Airlines are Getting Better at Handling Bags but Winter Remains the Worst Time for Lost Luggage

Heading into winter, fliers should take extra precautions with their checked luggage _ December and January are traditionally the worst months for lost bags.

To avoid problems, arrive at the airport early enough to let your bag get to the plane, and print out a copy of your itinerary from the airline’s website and stick it inside just in case all the tags get ripped off.

planeIn the U.S. during the first nine months of this year, 3.3 bags for every 1,000 passengers didn’t make it to their destination on time, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That’s not great if you are one of those people whose bag is delayed or lost. But consider this: during the 2007 peak in air travel, airlines were mishandling more than twice as many suitcases _ 7.2 bags per 1,000 passengers.

Globally, the baggage-mishandling rate has fallen 61 per cent from its peak in 2007, according to SITA, an aviation communications and technology provider. That has saved the industry $18 billion.

The vast majority of bags _ 80 per cent _ aren’t lost but just delayed, according to SITA. And it takes about a day and a half to reunite passengers with their bags. Another 14 per cent are damaged or have their contents reported stolen. And nearly 6 per cent of bags are lost or stolen completely.

December and January tend to be the worst months because there are a lot of infrequent travellers checking multiple bags, and a few snowstorms can add to delays and suitcases that miss connections.

The overall improvements to baggage handling come after carriers spent millions of dollars to upgrade their systems.

Tug drivers now get real-time updates of gate changes so they can change their path and ensure that bags make their connection. Scanners allow bags to be tracked throughout the system, preventing a suitcase bound for Chicago from being loaded onto a plane to Detroit. Gate agents have printers to help tag bags that are checked at the last minute because of full overhead bins. And, overall, fewer bags are being checked because of bag fees.

“We continue to invest in technology and in processes so we understand where bags are at all times, and we can manage the failure points,” says Bill Lentsch, senior vice-president for airport customer service and cargo operations at Delta Air Lines.

Airlines are also starting to empower passengers _ or at least keep them better informed.

Delta was the first airline to allow fliers to track their own checked luggage, first on the airline’s website in 2011 and then on its mobile app in 2012. Bag tags are scanned when the suitcase is dropped off, loaded onto a plane, loaded onto a connecting flight and then again before being placed on the carousel at baggage claim. Passengers can see all those scans.

American Airlines followed suit in August, allowing passengers to see when a suitcase was loaded or unloaded from a plane. Right now, it is only available on the airline’s website but will eventually be part of the mobile app.

Sitting on a plane ready for takeoff and knowing that your suitcase isn’t in the hold below might be frustrating. But airlines say they would rather have passengers know it then and talk immediately to a baggage representative, once on the ground, instead of standing at the carousel waiting for a suitcase that isn’t there.

If your bag is late, you might be able to get some bonus frequent flier miles or even a voucher toward a future flight.

Since 2010, Alaska Airlines has promised that suitcases will be on the carousel within 20 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate. If not, passengers get a $25 voucher for a future flight or 2,500 bonus frequent flier miles. Delta copied that policy this year, offering 2,500 bonus miles to existing members of its frequent flier program _ but no voucher. Act quickly: Alaska requires you to reach out within two hours of arrival; Delta within three days. And ultimately it’s your stopwatch against the airlines’ _ they are the final arbiter of tardiness.

And if you wanted to get that $25 checked bag fee refunded, you are out of luck.

canada-press

 

TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators becomes Allianz Global Assistance

TORONTO, Nov. 16, 2015 /CNW/ – Allianz Global Assistance and TIC Travel Insurance Coordinators (TIC), which merged to form one of Canada’s largest providers of travel insurance and assistance in January 2015, officially became one in both name and brand on November 16th, 2015.

According to Canadian CEO, Daniel Wichels, the rebranding of TIC to Allianz Global Assistance will have positive implications for partners and their customers, as well as for new business prospects.

“This rebranding is an important and symbolic milestone in the integration of our recently merged entity,” says Wichels. “Our market presence will be strengthened as a result, thanks to having a unified brand identity across all channels we operate in. It will also improve the consistency of our product and service offerings, presenting existing and new partners with more opportunities to cross-promote our unique travel insurance solutions.”

