Stuck Waiting at the Baggage Carousel? You May Be Entitled to Miles.

Both Alaska and Delta have a 20-minute baggage guarantee

Luggage on a conveyor belt in an airport. If you're stuck waiting at a baggage carousel, you may be entitled to miles from your airline.
Finally, an upside to waiting for your luggage.

There’s nothing worse than the shattering of all hope that stems from arriving to your destination on time (or even early), deplaning without a hitch and cruising through passport control…only to wind up getting stuck waiting an exorbitant amount of time at the baggage carousel. (Assuming your luggage arrived with you — the alternative being exponentially worse.)

But as fate would have it, you may be able to cash in on that wait time. That’s because, as Afar recently explained, some airlines — Alaska and Delta chief among them — actually offer what is called a 20-minute baggage guarantee.

Here’s how it works: if your bag isn’t on the carousel within 20 minutes of your aircraft’s door opening, you’re eligible to receive 2,500 miles from Delta, and either 2,500 miles or a $25 travel voucher from Alaska. The caveat is that the airlines don’t typically go out of their way to ensure that you’re compensated for time spent waiting for luggage, so the onus tends to fall on you, the passenger. That said, it’s still apparently pretty easy.

“If, after 20 minutes, your bag hasn’t hit the conveyor belt, find an Alaska customer service agent,” Bailey Berg writes. “They’ll ask to see your checked baggage receipt and will typically provide a paper voucher with a code that can be used to claim miles or money for future flights. It’s the responsibility of the traveler to visit Alaska’s online baggage service guarantee to input their information (name, date of travel, arrival city and the authorization code on the voucher) and select whether they’d prefer to shop now with the $25 credit, have a $25 discount code added to their Alaska Airlines account for future use, or deposit 2,500 miles into their Mileage Plan Account.”

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At that point, you just have to hit the “claim” button and either the miles or the money will automatically show up. If the airport doesn’t utilize paper vouchers, the agent will manually add miles to your account. For its part, Delta does everything online.

“Travelers whose bags lagged in getting to them need to go to within three days of the completion of the flight to file a mileage request,” Berg adds. “If approved, the miles should hit the traveler’s account within two weeks.”

The one downside is that you must be a Delta SkyMiles member prior to your flight to receive your reward. In other words, you can’t create an account after your bag doesn’t show up within the 20-minute timeframe. Starting February 1, though, Delta will be offering free inflight wifi to all SkyMiles members, so if you needed an extra incentive to sign up — there you go. You’re welcome.


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