Insurance claim denied because of … air traffic?

Arthur Ruffino’s travel insurance claim is a real heartbreaker, for several reasons.

First, he did everything he could to make sure he was covered by his CSA policy, but was still denied.

Second, his well-reasoned appeal went nowhere. And finally, even though I agreed that his case should be granted another review, the insurance company dug in its heels.

“Passengers who think that they are buying peace of mind when they purchase trip interruption insurance should be forewarned that their claims may be denied — even if the interruptions are beyond their control, such as canceled or delayed flights,” says Ruffino.

The origin of the claim is a delayed Air China flight from Chengdu to Beijing. It caused him to miss his connection to an Air Mongolia flight, which considered him a “no show.” He had to buy a new ticket and flew to his final destination the following day.

“Despite the frustrations that I experienced, there was one consolation,” he says. “I had purchased travel insurance which covered trip interruption. Therefore, I knew that I would at least be reimbursed for the new airline ticket.”

But that’s not what happened.

When I returned home, I contacted CSA and informed the company of the incident.

I was sent a claim form to fill out. I accomplished the form and submitted it with the requested documents. Later, I was asked to provide a credit card statement showing that I had purchased a new ticket, despite the fact that I had already sent them a copy of the new ticket, as well as a document from Air China noting that my original flight had been canceled.

Some days later, I received a letter from CSA. I assumed it was a reimbursement check. Instead, to my shock, I learned that my claim had been denied.

The letter stated, “Two of your flights with Air China were delayed, causing you to miss your connecting flight with Air Mongolia. We spoke with a representative at Air China who advised us both delays were due to air traffic control….As the reason for your trip interruption was not due to a covered event, no benefits are payable for your claim.”

That seems like a gaping loophole. Under that scenario, CSA could conceivably deny almost any claim, because airlines routinely blame “air traffic” for delays that are caused by weather or mechanical problems. Even so, it shouldn’t matter — a delay is a delay, after all. Right?

Wrong. I contacted CSA and asked if they were certain of their decision.

They were. Here’s what a representative told me.

CSA’s policy clearly states coverage is afforded only in instances due to weather, strike or mechanical breakdown. I believe this is standard in most travel insurance policies.

Insurance plans are built to cover and exclude specific items. Because everything has to be spelled out in order to provide coverage, there are many items which are not covered and, unfortunately, air traffic control is one of those.

I’ve been mediating insurance disputes for many years and I have to admit, I was unaware of this exclusion, or that it was an industry “standard.” (Just because it’s a “standard” doesn’t make it right.)

Ruffino is unhappy with the response — as am I.

The fact remains that no reason has been provided by Air China for the action taken by air traffic control.

Could weather have been a factor? And is it possible that air traffic control is a convenient scapegoat for air problems in China?

How do visitors to China protect themselves? Certainly this gap in coverage needs to be addressed.

I agree. To have an adjuster call Air China and have a representative blame “air traffic” seems like a flimsy excuse to deny a claim made in good faith.

Ruffino thought he was protected, and that’s an assumption I would have made, too.

Should CSA have denied this claim?

View Results

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  • lost_in_travel

    With the “Fiscal Cliff” threat to cut FAA funding, “air traffic” is likely to become a common reason for delays. Do all insurance companies follow this “standard”?
    I cannot say that I have ever had a trip where insurance would have helped me, so I self insure. Maybe it is better to put the insurance premiums one would have paid into an envelope under the mattress for the time when one really needs it. Perhaps we all need to do this and skip the insurance that seems to grow new exceptions and loop holes just when it is needed.

  • BillCCC

    I had always assumed that a late flight was one of the main reasons to have travel insurance regardless of the reason for the flight being late. What exactly did ‘air traffic control’ do that caused the flight to be late? Route the plane around weather? Keep them in the air because of a mechanical problem on the ground? I am not exactly sure what CSA stands for but I don’t think that I will consider them for any type of insurance.

  • I’ve been covering this industry for a while, and strangely, I had never heard about the air traffic exemption. That’s a pretty big loophole, if you ask me.

  • Alecdjm

    Yeah, cases like this make the whole concept of trip insurance even less attractive (begins to feel like the whole extended warranty thing)

  • Asiansm Dan

    I had been late and missed connection by air traffic delays, all my expenses are reimbursed (Hotel, Meals, Long Distance calls, etc…) . I think CSA insurance is a fraud if they exclude that.

  • Linda

    I had been considering CSA for an upcoming flight/cruise. They’re off my list now!

  • Alan Gore

    The increasing multiplicity of ‘gotchas’ make travel insurance, in most cases a waste of money.

    When you nest one separately-booked trip inside another trip, your best insurance is to never schedule the “inside” departure or return too close to the other booking. When you book a flight to meet a cruise, give yourself two or three extra vacation days in Miami rather than buying insurance which might let you down.

  • emanon256

    I voted no. These travel insurance companies are making me sick. It’s no longer insurance in my mind, it’s a flat out money grab. I know there are some good ones, or at least I often hear that there are, but I am too worried to even consider insurance after all these stories.

  • emanon256

    ATC is probably my most common delay. And usually it’s due to weather. I.E. ATC has issued a ground delay due to low visibility.

  • Nikki

    After reading this, I’m left wondering what is the point of travel insurance. Just seems like you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.

    Makes me wish they had built highways connecting the continents. I’d probably have better luck driving – less hassle and no boneheads out there trying to take my money (other than gas stations).

