Alaska’s 20 Minute Bag Guarantee Explained

Alaska Airlines is one of the most customer friendly airlines I’ve ever had the pleasure of flying. One of their most underutilized and perhaps most awesome benefits is the 20 minute bag guarantee. The number of people who I see who don’t bother to take advantage of it even though they’re entitled to is is mind blowing. Here’s your go to guide to Alaska Airlines’ 20 minute Bag Guarantee!

After a long flight, the worst experience possible is standing around the baggage carousel waiting for your luggage to arrive. There’s no one to talk to to find out where your bags are, no way to see if your baggage has made it off the plane, you’re just waiting. That’s why I love Alaska’s 20 minute bag guarantee.

What is the bag guarantee?

It’s very simple at its core. If your bags aren’t on the carousel within 20 minutes of the arrival at the gate, you get either 2500 miles or $25 for use on a future flight! Easy as that! As soon as the plane arrives at the gate and stops its forward motion, the “ding” comes on to remove your seat belt, and start the stopwatch. From that point on, you’ve got 19 minutes and 59 seconds. If it’s not in your hand in the baggage area by then, you win!

Alaska’s new electronic bag tag – courtesy of Alaska Airline’s blog

Miles or Money?

Let’s say that it’s been 21 minutes and you’re ready to claim your prize. Which should you choose? The miles, or the money?

The $25 discount code can’t be combined with any other discounts or promotions, so you won’t be able to use your companion certificate along with this. Wait, you do have a companion certificate, right? If not, stop reading and go here.

The miles add up pretty quickly, so we always opt for the miles. 2500 miles isn’t a small amount. It’s just one step closer to getting you to that free flight you’re so after.

Alaska Baggage Service

But, I don’t wanna check my bag

Most people think that it is too much of a hassle to check a bag because of the time involved. We’ve tracked the average time it takes for the whole process, and you’d be surprised at the results.

Plane to Baggage Carousel: Average of 14 minutes
Bags to Carousel: Average of 18 minutes

So, if the average time is 18 minutes, chances are you’re not going to get any miles or money, right? Well, you’d be surprised the number of times that we get our voucher. So far this year, we’ve racked up 32,500 miles thanks to the bag guarantee! You got it right, that’s 13 times that the bags have come out past the 20 minutes.

Alaska Baggage Service

The easiest cities to get the reward

Seattle is usually pretty good about getting their bags on time. So is Portland. Those two main cities, being the hubs for the airlines, usually have their act together. The outstations are where its at. We’ve found that the four D cities are almost guaranteed to get you a voucher!

  • Detroit: slow baggage handling service, and it’s a far drive from the gate to the carousel. Average time 28 minutes
  • Dulles: Another issue with the bag carousel being far from the gate, and the plane arrives in rush hour so I’d imagine that it’s pretty busy for them. Average time 23 minutes.
  • Dallas: for some reason, they can’t get their act together. It’s slow and the people don’t seem to motivated to work. Average time 21 minutes
  • Denver: oooooh, Denver. This airport is huge, and Alaska parks their planes the farthest possible from the bag carousel. When you land in C concourse, you’ve got to take the train to B, then to A, then to the Main Terminal. Imagine you taking a train 10 minutes to get your bags, and now imagine someone driving behind the scenes with bags in town. Average time 26 minutes.
  • San Francisco: This one is hit or miss. They’re SOOOOO close but yet it still counts. The three times that I’ve used the bag guarantee in San Fran it’s been at 20:45, 21:02, and 20:59. If they would have had the bags come out at the beginning instead of at the end, we wouldn’t have used the guarantee.

Checked baggage from Google Images

How to get your voucher?

If you’ve found that you need the voucher, just go over to the baggage office and tell them that you need to take advnatege of the guarantee. They’ll ask for your luggage tag and if you know, how long it’s taken for the bags. They’ll hand you a piece of paper when you can enter a code onto a website. The miles will be deposited instantly to your account. Voila!

I’ve spoken to many people in the bag area who have said that they simply didn’t want to feel as if they were bothering someone or inconveniencing the baggage agent. With the exception of Detroit (I’m looking at you, Chanel…) everyone has been very willing to hand over vouchers and apologetic for the delays.

Has anyone had any good or bad experiences with the bag guarantee?

Author: Jon Nickel-D'Andrea

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  1. Does this apply now to virgin america flights?

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  2. It is a little more difficult on evening flights and you can’t find any representative. I am speaking to you Houston.

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    • Hahaha – no worries. The same happened in Detroit at 5am. I just called the 1800 and the applied it for me over the phone.

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    • I’ve found the same in Detroit early morning. If you call the 1800 number they can apply for you, or tweet at them!

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  3. I just flew Alaska down to Zihuatanejo and enjoyed the experience.  I rarely check bags, but it is good to know about this 20-minute guarantee.

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  4. We arrived in Austin after midnight and our bags were 40 minutes late. No one was around so I called and left a msg with Alaska airlines (no one was answering phones). Sent emails the next day. 20 days later got a reply that said they wouldn’t honor this because I didn’t contact an agent at the gate. Very disappointed in the lack of service.

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    • Geri – I’d like to be able to help you with this. Would you write in to us? We can help you get those miles. That’s not the correct attitude they should have taken.

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  5. Bags were way over 20 min late into Orlando. Went to baggage services and was told to put my email address on a long list with other travelers. Never got an email with voucher info. Chatted on the computer with a cistern service agent who couldn’t help me. He gave me the baggage number to call which I did and after waiting TWO hours, I was told that it was not the correct baggage number. So I waited another hour. It seems like they are trying to run a scam and make it too time consuming and aggravating to get the $25.

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    • Here’s the great part. Tweet at Alaska airlines and you’ll have your miles in your account in under five minutes.

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