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Does My Credit Card Cover Cancellations Due to War or Military Action?

March 07, 2019
4 min read
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"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Senior Points & Miles Contributor Ethan Steinberg.

After a tense couple of days that saw Pakistan shut down its airspace during an escalating conflict with India, the situation has slowly improved, and Pakistani airspace is once again open to commercial flights. Unfortunately, many people who had travel plans last week saw their flights cancelled or diverted, and TPG reader Hasham wants to know if his credit card's travel insurance policy would cover him for an upcoming trip to the region.

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[pullquote source="TPG READER HASHAM"]I have a flight booked from the US to Pakistan in a few weeks. Do airlines cancel tickets and provide refunds if they can't fly to a country due to war or war-like situations like what's going on between India and Pakistan? What about travel insurance?[/pullquote]

Let's start with the easiest part of Hasham's question: whether travel insurance would cover him in the event of a cancellation. While he didn't specify which card he used to book, let's assume he picked a card with a comprehensive travel insurance policy like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card® from American Express. While the Sapphire Reserve is widely considered to be the best card for travel insurance, Chase explicitly identifies both declared and undeclared wars as events that are not covered.

The Amex Platinum might be a better choice for booking flights due to its 5x bonus category on airfare purchased directly with the airline. However, it doesn't provide any coverage for trip delays or cancellations.

As far as third-party travel insurance goes, there's no way to know for sure, as different policies contain different provisions for what is (and is not) covered. If you've purchased additional travel insurance, you'd need to read the fine print to see if wars would be considered a covered event.

The first part of Hasham's question is a little tougher to answer, as it varies heavily case by case. Military engagement between two countries (or non-state actors) can take a number of different forms, and not all of them warrant the closure of airspace and the cancellation of flights. In this case, the conflict between India and Pakistan included a number of military aircraft being shot down, so it was easy to err on the side of caution and keep commercial aircraft away from this area.

As another example, despite the political unrest and violence in Venezuela, American Airlines is still operating commercial flights from Miami to Caracas, even after US diplomats were ordered to leave the country (a demand that has since been retracted). If the airline were to cancel the flight you could expect some form of refund, either in the form of cash or a travel voucher to use towards a future trip, but it's impossible to predict how any airline might choose to handle a given conflict situation.

If a carrier is unable to get you to your destination in a timely manner for any reason, it should make every effort to reroute you. If your flight is ultimately cancelled and the airline is unable to accommodate you, you should be entitled to a refund, as you didn't receive the transportation for which you paid. However, in an ever-evolving situation like tensions between two countries, there's no way to definitively know how an airline would handle it in advance.

Bottom Line

India and Pakistan have (thankfully) been able to de-escalate the recent conflict without progressing to an all-out war. While commercial flights have resumed to and over the affected areas, there's no way to know whether this will hold. Hopefully Hasham's flights will remain unaffected, but if they are, the carrier should do what it can to accommodate him.

This incident serves as an important reminder: In the event of war, military engagement or terrorist attacks, don't expect your credit card's travel insurance to cover you if your flights are cancelled or delayed. If you're traveling to an area that's especially prone to violence or instability, this might be a good time to consider buying supplementary insurance to specifically address these possibilities, though again, you'd want to read the policy carefully to ensure you're covered.

Thanks for the question, Hasham, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by LightRocket via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases