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Loyalty Rewarded: These Two Airlines Give Passengers a Little Extra for Late Baggage Delivery

Two airlines are offering to deliver passenger luggage from arrival gate to carousel in 20 minutes … or else?

by Lark Gould

April 10, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Drew Taylor / Unsplash

You are at a major airport waiting for your bags. Twenty minutes go by, then 40, and you are still waiting for the first suitcase to lumber out from the black hole from where bags miraculously appear.

Are you waiting for the punchline here? Unfortunately, there is none. But there is a little light of hope shed by Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines, who feel your pain and are willing to match it with … points. Both airlines came out with a 20-minute bags-to-passenger guarantee, beyond which passengers can qualify for a small bump in loyalty points.

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

Delta will give you 2,500 SkyMiles if your checked bags don’t land on the carousel within 20 minutes of arrival. Alaska allows you to choose either 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan bonus miles or a $25 travel voucher toward future Alaska flights.

That means if your checked bag isn’t bumping along on the baggage carousel within 20 minutes of your aircraft’s door opening, you are entitled to a bit of kindness on these airlines.

What’s the Catch?

Naturally, there is a small catch. With Delta, you must fly domestically (including Puerto Rico) on a Delta Air Lines or a Delta Connection flight. Codeshares or partner airlines are not included in this offer unless the final flight of the itinerary is on a DL-coded and DL-operated aircraft.

Delta Air Lines at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport / Photo: Kate Scott/Shutterstock

Additionally, you must be a SkyMiles member and include your SkyMiles number on your ticket reservation. And you have to fill out a claim form online to collect your bonus miles. You must submit the claim form by three days after your flight’s arrival and allow up to two weeks for bonus miles to show up in your account (the account must belong to the passenger, not a company or other entity).

Pay Off for Input

Does it pay off to put in? For starters, submitting the claim form is quick, streamlined, and straightforward. Reports of what often amounts to subterfuge by companies who want to look good while making it nearly impossible for a customer actually to make good on a value proposition are not to be found.

Photo: Courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Is it worth it? According to some valuation estimates, Delta SkyMiles are generally worth between $0.01 and $0.03 per mile when redeemed for travel. Thus, 2,500 miles can amount to between $25 and $75, adding to a nice stockpile of mounting SkyMiles.

Note the reimbursements are per trip, not per bag, and trips on these published fares may have been paid in cash or SkyMiles. For those who paid fees to check those bags, there is also an option to get those fees reimbursed, especially after an extended wait time for those bags.

Alaska Adds an Option

Alaska Airlines has had a 20-minute baggage guarantee in place for over a decade, offering a $25 voucher if the offending bag delay is reported within two hours of the incident.

“We know that instead of waiting at baggage claim, you’d rather be out enjoying your destination, or settling in back at home. That’s why we are committed to getting you on your way faster, and we’ve been making that commitment for years,” says the published note on Alaska’s website.

Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Airlines

“Since 2010 we have put a guarantee behind our baggage delivery. If your bags are not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate, we’ll offer you a $25 discount code for use on a future Alaska Airlines flight, or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ bonus miles,” it continues. “In the rare instance that we don’t meet our 20-minute guarantee, just get ahold of us at the baggage office within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival for your discount code or miles. You can simply speak with one of our customer service agents at the airport.”

Advice by points pundits over Alaska’s baggage options: take the voucher. They act like cash and don’t depreciate with each points policy adjustment made by the airline.

Catches? There are a few:

  • Alaska Airlines reserves the right to suspend the baggage service guarantee in the event of airport baggage system malfunction, severe weather, or other conditions out of the airline’s control that prohibit timely baggage delivery.
  • One baggage service guarantee voucher per qualified passenger, per flight, for one or more checked bags.
  • Baggage service guarantee voucher must be redeemed at by the date provided on the voucher.
  • Baggage service guarantee vouchers are not transferable
  • A $25 discount code must be applied at toward purchasing a ticket on Alaska Airlines by the date provided within the terms and conditions printed on the voucher. Not redeemable at ticket counters or through travel agents. And, of course, “additional terms & conditions apply.”
  • A second piece of advice: fly light.