The recent British Airways lost baggage snafu really caught us off guard. How does an airline just lose thousands of pieces of baggage? And if they get lost permanently, who pays for it?
First, it’s important to know that your baggage is actually covered to a certain extent when you purchase your plane ticket. On domestic flights, liability for loss, delayed, or damaged baggage is covered by your airline and usually limited to $3,400. All the carriers have their own version, but as you can see on American Airlines' liability page, there are various restrictions and rules that determine your actual payout. That $3,400 dollars is not automatic — damage or loss must be proved, and the airlines won't pay if they believe your bag was unsuitably packed. What does that even mean?
So if you want to take the guessing out of your baggage insurance, here are some credit cards and insurance companies with plans that cover your valuables on domestic flights. Sorry, international flights are a whole other bag of chips. (Note: If your flight was booked with miles instead of a credit card, these rules will not apply.)
The lost luggage reimbursement plan by Chase is definitely one to consider as you plan your next trip. In addition to lost baggage reimbursement, it also offers baggage delay insurance. So, basically, if you’re stuck without your stuff for a couple of days, the company will help cover the cost of buying necessities until you’re back in action. Here are the key points:
If you or your immediate family members’ checked or carry-on bags are damaged or lost by the carrier, you’re covered up to $3,000 per passenger.
Baggage Delay Insurance: Reimburses you for essential purchases like toiletries and clothing for baggage delays of more than six hours by a passenger carrier. You’ll be reimbursed up to $100 a day for five days.
Annual Fee: $0
Interest: APR 15.99%
American Express Premier Awards Gold Card
American Express has a couple of different credit cards to choose from, but they all seem to have a similar baggage insurance plan. Here are some of the bullet points for its Premier Awards Gold Card:
You must purchase the entire fare for a common carrier ticket (e.g., plane, train, ship, helicopter, or bus) on your eligible card.
Coverage can be provided for up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage. For New York State residents, there is a $10,000 aggregate maximum limit for all covered persons per covered trip.
American Express will pay a maximum benefit of $250 for each covered person on a covered trip for loss of high-risk items. These include, but are not limited to: jewelry, sporting equipment, photographic or electronic equipment, and computers and audio/visual equipment.
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $175.
Interest: No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
Citi ThankYou Premier or Preferred Card
Citibank keeps it pretty simple. Here are the terms of its baggage insurance plan.
Charge the entire common carrier fare to your Citi card and get up to $3,000 in lost-luggage coverage for you and your dependents. This benefit covers permanently lost, stolen, or damaged baggage or personal articles checked with a common carrier.
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $125 after that.
Interest: 13.99%-22.99% variable APR based on your creditworthiness.
Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card
Bank of America’s credit card has its own baggage insurance plan. Here are the highlights:
Lost luggage or baggage insurance reimbursement — It provides up to $3,000 in coverage per trip for checked or carry-on luggage and its contents while traveling on a common carrier, provided the entire fare is charged to your eligible credit card. Certain exclusions, restrictions, and limitations apply.
Annual Fee: $0
Interest: Introductory APR is 0%; 14.99% to 22.99% after that.
In addition, if you’d like to purchase baggage insurance but don’t want to use a credit card, here are some reliable options:
AirCare is a part of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance and is a low-cost fixed-benefit flight-protection coverage.
What stands out the most is how affordable AirCare is. You can purchase the insurance for just $25 per trip, and it’s available up to one hour before flight departure — you can literally buy it on your way to the airport! If your baggage is lost or stolen, AirCare will reimburse you up to $1,000. In addition, if your luggage is delayed for more than 12 hours, travelers get $500. If you’re traveling a lot, the $25 fee might start adding up. But for the casual traveler, this sounds like a really great option.
Allianz has a couple of plans for customers to choose from. The most basic plan costs $24 and covers lost baggage up to $500. The plan also allows a baggage delay reimbursement of $200. If you want to pay $30, baggage coverage jumps to $1,000 and baggage-delay coverage to $300.