How We Missed out on 10,000 Free Alaska Miles

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We flew Alaska Airlines to Seattle to start our big holiday ski trip to Whistler the night after Christmas. Obviously traveling with kids the day after such a big event meant that we were all a bit more tired than usual. Doing it at bedtime meant the girls were even more tired than they would have been during the day. This sleepiness can be a good thing for in-flight naps, but it will often make things harder upon landing. Everyone did well on the flight, but landing in Seattle hours after their normal bedtimes made for what looked a bit like an episode of The Walking Dead as made our way through the airport. Everyone was being tough, but our goal was simply to get to the hotel as soon as possible.


Snoozing on the plane

But first, we had to wait for our multiple large bags filled with bulky ski clothing and such at baggage claim. The good news for our tired kiddos was that there was an inordinate number of dogs walking through the Seattle airport to keep them entertained, but the bad news was that the minutes of sitting on the floor waiting for Josh to return with the checked bags were ticking by slowly. Very slowly. Or, more accurately, more minutes than we expected passed before the bags were offloaded from the Alaska Airlines plane.

Alaska Airlines has a pretty unique baggage policy where if your checked bags aren’t out on the baggage carousel within 20 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate, then you can get 2,500 free Alaska Airlines miles or a $25 discount code to use on a future Alaska Airlines flight. I knew that this policy existed, but while sitting there holding a tired baby on the floor of the airport, the last thing I was thinking about doing was heading to the baggage office to get help with compensation for our slightly delayed bags once they ultimately came off the plane. Instead, my priority was getting us to the hotel and into bed. I wasn’t timing it, so I don’t know exactly how long it took for the bags to come out, but I would guess at least 30+ minutes. That isn’t terrible, but it is more than the 20 minute guarantee. 

Part of our mountain of bags before checking in for our flight

I didn’t think of the issue again until recently when I happened upon this post that indicated perhaps you don’t have to talk to anyone at the airport to use the Alaska Airlines baggage guarantee. In this case, the writer of that article just took a snapshot of the bags coming out with a time stamp on his iPhone and then tweeted the image to @AlaskaAir. That sufficed for the compensation of 2,500 miles per passenger. In our case, the four bags would have presumably been a cumulative 10,000 Alaska miles (one per person) had we made the claim.

The terms of the guarantee do say you need to make the claim within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival and that you can speak to a customer service agent at the airport. I (wrongly) assumed that meant we had to do it in the airport, but if you aren’t able to take the time to talk to anyone at the airport, sending a tweet apparently may do the trick.

There are some clauses to the bag guarantee such as a limit of one per passenger per flight and it not applying to odd-sized or oversized items, but for the most part, the guarantee is straight-forward and worth using if you get the chance.

In other words, don’t make the same mistake we did and accidentally miss out on thousands of free and relatively easy Alaska miles if your bags don’t come out within the promised 20 minutes.

Head here to learn more about available credit cards and their bonuses.

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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  1. Contact Alaska listens, they are pretty good about taking care of these things.

    For my family of 5, we always check bags even if we do not need to just to get these 2500 miles certs. I got around 30k miles last year just from the coupons (bags are always late at ANC).

  2. Delta has the same policy. If bags are not out within 20 minutes you get 2,500 miles. But they give you 3 days after your flight to submit the form. To be honest Delta has been superb and even after flying 65 segments with them last year I did not have a chance to use this policy as the bags were always out within 20 minutes.

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