How Much is an Alaska 20 Minute Bag Guarantee Really Worth?

We just spent a fantastic weekend visiting Yellowstone National Park. Naturally, we flew Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Bozeman since I still have to requalify MVP Gold 75K for the year.

The flight is operated by Horizon Air in one of their prop planes, which sadly means no first class upgrades and a lot less space on your overhead bins, so watch your carry on sizes. As we’ve taken this flight a total of 5 times, three of which were this year, we’re quite familiar with it by now.

Alaska Baggage Service

Alaska Baggage Service

We always check our bags when we fly Alaska. I don’t care for dragging my bag through crowded airports, and it’s free of charge if you either have the BoA Alaska Airlines credit card (first bag free), are an elite frequent flier or are flying first class (two free bags).

For flights like this Horizon Air to Bozeman, we especially check our bags knowing that even if you gate check it, the bags WILL NOT be given to you plane side as it’s usually the case for a la cart service. They are instead placed on the baggage carousel along with all of the checked luggage, which means you will invariably need to wait for your bags.

Airports with smaller operations mean the chances of your bags taking longer than 20 minutes to deliver are pretty high. We fly Alaska a lot and we can pretty much tell in advance which destinations are late almost all the time. Bozeman is one of those.

Why I ALWAYS check my bags

After years of being MVP Gold 75K with Alaska, I’ve learned a few things. One of them is knowing which small operations airports are almost guaranteed to take longer than 20 minutes to deliver my bags to me.

After a twitter discussion with Rocky from Travel Codex in which he explained he didn’t see it worth his time to claim the Alaska 20-minute Bag Guarantee benefit, I decided to -as I always do- pull some numbers to make sure my rational was solid.

In short, the premise of the 20-minute Bag Guarantee is if you don’t receive your bag in under 20 minutes, Alaska will issue either a $25 dollar discount or 2500 miles. For more info on this benefit refer to our previous post about it.

If you value Alaska Mileage Plan miles at 2 cents each (and lord knows I don’t, since we’re able to obtain WAAAAAY more value than just that), it means that you’re getting at least a $50 value in exchange for waiting past the 20 minute mark.

I know, I know. You’ll tell me you also had to wait to drop bags at checkin, and you would be correct. Honestly, I have never experienced a wait longer than 5-10 minutes because I use the First Class checkin counters. On days I don’t want to interact with humans much, I self tag my bag at home and just drop it off, virtually wait free.

Of all the times I have had to wait past the 20 minute mark, I have never waited more than an extra 10 minutes. If we add it all up, that’s a max of 10 minutes to drop off, 20 mins to qualify for this guarantee, and let’s add another 10 to account for really slow baggage handling.

Alaska is offering me (and you) a total of 2500 miles in exchange for 40 minutes of my time (20 of which I would have had to wait anyway).

Is it really worth my time?

Well, let’s do the math. Twenty five hundred miles times two cents each, over 40 minutes results in HECK YEAH IT IS. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen lots of jobs that pay $75 dollars an hour to do so little.

Alaska’s bag tag

Conclusion

Yes, it really is worth your time to claim the 20 minute bag guarantee, especially if:

  • You want to check your bags to your destination.
  • You don’t have to pay to check your luggage.
  • You are not in an absolute hurry to get to your destination.
  • You are carrying items not allowed in carry on.
  • You don’t mind getting extra miles the airline is willing to issue for not exceeding their service expectations.

Also note Alaska Airlines isn’t the only one with an offer for a 20-minute bag guarantee; Delta has one too.

Do you consider this benefit worth your time?

Author: Ben Nickel-D'Andrea

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3 Comments

  1. $75 to wait an hour isn’t worth it for me. But based on those numbers, since you had to check your bag anyways, it’s really more like a 10 min wait above normal to get those points. So a much better return.

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Hal! You don’t have to wait an hour, I never ever ever experienced that long a wait. It’s a rate of $75 an hour if you consider Alaska Mileage Plan miles worth 2 cents each, which in my view is a gross underestimation.

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  2. I like Alaska and use them whenever I can (I am gold member) but slowly they are taking away the perks that would set them apart from other airlines.
    One recent one being the price quarantee. Which doesn’t exist anymore more for tickets bought after September 1st.😪

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