Quick Points: Get bonus miles when your checked bags arrive late

Jun 24, 2022

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There are downsides to checking your luggage. Namely, it can sometimes take an extremely long time for a bag to arrive at a carousel — or, even worse, it may never show up at all.

Most of the time, your bags do eventually arrive. However, if it takes more than 20 minutes from when your flight arrives at the gate to when the bag hits the carousel, you may be eligible for compensation — if you are flying Alaska Airlines and Delta.

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What is a 20-minute baggage guarantee?

Alaska baggage guarantee
(Screenshot from alaskaair.com)

On most domestic Alaska and Delta flights, you are guaranteed to have your luggage at the carousel within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate. If your luggage isn’t at the carousel within 20 minutes, you’ll be compensated.

Of course, there are terms of the guarantee that are important to keep in mind. We have a full guide that goes through the ins and outs of the 20-minute baggage guarantee on both airlines. But one key term is that you only get compensated at the pre-determined rate once, regardless of the number of bags you’ve checked.

Related: I always check a bag – and I’m proud to admit it

How much compensation is offered?

Bags on time Delta
(Screenshot from delta.com)

Assuming you meet the terms of the guarantee, both airlines offer similar compensation amounts, which have been pre-set.

Delta offers you 2,500 SkyMiles (worth $35.25 based on TPG valuations).

With Alaska, you will be given either 2,500 Mileage Plan miles (worth $45) or a $25 discount code for use on a future Alaska Airlines flight. Even though the miles are “worth” more, I would personally opt for the discount code as Alaska miles have been losing value and I would rather have straight cash off my next flight.

Related: How to avoid checked baggage fees on major domestic airlines

How do I get the compensation?

Delta form for late luggage
Delta has a simple form to fill out if your bags arrived late. (Screenshot from delta.com)

Applying for compensation is easier with Delta than Alaska. Delta has a dedicated baggage guarantee landing page on its website with a simple form to fill out. After filling in the seven required fields, you can submit the form and a Delta customer care representative will review the case. If approved, you’ll immediately have 2,500 SkyMiles deposited to your account.

Alaska, on the other hand, requires you to speak to a customer service representative at the airport within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival. The last thing that any traveler wants to do is get in a baggage service line after already waiting over 20 minutes for their luggage. Hopefully, Alaska will soon provide a simple form like Delta to apply for compensation without having to speak with an Alaska employee in the airport.

Bottom line

You may be able to easily score some extra miles or a discount code the next time that your luggage is late on Delta or Alaska. Don’t forget that there are plenty of ways that you can avoid baggage fees on Delta and on Alaska. Whether or not you paid to check your bag, you’re still eligible for compensation if your bag is late.

As a frequent Delta traveler, TPG points and miles editor Andrew Kunesh has been able to earn around 25,000 SkyMiles from late luggage on Delta flights in the last several years. That’s enough miles for a one-way flight from New York City to São Paulo, Brazil on LATAM.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

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