34 Responses

  1. Patrick S
    Patrick S at |

    You didn’t address the missed connection benefit. That one seems most valuable – not as a gambling game, but to help reduce the true opportunity cost of getting somewhere later than intended and dealing with the rescheduling headache, especially when a hotel night at the destination can no longer be cancelled. Whatever the house odds are, I’d guess that the connections are an expensive scenario many of us have had to deal with — just like the Amex lost baggage insurance which works like a charm factored into the annual fee.

  2. Scott
    Scott at |

    THIS IS GREAT for flying United, most other airlines…. not so much.

  3. Mike
    Mike at |

    Based on reading this article I suppose I had the wrong understanding of this product. I thought I read somewhere else that this was a trip insurance product, which for $25 would be a bargain, especially if your plans aren’t set or if you’re flying on points. Based on you not covering that topic and a quick visit to their site leads me to believe the only coverage they offer are those you mentioned above, and if that’s the case, I agree with you it’s not worth it.
    Am I correct that they don’t offer actual trip cancellation insurance? What about weather delays?

  4. Jon
    Jon at |

    I’m flying this Sunday night with a ~45 minute connection in Philly with a terminal change. If I miss it, then I’m stuck until the next day. I could see it being worth it in these situations.

  5. ptahcha
    ptahcha at |

    I wonder what happens if I am going to misconnect, but proactively asked the airline to reroute me so I am not stranded? Do I have to purposely misconnect to collect the cash?

  6. swag
    swag at |

    A (very) quick glance at the website, it looks like you can buy the coverage as late as an hour prior to departure. It seems like there are times when I know in the morning that weather on the way (t-storms, de-icing) make delays likely, and protecting a tight connection would be a good bet,

  7. Bob Unferth
    Bob Unferth at |

    Thank you for the analysis of this “insurance” scheme. There are a lot out there, and it’s hard to get information that’s helpful to the consumer. I’ve seen what I think is another such scheme: “Emergency Assistance Plus,” which, rather disappointingly, is being breathlessly promoted by AAA (54 million members, they claim), Sam’s Club, NRA (3 million members, they claim), the National Association of Social Workers (strange bedfellows), VFW, the Elks and, apparently, everybody’s brother-in-law.

    And they’re A+ with the Better Business Bureau. I guess they paid their dues.

    Looking over the AAA materials, I really wonder: What does it cover for only $129 for the whole family for a year?

    Well, if you get sick or have an accident they’ll monitor your care (by phone). If needed they’ll airlift you, or send a doctor or specialist (no less) to you. And when you’re better they’ll fly you home. They’ll also replace prescriptions and medical devices you lost, send any ol’ person you want to visit, take care of your kids, grandkids, pets, car, luggage and passport. They’ll even send you back dead. In the US or out.

    But, not mentioned at all:

    What are the limits for each service? Time and dollars?
    Pre-existing conditions? Definition and limitations?

    The only way to find out what is the actual coverage is to buy it. There are no consumer reviews of the product; just hype.

    Please excuse my diversion.

  8. Charlie
    Charlie at |

    Hmmm….. It sounds very similar to the “guarantee” that BizTravel.com used to offer free for any trip purchased through their website back in 2000-2001. More than 30 minutes late was a $100 refund, more than an hour late was a $200 refund and more than 2 hours late, they refunded your entire full ticket price.

    I booked EVERY flight I took through them ( I was flying from Tampa to Toulouse with usually a stop in Gatwick and/or Paris several times a year) from May 2000 until they stopped the guarantee because of having to pay out on too many claims. Essentially, I flew free that entire time because BA and AF were always screwing up connections.

    I doubt if AirCare will run into that problem because it’s only for domestic US flights.

  9. Marie
    Marie at |

    I agree that if you’re flying a few times a month, then you’re truly gambling. It just doesn’t happen that often. But for regular people like myself, $25 a couple times a year won’t kill you. Last year I languished on the tarmac for several hours at BWI before missing my connection at ORD. If I’d bought AirCare for every trip I took last year (which just wasn’t that many), I’d still have made a profit many times over from that one trip alone. Yes, it’s a crap shoot, but the few times I fly, something always seems to happen.

