Flight Delays: Should You Take Compensation Offered or Write In a Complaint Later?

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INSIDER SECRET: If you use the best travel insurance credit cards to book your travel, you can avoid having to rely on the airlines to compensate you fairly in certain situations because your credit card will have you covered.

I recently received a text from a friend who’d just been deplaned from her flight from Seattle to London. The truck that delivers the in-flight meals had struck the side of the airplane and the airline needed to make sure there hadn’t been any damage.

So there she was, sitting in the Seattle airport being told that it would be at least two hours before they got off the ground. She contacted me — her go-to travel expert — because they were offering everyone $15 meal vouchers to use at the airport during the delay. She wanted to know whether I thought she and her husband should take the voucher.

Faced with a flight delay? Make sure you know your options when it comes to asking for compensation from the airline. (Photo by Ekaterina Pokrovsky/Shutterstock)

My first response was “Did you mean $150, not $15?” Clearly, I felt like $15 was a silly offer. She said it was, in fact, a $15 voucher they were offering every passenger. I advised her to hold out and submit a complaint online after the trip.

Turns out that was incredibly valuable advice, as they ended up being delayed for over five hours, and the airline ended up sending them each $675 in compensation for the delay. That’s $1,350 directly to their bank account!

I cannot guarantee that accepting the $15 voucher would have precluded her from getting the larger compensation amount. But when filing the claim, she did note that the form said only one claim can be made per ticket. She also remembered that the staff handing out the $15 food vouchers in the airport took down each passenger’s information.

Moral of the story? It might behoove you to wait until after the flight to ask for compensation.

Don’t forget, it’s also always wise to use one of the best travel insurance credit cards to book your airfare just in case things go awry. With a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your trip delay insurance kicks in after six hours. You can read about team member Joseph’s experience filing a complaint with Chase here.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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