  • TonyA_says

    Missed Connection Benefits

    The Insurer will pay up to the amount in the schedule should you miss your cruise or tour departure as the result of the cancellation or delay of 3 or more hours of your regularly scheduled airline flights due to inclement weather. For this benefit, Covered Expenses means additional transportation expenses incurred to join the departed cruise or tour, reasonable additional accommodation and meal expenses incurred en route to catch up to the cruise or tour, and nonrefundable cruise or tour payments for the unused portion of your land or water travel arrangements. This coverage is available if no other coverage is provided by a Common Carrier or another party at no cost to you or as covered elsewhere in this policy.

    Seems pretty clear to me. Is it to you?
    What’s the problem? Failure to read and understand?

  • emanon256

    So it won’t even cover the flight if it was weather? Sounds like it just covers the missed cruise or tour. It is a little confusing to me. Also, what if weather was the reason for the ATC delay? Either way, after reading that I would never buy that policy.

  • john4868

    Instead of contacting Chris, the OP should have contacted the department in their state that handles regulation of insurance products. Unlike most of the other products that are discussed on this site, insurance is regulated and, therefore, the OP has more options than anywhere else.

  • TonyA_says

    But what does it really cover? You can eat, sleep, make calls, take a cab but it does not look like you can buy a new ticket on simple Carrier Delays. You must use the Missed Connection Benefit.

    Travel Delay.
    If your Covered Trip is delayed for 6 hours or more, we will reimburse you, up to the amount shown in the Schedule for reasonable additional expenses incurred by you for hotel accommodations, meals, telephone calls and local transportation while you are delayed. We will not pay benefits for expenses incurred after travel becomes possible. If your Covered Trip is delayed for 6 hours or more, we will reimburse you, up to the amount shown in the Schedule for reasonable additional expenses incurred by you for hotel accommodations, meals, telephone calls and local transportation while you are delayed. We will not pay benefits for expenses incurred after travel becomes possible.

    Travel Delay must be caused by or result from:
    a. Common Carrier delay; or
    b. loss or theft of your passport(s), travel documents or money; or
    c. quarantine; or
    d. hijacking; or
    e. natural disaster or adverse weather; or
    f. a documented traffic accident while you are en route to departure; or
    g. unannounced strike; or
    h. a civil disorder; or
    i. your, a Family Member traveling with you or a Traveling Companion’s Injury or Sickness;
    j. or a Family Member traveling with you or a Traveling Companion’s death.

  • Wayne Dayton

    I agree with Linda…screw CSA…I will never deal with them. They are not worthy of the term “insurance company”

  • deemery

    “Air traffic delay” could have been caused by a couple of things, it’s a symptom not a root cause.
    1. weather
    2. mechanical problems with ATC people
    3. labor problems with the controllers

    ALL of those strike me as covered under the explicit terms of the policy.

  • Chris Johnson

    Has anyone ever successfully been paid for a claim from a travel insurance company? This just all seems like one big scam to me.

  • commentfromme

    I have a claim ready to be mailed to CSA today and I am shaking just thinking about what loophole they will find to deny the claim.

  • LTMG

    Be ready for frequent “air traffic control” delays in China. I’ve had several first flights of the day out of an airport in China delayed due to heavy traffic in the airways. What are the more precise reasons? PLA Air Force missions or VIPs on government passenger planes in the airways that take precedence over commercial flights. These can happen at any time and with no warning. Different country, different written and unwritten rules.

    Travel insurance companies cannot possibly be aware of all of these possibilities, therefore their actuaries are unable to set insurance rates based on the probabilities of events they don’t know about.

  • deemery

    I think Mr Ruffino should take this to small claims court, by the way.

  • john4868

    @TonyA_says:disqus Here’s my concern. In my experience, most of the time my flight is actually delayed due to ATC controls (like Ground Stops & Ground Delays) implemented due to weather conditions and not weather itself. If this insurance company wants to use this route, it basically means that the benefit is not collectible because they can state that most delays are due to ATC controls and not weather. If you don’t believe me, wait until the first snow storm of the year at a hub. You’ll see that most flights are held due to ATC actions than are late due to the weather.

  • Yes. I have actually visited a major travel insurance company and I’ve spoken with its customers. It does happen.

  • TonyA_says

    Sounds like the OP had no idea what he was buying. He kept harping about Trip Interruption when that had nothing to do with the claim. He missed a connection, period.
    Now remember if you buy separate tickets [ I do not know if this is the case here ] then the insurance will argue that the flights were not even connected in the first place.
    Travel planning to remote places should be arranged by a local destination expert.
    I use local travel companies myself. They will tell you what you need.

  • TonyA_says

    To claim what? That is the issue. Delay will only buy you a meal, phone calls, perhaps a room and a cab to the hotel. Not new airline tickets.

  • technomage1

    I’d love to know percentages of claims actually paid out, though. Granted, I’m sure some claims are fraudulent and should not be paid out, but it does seem as if they look for any reason not to pay.

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah but we are arguing about a cause that has no bearing on this case.
    He cannot claim the cost of new airline tickets based on travel delay.

  • TonyA_says

    Did you read a sample CSA policy? So what now that there was a delay. What can you actually claim for reimbursement? That is the problem and not the cause of the delay.

  • Loophole indeed, as a thirty year ATCer I can tell you that 90% of delays that the airline attribute to Air Traffic Control are weather related. It’s tough to understand when the departure airport and the destination airport appear to be in good weather but there may be heavily used routes impacted, wet runways that reduce arrival and departure rates and turbulence that remove usable flight levels enroute. Gate agents used the “ATC delay” as a cover-all that removes any blame from the airline. Years ago, I was in the terminal of the airport I worked at and overheard the agent blame a late departure on ATC. The fact was the crew arrived late the night before due to a mechanical delay and had not had their required rest between flights. I made them retract the statement on the PA.