Partners and customers who were previously serviced under TIC will also benefit from the strength of the Allianz brand worldwide.

“Allianz routinely ranks among the top brands globally in terms of brand value and recognition,” Wichels continues. “The Allianz name is 125 years old and can be found in all corners of the world, appearing on financial institutions across Europe and Asia, on stadiums in Germany, France, Australia and Brazil, and through sponsorships of major sporting and cultural events.”

“From a travel insurance perspective, this unparalleled international presence creates a significant advantage, since medical providers worldwide recognize Allianz Global Assistance as a name they can trust. This brand strength and recognition can result in more responsive care in times of need, which is reassuring for both our partners and their customers who travel abroad,” says Wichels.

Allianz Global Assistance, which holds long-standing partnerships with many of Canada’s best known travel, financial and insurance brands, will complete the transition from TIC to Allianz Global Assistance on November 16th. There will be no interruption in service to partners or customers as a result of this brand transition.

Allianz Global Assistance (Canada)

For more than 50 years, Allianz Global Assistance has supported travelling Canadians when they need it most with value-added travel insurance and assistance services. More than 600 employees support long-term partnerships with some of the best known brands in the travel and financial services markets. The company also serves as an outsource provider for in-bound call centre services and claims administration for health insurers, property and casualty insurers and credit card companies. Allianz Global Assistance is the registered business name for AZGA Service Canada Inc. and AZGA Insurance Agency Canada Ltd. For more information, visit http://www.allianz-assistance.ca

Allianz Global Assistance (Worldwide)

International leader in assistance, travel Insurance and health, home and lifecare services, today Allianz Global Assistance’s global family counts more than 12 700 employees who live to help. They speak 58 different languages and work hand in hand with a vast, global network of service providers and correspondents. 250 million people, or 4% of the world’s total population, benefit from its services, which they provide on all five continents.

SOURCE Allianz Global Assistance 

For further information: Press Contact: Dan Keon, Director of Marketing and Communications, Allianz Global Assistance, Email: Dan.keon@allianz-assistance.ca, Phone: 647-680-2893

Survey reveals what Canadians don’t know about their travel health insurance

TORONTO, Sept. 30, 2015 /CNW/ – Canadians need to better understand their travel health insurance policies if they want to ensure they aren’t in debt for out-of-country medical expenses, based on findings from a Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) survey.Forty-seven per cent of respondents have never reviewed their policies even though 23 per cent have required medical care while travelling.

“Policies vary from provider to provider. It’s important to understand what will impact your coverage for medical expenses outside of Canada, or even within Canada,” said Alex Bittner, THiA President. “Everyone should have a carefree holiday and not worry about unexpected medical expenses”.

A survey of Canadian travel insurance providers shows that more than 95.3 per cent of travel health claims are successfully paid. THiA wants to see this number increase. This year’s survey was designed to identify the public’s understanding of common factors that can lead to a claim being denied. Some key points that travellers need to read and understand about their travel health insurance policies include the following.

Diagnostic tests or prescription changes
A claim can be denied if a physician orders you a diagnostic test or prescribes a change in medication prior to travelling. If you have a pre-existing condition that you are looking to cover, it needs to be stable for a period of time as specified in the policy, meaning no change in health or even a change of meds (dosage or type).  More than 55 per cent of respondents did not realize that a blood test that indicates a change in health status could compromise their medical stability, and as a result their coverage. Sixty-four per cent do not realize that a change in prescription can qualify as a change in health status.  “I’ve coined it ‘Doctor Disconnect’.  To have a physician unwittingly compromise travel insurance coverage is unfortunate. None of us want that.” said Bittner.  Education is key.

Travelling while pregnant
Most travel health insurance policies do not cover women more than 31 weeks pregnant. This means that any kind of health condition experienced after the specified period in the policy will not be covered. Forty-three per cent of respondents believe that pre-term infants are covered by travel health insurance when the reality is that virtually no policies cover pre-term infants born while travelling. Neo-natal intensive care can bankrupt a family. Does this mean that the ever popular ‘baby-moon’ should be banned? Not necessarily but perhaps consider taking that last trip in the first half of the pregnancy, and realize that even if you are covered, the baby may not be.

