air Asia was concerned it was my issue since I missed the flight which left on time.  Unfortunately both Air Asia and Philippine Airlines remaining flights were both fully booked so I had to book a ticket for the next day which meant overnighting in Manila.

Tagbilaran, Philippines
Tagbilaran, Philippines

Upon returning home I filed a trip delay claim with Citi since my Cathay flight had been booked with one of my Citi cards that had the trip delay protection.  I had to wait about a month as the Flight Certificate takes about three weeks from the time you request it on Cathay’s website, but you have 180 days to file the Citi Trip Delay Request so this is not a problem.

With my request I included my statement showing the charge for the delayed flight, my itinerary on Cathay, my itinerary on Air Asia, the Cathay Flight Certificate showing the delay, receipt for my hotel in Manila, and my receipt for the rebooked flight.  After about a month a got a call from Citi asking if I had receipts for the taxi charges or the meals which unfortunately I did not, I had included them on the claim form, but I didn’t have receipts for any of those charges.  Without receipts they couldn’t process any reimbursement and the flight isn’t eligible for reimbursement, but they would process a benefit for the cost of my hotel.  After another week the credit showed up on my statement for the full amount of the hotel.  The process was paper intensive but easy as long as you kept good records.

I also wrote polite emails to Cathay and Air Asia explaining what had happened and asked if anything could be done in the form of compensation.  Cathay’s service was amazing and responded in less than 48 hours with an apology and an offer of $150 credit. Unfortunately the credit can only be used in person which is difficult unless you live in Hong Kong so I asked for an alternative and they credited my Asia Miles account with 15,000 miles as a courtesy.  Cathay may not be the cheapest airline out there but every time I have interacted with them the service is excellent.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong

Bottom Line

The Trip Delay benefit can really come in handy in the case that something in your travel plans goes awry.  With the Prestige card this can kick in after only 3 hours which is well within the window of delays that Southwest and Delta have experienced recently.  In the future I will certainly take this benefit into consideration when booking flights and I will be sure to keep every piece of paper until I return home as it might be applicable for reimbursement.

A note from Sarah Page: Thank you so much, Steve, for sharing your valuable experience with us. I have both the Prestige and Premier, so I will definitely keep these tips in mind:

  • keep all receipts when you experience delays
  • book tickets, especially those with more room for error, on your Citi Prestige® Card or Citi ThankYou Premier (which I would do anyways thanks to the 3x category bonus on travel purchases)
  • don’t be afraid to ask for compensation directly from the airline 
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