  • emanon256

    After reading the policy my point has become pointless.

  • TonyA_says

    Same problem with other SE Asian airports. Flights always delayed during peak hours. Too many flights due to high growth of air traffic. Their economies are too successful and many new low cost carriers are now flying:-)

  • TonyA_says

    For what?

  • john4868

    @facebook-669239199:disqus I help people file all the time. I’ve never seen a denied claim except for a single case where it wasn’t covered (in black and white in the policy as an exclusion).

  • That’s really interesting. Is there even an accepted definition of ATC delays? Or do airlines just make it up as they go along?

  • emanon256

    Had he purchased tickets on the same carrier, or tickets on multiple carriers sold by one of them (Isn’t that called interline), I believe the airline would have paid for his onward transportation after the delay.

  • TonyA_says

    NO your point about delays is important. ATC delays are so prevalent that they are not that UNFORSEEABLE. Insurance companies will go under if they have to pay on delays. No wonder European carriers have complained a lot about EC261. In Europe the airlines pay for delay compensation but not the kind the OP is claiming for.

  • I think CSA should take another look at this claim and make an exception. In terms of the policy language they are correct in denying the claim. However, “air traffic control” can easily become the default reason for many situations.

    Bad weather? Air Traffic Control kept the plane on the ground. Mechanical breakdown? Air Traffic Control directed the plane to stay on the ground.

    The essence of travel insurance is to protect against unknown, unexpected, and uncontrollable circumstances that cause a financial loss. Mr. Ruffino had no control over these events, and should be reimbursed.

    I believe this is a case where the insurance company is technically correct as their policy states what is covered and what is not, but not only should an exception be made here but they should consider updating their policies to cover what travelers expect it to cover.

  • TonyA_says

    Exactly! Insurance is no substitute for good travel planning.
    Wonder who was his travel agent. Himself? An OTA maybe :-)

  • Lauren Bear

    Has the traveler written to their state’s Attorney General? Sounds like it might be a good idea.

  • cruisemagic

    I have sold travel along with travel insurance (Allianz/Access America) for 15 years and none of my clients have ever had their claim denied.

  • Richard Gordon

    Post your problem on Facebook.
    Ask every one who receives it to forward it to some one else.

  • pradcliffe

    Wait, am I missing something here? Flights are delayed because of ATC controls “implemented due to weather conditions and not weather itself.” So if you call a horse by another name, it’s not a horse?

  • IGoEverywhere

    I am forwarding this column to my insurance underwriter, TravelGuard. It really sounds flimsy to me. I would instantly forward all of this information to my State’s Attorney General and file a claim against CSA immediately!

  • jerryatric

    Everyone keep this in mind & NEVER use CSA!

  • Megan Kelly

    That is because it is not industry standard. Mediate it!

  • TonyA_says

    John, did the OP miss a tour or cruise (that is part of the insurance) because of a 3 or more hour delay due to weather, YES or NO?
    That is the question. Let’s stick to the policy in question.

  • BillCCC

    You have me at a disadvantage since you seem to have a copy of the OP’s policy.

  • TonyA_says

    Just go their website and read a couple of their policies. They are pretty straightforward (in their favor) :-)

  • john4868

    @5ebb8253b22ca04b35519a9b1f5eccb5:disqus And that’s my concern… If this insurance company want to use the excuse here, what keeps an airline from saying that a delay due to a ground stop was an ATC control problem and the insurance company denying your claim.

  • pradcliffe

    I am seeing two issues here: First, the stated basis for the denial of the OP’s claim for the new ticket was that the delay was caused by air traffic control problems, not a covered cause, such as weather. Second, there is a good deal of discussion indicating that the policy would not have covered the new tickets anyway because the trip interruption insurance only covers telephone calls, meals, a hotel room. If the first is true, than CSA or perhaps the entire industry are frauds and need far better regulation. All CSA or any insurer has to do is put every problem under the ATC heading to avoid any claims it wants. If the second is true, why didn’t CSA state that and make it clear in the policy? Once again, why isn’t this industry better regulated?

    The bottom line for me is that I along with 96% of the voters on this
    issue believed the OP was covered. We all can’t be idiots nor can we
    all spend hours researching the meaning of “weather conditions” versus
    air traffic control problems caused by weather conditions.”

  • bodega3

    CSA provides a phone number to call when you are out of the country. Did the OP call BEFORE purchasing his new flight for assistance?

  • TonyA_says

    Chris Elliott, the article said the OP:
    (1) had to stay overnight in Beijing

    (2) had to buy a new ticket
    The insurance did not pay for his new ticket. But did it pay for his board and lodging for the night?

  • john4868

    @TonyA_says:disqus I’ve read this article multiple times and I never see where its stated what the root cause of the delays were. It could have been ATC holds due to weather.

  • Something tells me this isn’t a problem that’s unique to CSA, although, to be fair to the other insurance companies, I’ve never had a complaint exactly like this one.

  • SoBeSparky

    As a frequent visitor to China, I know air traffic control is an operation of the Chinese military. It is not a civilian agency. When it declares a flight will not fly, it will not fly. No one ever questions the wisdom of the Chinese military. You never get any clear answer as to why there is an air traffic control delay or cancellation. It just “is.”

    Air traffic control is the most frequent reason for delays and cancellations in China. It is a way of life, daily.

    This reaffirms my long-held belief that flight insurance is a fraud. It is Swiss cheese, a lengthy contract understandable to its fullest extent by only a very few who review claims. Even Chris was not aware of this exclusion, after years of work on this subject.