Being intoxicated
Thirty-nine per cent admitted to being intoxicated while on vacation but a full 52 per cent admit to being unaware that an injury or illness that occurs with high blood alcohol levels can lead to a claim being denied.

Business travel requires travel health insurance too, especially for entrepreneurs
Less than one per cent of respondents purchase travel insurance when travelling for business. Many companies have extended travel health insurance but it’s the travellers’ responsibility to understand their coverage. Employee benefit plans also are subject to exclusions and limitations.  Small business owners should double check and ensure they have the necessary coverage.  And good news, it’s tax deductible.

What constitutes an extreme sport?
Some policies consider hiking a form of mountaineering. Thirty-four per cent of those surveyed have hiked on vacation. Buying the wrong policy can be costly as a broken leg can cost up to $10,000 per day (and much more if there are complications) for medical treatment in the United States.

“We want people to have confidence in their travel health insurance policies. Understanding your policy and coverage will help ensure that you are looked after in the event of unexpected medical emergencies,” said Bittner.

Three Golden Rules
THiA recommends that Canadians do the following to have carefree vacations:

  1. Understand your travel insurance policy – Insurance providers have staff available to answer any questions related to policies
  2. Know your health and consult a health care provider if you have any questions
  3. Know your trip – How long will you be gone? Are you a snowbird? Will you be travelling many times during the year? Do you plan to scuba dive? Some policies will be more suitable for you than others

The THiA website has a guide available to help Canadians understand their travel insurance needs before they investigate policies.

About the Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA)
Founded in 1998, the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) is the national organization representing travel insurers, brokers, underwriters, re-insurers, emergency assistance companies, air ambulance companies and allied services in the travel insurance field. THiA is the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canada and is engaged in public education and issues relating to regulatory affairs and member communications.

SOURCE Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA)

For further information: For more information, to speak to a THiA spokesperson, or for more statistics, please contact: Pascale Gordon, 416-342-1814, Pascale.gordon@mediaprofile.com

If you really wish to become a penniless pensioner just fall ill abroad without any travel insurance

Read more

Skipping travel insurance when travelling within Canada could cost you

Angela Mulholland, | CTV News

The experience of an Alberta mother who is facing a hefty air ambulance bill after prematurely giving birth in Ontario should be a lesson to all Canadians about their need for travel insurance — even while travelling within Canada, says one expert.

Amy Savill, from High Prairie, Alta., went into labour two months early while vacationing in Ontario last month. The hospital where she gave birth was not equipped to handle an infant as premature as Savill’s, so they were airlifted to a larger facility in Sudbury.

Savill received a bill for the flight Monday, and while she won’t disclose the exact amount, she says it’s “in the thousands of dollars.” She says it never occurred to her that she might need travel insurance within her own country.

But Robin Ingle, the CEO of Ingle International, Novus Health, and Intrepid 24/7, says most Canadians are unaware that not all their medical expenses are covered by the provincial health plans.

“I don’t think a lot of Canadians understand there are gaps in a lot of areas. Air evacuations are one, land ambulances are another — anything outside of core services may not be covered,” he said.

Ingle, who has worked in the insurance industry for over 35 years, says when Canadians get sick outside their province, most of their medical costs are covered through reciprocal agreements between the provinces, although each province has different agreements.

But he says when it comes to air ambulances, which are generally run by private companies, Canadians almost always have to foot the bill.

Canadians may want to consider buying travel insurance when travelling outside their provinces, Ingle advises. That would avoid a $30,000 air ambulance bill if, for example, they have to be airlifted to Vancouver after getting injured skiing in Whistler.

Ingle says such inter-province insurance is usually easy to get, even for those with existing medical conditions, but he says it’s important to ask questions to ensure that air evacuations are covered.

Some Canadians might also have travel insurance from their employee benefit plans, but Ingle warns they might have restrictions requiring employees to seek permission before undergoing air evacuations.

“You have to ask your HR people within your company, your benefit administrator. You have to be a good consumer and ask some questions,” he says, while also advising getting everything in writing.

READ MORE HERE: Skipping travel insurance when travelling within Canada could cost you

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest