Planes, Trains and Travel Insurance
Updated: Jan 29, 2019
We all know those people who opt out of insurance for their appliances or laugh at the rental car agencies when offered extra insurance for their vehicles or maybe you're that person? Well, now is not the time to be that person. Travel insurance is an inexpensive way to avoid very expensive mishaps. We talked to our amazing AAA agent about medical and travel insurance and she suggested Allianz insurance company. Our medical insurance was only $50 and our travel insurance was only $85 for our flights from LA to Iceland to France to Athens and they are worth every penny. When we were signing up, it just seemed like one of those things you do and get out of the way because, although you won't need it, it's good to have it right!? Wrong. We needed it. We needed it real bad. Luckily we haven't needed our medical insurance yet but our travel insurance came in handy sooner rather than later.
There were numerous strikes going on while we were traveling through Paris. The biggest affect the strikes had on our trip was missing our flight to Greece, where we had a house sitting gig set up. As I am writing this from Greece, rest assured we still made it but not when we were supposed to. Our last day in Paris started out great and we were having an amazing time exploring the city as our flight wasn't supposed to leave until 8 that night. After having a quick lunch with my family, we said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel to grab our bags and catch the train to the airport. After maneuvering through the station and all the way down to our stop with a huge suitcase and two backpacks each (no easy feat, let me tell you) we made it to our first train. We were doing so great on time, we were scheduled to get there 2 hours before our flight was supposed to leave. So how did we end up getting there 3 minutes after they stopped checking bags you ask?? Well, the strikes struck again.
We were on our first train for triple the amount of time we were supposed to be on there. We were flying down the tracks until suddenly we were not. The train came to a halt in the middle of the tunnel and stayed there. There were no announcements about what was happening so to calm my overactive imagination, I tried reading people's faces for worry but got nothing (they're so cool out there). Ryan and I just looked at each other as the air got hotter and thicker. All of the luggage we had was getting quite heavy and in that moment, I realized why people only travel with one carry on each. Many lessons were learned on this evening. So there we were, watching the time tick away and knowing there was nothing we could do about it when finally after over 30 minutes, the train started moving. We immediately turned into that Julia Roberts meme, trying to calculate how much time we had left to make it to the second train and to the airport. My worry was juuust about to subside, when the train stopped again. It played a fun stop and go game with us for about 15 more minutes before we finally made it to the next stop. As soon as the doors opened people in red vests with megaphones were shouting in French for us to exit the train. I don't actually know what they were saying as we are still trying to learn French but everybody was getting off so that seemed to be the general idea. Everyone was running around every which way except us. We were just standing there with all of our luggage looking quite confused because that was not supposed to be the final stop of that train and we didn't know where to go. One of the people in the vests, bless her heart, came over and told us no more trains were coming from there due to the strike and we would have to go up a floor and find another train to the airport. Upstairs there were so many options for trains and they were all going different routes than normal to accommodate the strikes . We read one of the signs wrong and ended up on the wrong side of the tracks (whoops). Had it not been for a girl who knew enough English/Spanish to match my English/Spanish we most likely would've still been there. She kindly explained that the trains weren't running their normal routes and told us which train to catch. There were so many displaced people from the other trains discontinuing their routes, that we had to wait for the third train on that line to come before finding enough room for us and all the Von Trapp children's luggage we were traveling with. Seriously, I almost just threw one of the bags away. The train we were initially supposed to catch to the airport was a more direct train, but this one made about 8 stops in between the station and the airport, eating up what little time we had left to make it to our flight early.
Ah the airport! Finally! And boarding was just starting so everything was ok or so we thought. We had to catch a shuttle to our terminal and just as we reached the platform, the shuttle left... So we waited 3 minutes for the next one and sprinted (well as fast as our luggage would allow) to the gate, where the attendant was just finishing closing up. It was such a disheartening moment. We pleaded with her to add our bag but there was nothing she could do, as she kept repeating and we were told to head to the ticket counter for our options. By the time we got to the front of the line at the counter, our flight was taking off. The attendant told us no other flights were leaving that night, our tickets were not transferable and there was nothing she could do. I could no longer hold back the tears. Ryan and I sat in the empty terminal on our laptop for a couple of hours trying to figure out our options. After finally finding flights for the day after the next one, we decided we should probably leave the airport. We paid for a taxi because we were not about to try our luck with the train again and headed to my parents hotel for the night. On the way we tried to focus on the bright side, we got to spend a whole extra day in Paris. We tried not to focus on the fact that we would have to pay for an airbnb the next night, the taxi we were in, new plane tickets (which my parents helped us out with, amen) and an uber to the airport.
Now back to the travel insurance and how $85 saved us over $500. When we finally got to Greece and got settled in, we sent our claim about the trip, with supporting documents and very detailed information to the insurance company. We weren't actually expecting much, if anything but Allianz is an amazing company and completed our claim and reimbursed us within a month. Do you know what a blessing it is to see money you thought you had lost, money that you had to budget out of your trip get put back into your account?? Suddenly that night was something we could laugh about. We were no longer over budget on the Paris portion of our trip and that was something to celebrate (Greek wine anyone?) Cut to now, we have about 5 flights booked with an airline in September. They are currently dealing with strikes and have recently cancelled over 600 flights. It's not comforting and we are watching closely and hoping it gets resolved. If we are affected though, it is comforting to know it won't drain our account and mess our budget up. Trip insurance, don't leave home without it kids!