    If you are lucky enough to win Powerball, then buy flight insurance. You might be lucky enough to collect. If you are not that lucky, then you most probably will not be that lucky with travel insurance either. (Of course, a hyperbole.)

  • TonyA_says

    Take a deep breath everyone… Note he was noted as a NOSHOW by MIAT Mongolian Airlines (OM). That alone is a dead giveaway of the problem.

    If the Air China (CA) and Mongolian Air flights were on the same ticket, then the flight CTU-PEK-ULN will have a valid connection in Beijing. For as long as he is on the CTU-PEK flight, Mongolian Air will not NOSHOW him since its records will show he is on his way from Chengdu (just delayed).

    If he bought separate tickets, then definitely Mongolian Air will no show him.

    He took the risk of getting NOSHOWed in Beijing.

    So now the question is – can you buy travel insurance to cover that risk?
    Will travel insurance consider flights on separate tickets as a connecting flight?
    And if so, what can you even claim (i.e. can you just buy a new ticket)?

    Before we argue about ATC or INCLEMENT WEATHER, let us first determine whether this is a valid connection that is covered under MISSED CONNECTION BENEFITS. If not then all bets are off. Because with a simple TRAVEL DELAY all you get is a ham sandwich and, if it is longer, a night in a fleabag motel regardless the cause.

  • SoBeSparky

    Not so in China. All air space is reserved for the military, except for what it decides to give to civilian air traffic. There is absolutely no customer-satisfaction orientation. The true customer is the air force. All others are subservient.

  • jerryatric

    This seems pretty blatant to me! They could have settled, but chose to ignore the claim entirely. Since they are named – BOYCOT them. Only then can any hope for change be possible.
    I know companies are in it for profit, but some have gone overboard.
    You hear horror stories every day in every area of travel.

  • TonyA_says

    John maybe it’s me. Maybe I do not get the issues.
    What I am saying is regardless the reason for the ATC delay, the insurance company will ONLY help him catch up with a missed tour or cruise. They will NOT help you make it on time to your destination for other reasons.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Thank you. I was getting pretty confused as to why the “Missed Connection” portion of his travel insurance didn’t apply (making the rather wild assumption that his particular policy covered Missed Connections).

    Waiting to see if you can find a way to insure the risk you outlined; that of missing a connection when the tickets are not connected.

  • bodega3

    Thank you Tony as I had also figured out he was two separate PNR’s. Makes you wonder how much time he allowed for his connection. I wonder if he called CSA before making the two purchases to ask some important questions?

  • bodega3

    I wouldn’t jump the gun just yet. There are a few details that aren’t on the OP’s side.

  • I’ve reviewed the correspondence. It appears CSA didn’t cover any of his incidental expenses as a result of this delay. He does not indicate whether the reservations were connected, although I think it’s fair to assume they were not, otherwise Mongolian Air wouldn’t have considered him a no-show.

  • bodega3

    So with this new information to you, would you now change how you worked your poll?

  • dennis

    Sue them in small claims for a bad faith denial of coverage.

  • EirBryn

    Making a note to myself now – NEVER buy CSA insurance. Tell everyone I know not to buy CSA insurance. Denying this claim is such hogwash!

  • bodega3

    I think you need to read Tony’s entry. There could be more to this and to jump on an insurance company because the OP didn’t read his policy or call the insurance company is unfair.

  • bodega3

    So how does CSA differ from the others based on what you read here?

  • john4868

    @TonyA_says:disqus If they denied the claim for any reason other than “ATC,” I’m right there with you. Personally, I wouldn’t see why insurance would cover back to back ticketing like this appears to be.

  • Bill___A

    Wait a second…the airline considered him a “no show”. If he had a connecting flight ticketed through, then they would not likely have done that. If he bought separate tickets and didn’t have it as one itinerary, then he would be a “no show”. Not enough information here.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    At the very least this article makes it clear CSA wouldn’t be likely to budge on their policies while she might have better luck with somebody else even if their policies were identical.

  • They make it up. I was on a flight recently that was ready for pushback but we just sat at the gate. After a half hour or so the pilot came on and said there was an ATC delay and we’d be moving soon. A short time later a ramp crewmember came on board with some paperwork for the cockpit. My suspicion was the cockpit crew was waiting for a sign-off on a mechanical malfunction. That was confirmed when I called my friends at Flow Control who indicated there were no Air Traffic delays from my departure airport.

  • pauletteb

    Chris must have 45 employees of/apologists for travel insurance companies following his blogs. Who else would have voted No on this one?

  • TonyA_says

    I do not understand your point. Chinese Airlines are owned by the government anyway. So what?

  • flutiefan

    i will 100% guarantee you that i ONLY say it’s an ATC delay when my screen tells me it is. i NEVER make that up, even when i work at the most heavily delayed airport in the country.

    please don’t think that gate agents are just coming up with these things out of thin air. that gives us a bad rap. i am just the messenger… i pass along what i have been told is the reason for delay.

  • sheriberi

    who are the idiot 4%? employees of CSA? REALLY people, come on?

  • SoBeSparky

    Your thesis is that this is because of growth of aviation. Only one low-cost carrier allowed in China, Spring Airlines. So that is not a factor. Hence, “Not so in China,” comment.

    China military controls airspace principally for its benefit and for national security, not for the benefit of scheduled airlines. Yes, everything might be in some way connected to the government, except for Hainan Airlines which is not owned by the govt. But that does not mean that the government is a coordinated and effective entity.