  10. AirCare Is No Better than an Extended Warranty - Hack My Trip

    […] Wandering Aramean may have beat me to it, but Thursday’s “Middle Seat” column in The Wall Street Journal has been sitting on my table reminding me to talk about AirCare travel insurance, a new business backed by Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway. On the surface it sounds enticing: Pay $25 per flight and you could be reimbursed hundreds or even a thousand dollars in the event of a variety of travel mishaps. There are no claims to file because AirCare tracks your flight with its own computers and wires the payment to your account. […]

  11. Karlyn
    Karlyn at |

    I don’t suppose there’s any trip insurance you DO recommend?
    I’m in for that Alitalia US-Israel-EU-Asia trip this November & have had a hell of a time finding anything sub-$100+ (estimated out of pocket for the month: $1K w/hotels & award nights/ flights back)…
    I do seem to have extreme weather/carrier/or other event happen whenever I travel & would like to have such additional expenses covered, if needed.

  12. Berkshire’s new service pays when flights hit snags | cheapesttravelinsurance.org

    […] it? Travel website Wandering Aramean doesn’t think so. “It is a sucker bet,” wrote Seth Miller on the site Thursday. There is just a tiny chance you’ll be stuck on the tarmac for more than […]

  13. Steve
    Steve at |

    Great column, but I have to disagree on two aspects. One of the other posters pointed out that certain airlines on certain flights are chronically problematic. I think you could game the system and optimize your payback if you were a business traveler and knew that for example, JetBlue BOS to SEA on Wednesday afternoons is always late.

    More importantly thought, if you’re like me and not an overly frequently traveler any more, this coverage will give you something other travel insurance can’t – A “Win” when you’re miserable and feeling very down on your luck. One of the worst feelings is when you’re on your time, about to begin your one or two real vacations for the year, and the airline blows it. Takes all the wind out of your sails, ruins your mood, and makes you feel just downright lousy. In those cases, I’d be ecstatic if I bought this $25 lottery ticket and “won” something. It would make that $25 the best money I had spent in terms of the lift it would give me to be able to “flip off” the airline, not let them spoil my and my family’s fun, and have an extra bit of extra cash to play with once things were back in order. And if it never pays off, $25 isn’t a lot of money when it’s only four or six times a year.

    1. guy
      guy at |

      Ahh the promises that are made by insurance and not kept. This insurance does not provide the fine print that says it is essentially worthless. Look at loungebuddy.com for the threads about how they do not pay out. I had a flight with connections in which the first leg cancelled due to air traffic so I could not make my connection. AirCare says it will not pay my claim!!! Still fighting them, but insurance of this type seems worthless.

  14. Ivan Y
    Ivan Y at |

    @ Seth — for some reason can’t open their site so would you mind answering these two questions:

    (1) Do they cover award travel?

    (2) With regards to Route Repair, what do they consider a missed connection? For example, if you are flying a one-stop flight and have a short connection, airlines try to automatically rebook you on the next flight of the day if there’s space (at least, that’s what happened to me on the way to & from FTU). So, in a sense, you don’t actually miss a connection because your itinerary is now different but you are forced to spend more time during layover which leads to more expenses. On the way to Seattle, I went from a 50-minute layover to almost 4 hours (thanks, PHX people for closing the gate early!) and on the way back to Houston, I’d had to spend a night on a 14-hour layover since my original flight was the last one for the day (fortunately, I sprinted across two terminals and made a connection to original flight even though Delta had already rebooked me on next morning’s flight).

    I guess, what I thinking is that if this insurance covers cases like that, it may be valuable for tight connections. Not a fan of cutting it close but some times things just work out that way.

    1. guy
      guy at |

      AirCare in your case does not cover the “missed connnection.” It is absurd but they consider that you did get to your destination even though a day or two late! Makes no sense but that is my current experience in asking for payment for cancelled flights causing me to miss my connections twice.

  15. guy
    guy at |

    Seth, you are so right to be sceptical and not trust insurance companies. When it comes to the pay out, the first answer given by AirCare is that the fine print says “No” we don’t cover that.” I can’t even find the policy details and definitions on AirCare’s website and they are making jokes on their FAQ page so I do not think they can be taken seriously. My big issue is regarding cancelled flights leading to missed connections. My claim so far has been denied.

  16. AirCare: New Travel Insurance | MisInsured

    […] in the AirCare coffers, whether you experience travel difficulties or not… and odds are,  you won’t experience anything out of the ordinary. That’s what AirCare and Warren Buffett are betting […]