    So my point was pretty clear. Air traffic is controlled by the military which uses the space itself. It also reserves the routes around “sensitive national security” areas. The bottom line, scheduled airlines and air traffic lane capacity are not the priority they are in the US and most of the world. Traffic delays are notorious, even when clear skies at departure airport, on route, and at arrival airport. That is just the way it is–arbitrary to a degree.

    “Air traffic control” may have been a legitimate reason for the cancellation, or it may have been the proverbial excuse for a cancellation due to lack of passengers. Further, buying airplane tickets in China is not anything like the USA. Connecting flights still are not generally observed. Instead, you buy two tickets, must pick up your bags at the claim and then carry them over to the next airline’s counter to check in for the next flights.

    “Connecting times” usually are 90-120 minutes minimum. Of course, there are some same-airline direct or through flights for which that procedure is not necessary. But changing airlines in China? Forget it, unless transferring to an international code-share or alliance partner with already ascertained automatic baggage transfer. Otherwise, they are two separate tickets.

    You could buy a ticket in the USA on the same ticket stock, but that means little as to coordination between airlines other than the exceptions noted above.

    A lot of assumptions are made on this site when speaking of foreign operations based on American ethnocentric mindsets.

  • TonyA_says

    Read my original post, I said Asia. There are a lot of flights TO/FROM China from other parts of the World especially Asia. So even if China itself does not have many LCCs (yet), others have and (combined with the big guys) their using the same airspace to fly into and out of China. Military use is irrelevant.
    Read CAPA or airlineroute once in a while and see the explosive growth in Asia.

    Chengdu to Beijing is the 22nd busiest route in the World beating JFK-LAX which is only #27.

    Read the chart (in the link) as of 2011:

    Domestic top routes by nation

    China – 7, 15, 22, 23, 28, 31, 39, 42

    Japan – 1, 3, 6, 9, 37

    Indonesia – 12, 19, 21, 43, 49

    Australia – 4, 13, 36

    USA – 18, 27, 35


    FYI, I am about to fly the #1 busiest route in a 3 weeks from now. Maybe I will buy CSA insurance. Ha ha ha

    Oh, I also do not have an American ethnocentric mindset :-)

  • Lindabator

    I think he may have gotten farther calling CSA as soon as he was delayed, rather than waiting till he got home. They may have had a covered reason at that time, and the company could have handled the re-route.

  • Lindabator

    If they specifically state it is NOT covered, he unfortunaetley has no recourse.

  • Lindabator

    Not a fraud, just more specific in what they may or may not cover — sometimes you get what you pay for.

  • Lindabator

    which is why he SHOULD have called CSA when first delayed, rather than purchasing new tickets and dealing with it when he got home. For all we know, this WAS a covered reason originally, and they could change his flights with a minimum of fuss. ALWAYS tell my folks – CALL FIRST!!!!

  • Lindabator

    great point! why is it they always do things AFTER the fact, and bemoan the fact they would not have been allowed to do it? Ask first – don’t assume (you all know what THAT means!) :)

  • Lindabator

    No, its not. But just like buying an HMO with specific doctors, you cannot be covered if you go outside the COVERAGE of the policy. I’ve had clients buying insurance for over 20 years, and believe me, we’ve had MANY claims – and as long as they were legit and fully documented, they all got refunds.

  • Lindabator

    But I think he booked something NOT covered by the policy, didn’t bother to assure it was, made the arrangements when presented with the problem OUTSIDE the insurance company, and then just assumed they’d cover him – NEVER assume – call them 1st!

  • Lindabator

    My point exactly – the problem with a lot of these cases is people do what is easier for them (so they think), rather than calling the insurance provider to take care of the problem, or explain what the next step is.

  • SoBeSparky

    You said, “Same problem with other SE Asian airports.” The word “same” speaks for itself.

    Slots into and out of China are highly regulated. Convenient times are sometimes parceled out after waiting years.

    How could military and national security use of air space be irrelevant when air traffic lanes are inadequate in size? There is a clear cause and effect, given that most Chinese airports are new with newly added runways. Pudong, for example, has three 3,400-4,000 meter runways with two more to be added in the next three years, in addition to the two 3,000-meter-plus runways over at Hongqiao.

    Funny thing about China is that runways and airports are built in a matter of months, not years. NIMBY does not exist when the government makes a decision. Then it just is a matter of compensation.

    China is square mile for square mile as large as the USA. It is not high total-seat routes which clog the inadequate air traffic lanes, but the total traffic of aircraft. Each plane takes up space with larger ones taking a bit more. Number of seats is largely irrelevant.

    I was not referring to you personally as ethnocentric. Sorry if you took it that way. I was commenting on all those decrying separate tickets as the reason for the no-show status. Without traveling to China and experiencing the so-called system over many dozens of flights, it is hard to see how they claim their speculation is correct, other than by projecting their own experiences. In China separate tickets are the rule, not the exception, and on-line ticket agents (not the airlines themselves) sell them that way.

  • TonyA_says

    Oh, more details that don’t fit… What else is missing in the story?

    For a route like Chengdu -> Beijing -> Ulan Bator on the same ticket, the airline flying the international segment gets to validate the ticket. So if he flew CTU-BJS on Air China (CA) and then BJS-ULN on Mongolian Air (OM), on the same ticket, then the ticket MUST be issued by MIAT Mongolian Airlines. Those are the rules of the game (no ifs or buts).

    That said, Mongolian Airlines does NOT have a THROUGH fare for Chengdu to Ulan Bator. If you want to buy a ticket from them for this route, they can sell you one based on a Air China (Y or B) fare from CTU to BJS combined with their own fare for BJS to ULN. That fare combination will be much more expensive compare to buying a separate Air China (domestic) ticket from Chengdu to Beijing and another Mongolian Air (international) ticket from Beijing to Ulan Bator.

    But why would anyone go to this trouble in the first place? The answer lies on the seasonal flight schedules from Beijing to Ulan Bator.

    For the WINTER schedule, Air China flies PEK-ULN dep 1155A arv 230P.
    But for the SUMMER schedule, Air China flies PEK-ULN dep 835A arv 1050A.

    If the passenger is starting his journey from Chengdu, the earliest CTU-BJS flight is dep 800A arv 1030A. That is no good since the BJS-ULN flights departs at 835AM. So for the summer schedule of Air China, he needs to fly out from Chengdu late at night and stay overnight in Beijing to catch flight to Ulan Bator.

    So maybe that is the reason he took a different option – one of Mongolian Air.

    Here was his (summer) options for OM:

    CA4105 CTUPEK- 400P 620P
    OM 224 PEKULN- 830P 1055P 6h.55m

    CA4109 CTUPEK- 300P 530P
    OM 224 PEKULN- 910P1135P 8h.35m

    CA1416 CTUPEK- 210P 440P
    OM 224 PEKULN- 910P1135P 9h.25m

    How much you want to bet he picked the first one – the shortest flight duration?
    Maybe, that’s why he missed the Beijing-Ulan Bator flight. The MCT (min connection time) at BJS Terminal 3 is already 2 hours and that assumes your flights are interlined (on same ticket). On a separate ticket, you need to claim your bags from CA, run to OM counter and check in again. No way you can do that in 2 hours even if the airplane is on time.

    Ahh, and then the money issue …

    I priced both one-way options for a 02JUN 2013.

    Here’s the price of the flights together in ONE ticket. $1146 (ouch)

    1 CA4105Y 02JUL TU CTUPEK SS1 400P 620P/O $ E
    2 OM 224B 02JUL TU PEKULN SS1 910P 1135P/X $ E


    ADT01 6620 1063.00 83.00 1146.00
    *TTL 6620 1063.00 83.00 1146.00

    ADT CTU CA BJS680.95OM ULN362.54NUC1043.49END ROE6.34402OM
    TX 22.50CN 55.50YR 5.00YQ

    Here’s the price for separate tickets (added up is $695)

    1 CA4105Y 02JUL TU CTUPEK SS1 400P 620P/O $ E


    ADT01 1440 231.00 30.50 261.50
    *TTL 1440 231.00 30.50 261.50

    TX 8.00CN 22.50YR


    1 OM 224B 02JUL TU PEKULN SS1 910P 1135P/O $ E


    ADT01 2300 369.00 65.00 434.00
    *TTL 2300 369.00 65.00 434.00

    ADT BJS OM ULN362.54NUC362.54END ROE6.34402OM
    TX 14.50CN 5.50YQ 45.00YR

    The total price for separate tickets is almost half of the single (combined flight) ticket. No wonder he probably bought 2 separate tickets and insured his trip. He knew from the get go they were iffy and cheap insurance would have “protected” him if things went wrong – WRONG !!!

    Travel Insurance will not guarantee the unforeseen cost of missing 2 or more unrelated flights. By buying separate tickets, you are intending to STOP at your destination for each ticket. As far as they are concerned you made it to EACH destination.

    From CSA’s perspective, if CTU to BJS is late and the airline did not feed you, then you might be able to claim the cost of a sandwich or streamed bun in China.

    The Chinese have a saying (or curse) – “May you live in interesting times”.
    You can say that about travel insurance :-)

  • TonyA_says

    I fail to see how this has anything to do with travel insurance not paying up in this case. INCLEMENT weather in Asia or America is still INCLEMENT weather whether the military controls the airspace.

    All I am trying to say is be aware that a lot of flights in ASIA are late because the airspace is congested in many cities.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Great breakdown. I have a much better appreciation of the problem, along with @SoBeSparky:disqus ‘s contributions.

    So . . . how do you insure this kind of situation? Or don’t you, and simply put the savings ($1136 – $695 = $441 in your example) aside to be available if things go wrong?

  • TonyA_says


    Can you please explain your comment:

    In China separate tickets are the rule, not the exception, and on-line ticket agents (not the airlines themselves) sell them that way.

    Do you think the OP bought his ticket in CHINA or in the USA?
    How can he buy CSA insurance if he did not buy it in the USA?

  • Lindabator

    This refers to a cruise or tour – where in the above do we see that’s what he was doing?

  • TonyA_says

    nowhere. all we know is he is flying CTU-BJS-ULN.
    for all I know he is herding goats in the mountain.

  • Hunter45

    If CSA is not going to cover him for ATC delays, what good would it do him to call them? He gets to sleep in the airport and then walks to Mongolia?

  • TonyA_says

    You buy the correct type of ticket and let the airline take care of you.
    That is my [Asian] philosophy.

  • TonyA_says

    Linda, what the OP wants to claim is NOT COVERED in the (typical CSA) policy. This whole ATC thing is not relevant to his case. I wonder why it was even discussed.

  • Lindabator

    Couldn’t really vote on this one — do we know more details here????

  • Lindabator

    True – but if he had contacted them immediately, he might have had a bit more recourse, or would have at least known what his options were. ALWAYS call 1st!

  • Lindabator

    HAHA – this is one of those cases we NEED more infor before we can even CONSIDER an answer. :)

  • TonyA_says

    My guess (only a guess) is that when he was told he was a NOSHOW he already knew it WAS HIS FAULT he bought separate tickets.
    By the way, I wonder if he bought coverage for his WHOLE TRIP. When you buy separate tickets (online I suppose), travel insurance will be sold for EACH flight separately. So maybe the insurance company is not even aware of the complete trip. Just speculating wildly :-)
    But definitely make that collect call from China…

  • TonyA_says

    I think if he bought 2 (or more) separate tickets online, then each purchase will be covered by a separate insurance policy, too. Not unless he told CSA that he wanted to insure his WHOLE TRIP (i.e. tours, etc.). Following that line of thinking, since each flight stands separately on its own, then there is no connection between them to miss. That said, he needs to review if the policy will pay for noshows (for what reasons).

  • EdB

    Yeah. Come on. There’s no need to be calling people idiots.

  • bodega3

    Charlie, you buy insurance and they provide you with an out of country number to call for assistance. Why make guesses at what you can or can’t, should or should’t do. Call! The outcome could have been or might not have been different, but at this point he doesn’t know that because he didn’t call.

  • TonyA_says

    They are probably better :-)

  • SoBeSparky

    No one said the delays were because of inclement weather. Air traffic control was only definitively stated reason.

  • TonyA_says

    Yeah but insurance will pay out if the delay was caused by INCLEMENT WEATHER. And as people here have stated, ATC delays can be caused by INCLEMENT WEATHER.

  • TonyA_says

    Chris, I re-read and saw this “Two of your flights with Air China were delayed, causing you to miss your connecting flight with Air Mongolia.”
    WHICH TWO? I thought there was only one Air China flight CTU-BJS.

  • SoBeSparky

    And caused more often, as experienced internal China travelers know, by overcrowded air traffic lanes because of the military use of airspace as well as broad restrictions over national security locations. As stated long ago in this thread, “Traffic delays are notorious, even when clear skies at departure airport, on route, and at arrival airport. That is just the way it is–arbitrary to a degree.”

  • TonyA_says

    The impression I get is that airlines ABuse the ATC excuse to get out of paying anything. So it is very possible that when the Insurance Company called Air China, that is what they told CSA. Must be an automatic reaction :-)

    I sell Air China and the #1 complaint my clients have is they mostly do not speak English. So this might be the easiest way to get a phone call to end – ATC, ATC, ATC …

    If you read my other posts, the irony is it does not matter if the flight was delayed by weather since his buying a new ticket was not covered, regardless.

  • Daisiemae

    The real question is should travelers buy travel insurance when it is quite clear that the deck is stacked against them ever getting a claim paid. Story after story shows that the insurance companies have it all figured out so that they never have to pay what ought to be legitimate claims. It just seems to me that buying travel insurance is flushing good money down a giant gaping toilet.

  • TonyA_says

    Here’s an article about it:

    Since someone actually wrote an article about whether insurance will cover missed connections on flights with separate tickets, I guess this (rejections) happens more often than we think.

    It is important to note that the reason for the delay (i.e. ATC, weather, etc.) is secondary. The primary question is whether missed connections will be covered at all if you have separate tickets.

    I don’t want to try it, so I don’t buy separate tickets unless I am spending a lot of days in between them.

    For example, I would fly to Asia and back on Cathay Pacific (nope I don’t like Air China or China Southern or China Eastern). While in Asia, I will also buy Intra-Asia tickets because they are very cheap over there. But I make sure they get me back to my Asian Base well before I need to get back to the USA. Delay problems are not an exclusive CA problem. Everyone’s got them. So plan accordingly.

    The OP had the option to fly the same route using CA all the way for about the same price but he had to leave at night and wait at Beijing airport till the morning. Had he did that, then there was no need to buy another ticket due to No-Show.

    Insurance will not fix a lousy travel plan. I’d rather spend time creating a good plan than risk it.

  • TonyA_says

    John, what is the incentive for CA to lie to CSA? Even if the flight delay was caused by them, CA does not have to pay anything since they are not responsible for the OP missing his next flight which is on a separate ticket. CSA cannot recover money from CA on anything in this case.

    There is an incentive for CSA to lie so they don’t have to pay up. How do we know what transpired between CA and CSA? CSA can say anything it wants and we have to disprove them.
    Folks listen up. When I help clients document claims, we have to prove why we are right. The insurance company will look for every way to REJECT your claim. They are not thinking of ways to approve your claim. So unless you do your homework and document everything, you are pretty much wasting money.

  • TonyA_says

    I’m confused. Is there anything so special about this one that makes it worthy of a policy exception? Why reward people who book separate tickets or tight connections?

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Excellent summary and overall advice.

  • bodega3

    Isn’t that the case with most insurances, be it for your car, your home, even medical. I always tell clients that the last thing travel insurance companies want to do is pay out, so call and ask all the questions you can think of to help make the correct decision for their travel plans. BTW, there is more to travel insurance than trip interruption and cancellation and I am sure the OP took the coverage out for those, too. Sadly, he didn’t call the company when his flight was delayed, even if it meant as soon as the plane touched down.

  • christmas is coming

    if the plan does not say “Common Carrier delay” – it would not be covered. Most Trip Delay covered reasons are for specifically listed covered incidents that can be proven in writing. and Trip Delay usually does not cover the cost of tickets etc.
    did you read the coverage and exclusions?

  • technomage1

    Good to know. I’ve always considered it kind of a scam, but maybe I should rethink that. I’m sure some companies are better than others.

  • What is the difference of CSA with the other flights? Why they always do things after the fact! Ask first do not assume!

  • Correct type of ticket at twice the price, though? I don’t think many people would do that… My question is: How late was he? If he knew he was coming in late, why not call ahead and let them know? Wouldn’t they have been able to reschedule him on a later flight (with a fee), rather than no-showing and having to buy a whole new ticket?

  • Hmmm. I just bought cheap tickets to Laos next month. Two separate tickets. Here’s to hoping nothing happens in between the flights!

  • EdB

    why on earth would an airline want to do that? why charge just a fee when you can force them to pay for a whole new ticket. *sarcasm mode off*

  • TonyA_says

    Ha ha, couldn’t resist that near monopoly of Bangkok Airways :-)
    I guess your route is via BKK first?

  • TonyA_says

    Not really. The THROUGH fare of Air China for CTU-ULN will end up cheaper ($498.20) than separate tickets ($695). You just have to endure the wait in BJS airport.

    Separate tickets are not necessarily cheaper.

    1 CA4193Y 02JUL TU CTUPEK 1000P 1230A#1/O $ E
    2 CA 901K 03JUL WE PEKULN 835A 1050A/X $ E


    ADT01 2500 401.00 97.20 498.20
    *TTL 2500 401.00 97.20 498.20

    ADT CTU CA X/BJS CA ULN394.07NUC394.07END ROE6.34402CA
    TX 22.50CN 70.70YR 4.00YQ

  • Extramail

    Can he go to small claims court? We always here “pay more for an inclusive insurance policy” and they STILL find a way to deny? So what the bleep is insurance good for? And, Chris, didn’t the government just start a new agency that is supposed to protect consumers rights? As much as I think another government agency is an oxymoron, I’d investigate that route as well. Unbleepinglybelievable!

  • Extramail

    And, after all that explanation by TonyA, I haven’t a clue as to how to book a flight outside of this country. So, tony, what’s your contact information, in case I ever do need such trip planning? I’ll say it for you, TonyA: use a very good travel agent and pay the extra money for piece of mind!

  • Nope. Actually Saigon to Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane. I’m on AirAsia which has its own crappy terminal and only have carry on, so here’s hoping I make the 85 minute connection!

  • TonyA_says

    James, have you read this?

    What if a planned/ad hoc delay or cancellation of one flight segment causes me to miss my connection which I have booked as 2 separate point to point flights and does not come with the Flight Transfer service?

    This is not subject to our T&C as a point to point carrier,
    service recovery under this circumstance is entirely dependent on the discretion of the airline based on the cause of the disruption.

    Oh man, you’re stuck :-)

    Just kidding …

    I looked up the schedules:


    DLY AK1451 SGNKUL-1035A 125P 320 0
    DLY AK1457 SGNKUL- 125P 415P 320 0
    DLY AK1453 SGNKUL- 410P 700P 320 0
    DLY AK1455 SGNKUL- 815P1105P 320 0

    DLY AK1412 KULVTE- 735A 910A 320 0

    Looks like no matter what. you will overnight in KL since the flights don’t “match”. Might as well eat some good food in KL.

  • bodega3

    There are questions left unanswered before you jump on the the small claims bandwagon. Why didn’t he call the insurance company before making the new ticket purchase? Did he insure botht tickets? What was his arrival time and what was his departure time on the next ticket at the time of the ticket purchase. Did he allow time for delays, recheckin, claiming baggage, rechecking of baggage?

  • Kathryn

    I don’t work for a travel insurance company, but I do work for an auto/home insurance company. And I can say that the problem is not the company, it’s often times the customers that don’t bother taking the time to read what they are purchasing. Many times I’ve had to force information on a customer buying a policy because they were in too much of a hurry to listen. But I bet if they need to file a claim then they’ll raise hell when they realize what coverage or lack there of that they have. Also, if the airline is going to stand by their answer of air traffic, then shouldn’t the airline have some accountability in that? Similarly if the car you buy proves faulty or unsafe in someway and you have a wreck, you can bet you insurance company is going to seek payment from the manufacturer. I don’t work for myself, I work for a company. I don’t gain anything for my opinion here, and I am a consumer myself. People need to take the time to read and understand what they have, and they need to push the issue with he real source of the problem. In the case the airline, but I don’t hear any mention of that here. It’s often too easy to just blame the big bad insurance company. That’s just too easy and a cop out. Something is wrong here, but I don’t agree it’s with the insurance company, in this scenario.

  • Yeah, I overnight in KL, but will just sleep in the airport for 6 hrs or so (God, I hope I wake up in time… flying solo but meeting friends in Laos). The AirAsia hotel costs USD 62 for the tiniest room you’ve ever seen. You have to pay for a/c, towels, soap, etc. all separately! It’s coming back where I chose the tight connection – arriving 1330 and leaving 1455. But I only have carry-on and hopefully won’t have to clear immigration. There’s another flight at 1800 or so, so if I miss it, I’ll just pay to get on the next one. Fingers crossed!

    Oh, and AirAsia has their own low-cost terminal. Nothing good to eat there except for McDonald’s (which we don’t have in Vietnam), so that’s where I’ll be hanging out!

  • Chika Watanabe Adams

    Our UA flight was cancelled last minutes with ATC (run-way construction, SFO) on 6/19/2014.
    UA put us for next flight, which was departing in 24 hours with no compensation. United Airline denied any responsibilities since the flight cancellation was caused by ATC.

    Also, Travel Guard kept saying it was “Trip Interruption, not Trip Delay” and denying the claim. We took BART & Amtrack home and arrived 8 hours later, due to all rent-a-cars were sold out and/or no-one way rent was allowed this time.

    Agree! No more travel insurance (place those money under my bed from now on.)