Alaska Airlines Refusing To Honor Checked Baggage Delivery Guarantee

You’d think an operation called Alaska Airlines would be able to handle cooler temperatures, however Seattle has been chilly and it’s dragged down the carrier’s on-time performance. Alaska cancelled 9% of its flights on Saturday, and 27% of its flights were delayed. The overnight low was 32 degrees, and temperatures hit just 45 degrees by 1 p.m.

That’s unfortunate, but at least customers aren’t going to have to wait for their checked bags. After all, Alaska Airlines advertises a 20 minute checked baggage guarantee.

We know that instead of waiting at baggage claim you’d rather be out enjoying your destination, or settling in back at home. That’s why we are committed to getting you on your way faster, and we’ve been making that commitment for years.

Since 2010 we have put a guarantee behind our baggage delivery. If your bags are not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate, we’ll offer you a $25 discount code for use on a future Alaska Airlines flight, or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ bonus miles.

In the rare instance that we don’t meet our 20 minute guarantee, just get ahold of us at the baggage office within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival for your discount code or miles.

Passengers have been faced with cascading lost baggage issues, and are met with this sign when they go for help letting them know they won’t be receiving compensation (sic):

Due to irregular opperations we will not be honnering our 20 minute baggage guarntee at this time.. sorry for the inconvenice.

Photo By Seattle-Based Passenger

The terms and conditions of the guarantee gives them this out:

Alaska Airlines reserves the right to suspend the baggage service guarantee in the event of airport baggage system malfunction, severe weather, or other conditions out of the airlines’ control that prohibit timely baggage delivery.

On the one hand a force majeure clause doesn’t seem unreasonable. On the other hand, this reads as ‘we guarantee to deliver bags within 20 minutes, except when we aren’t able to deliver bags in 20 minutes.’ I reached out to Alaska Airlines for comment, and will update this post if they respond.

(HT: R.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. As much as anyone (or everyone) complains, if the revenue needle doesn’t move, it doesn’t matter.

  2. I would be embarrassed to stand behind a counter with that sign in front of me. Did no one point out to him the glaring misspellings?

  3. Did their sign actually say “honnering” instead of honoring? If so, not only are they unable to honor their baggage delivery promise, they can’t spell.

  4. After 1 hour waiting for my bag in Seattle they gave me the same song and dance
    IrRegular operations.But that was without bad weather.They had to many flights arriving and departing
    At another airport after waiting 30 minutes for my luggage the lost luggage Dept said you are the only one that asked! She resisted all the way
    Another airport said you have only been waiting 35 minutes
    I replied yes I know but it’s a 20 minute guarantee
    Alaska has become more like the others and sadly it doesn’t stop with the baggage guarantee
    Covid did them in.It was a good airline while it lasted now it’s hit or miss most of the time
    Plan to cut flying them except in some rare cases 2023
    Their brand assurance customer experience has weakened severely

  5. BTW all our partner award pricing will be Sky rocketing soon
    Happy Holidays from all of us at irregular operations I mean Alaska Airlines

  6. This does not seem fair. Although Alaska’s worst day handling baggage beats most any day by American, in my experience.

  7. suppose the other airline with a hub in Seattle is honoring their 20 minute bag guarantee since their operations have not been the dumpster fire that Alaska’s are every December?

  8. While there are many legit complaints about Delta, their ‘20 minutes or 2500 miles’ bag claim process is entirely automated and can be done on your smartphone while waking out of the terminal. And the miles typically post before you leave airport property.

  9. DUE to irregular OPERATIONS we will not be HONORING our 20 minute baggage GUARANTEE at this time…sorry for the INCONVENIENCE.

    There. It’s fixed!

  10. Here is the real question: did they put that sign up for one day (possibly understandable)… or has it been up for weeks running?

    If the later, then it’s asnager trying to make their stats look better.

    Improvement though denial =/= impovement.

  11. beachmouse,
    Delta’s system to claim baggage delivery delays must be tied to its baggage tracking system that scans bags at each point – so their systems can quickly calculate the amount of time from arrival at the gate to bag arrival in baggage claim.

  12. I think it should be obvious to people that during weather delays Alaska Airlines can’t be held responsible. I don’t believe the Airline should promote such confusing & often unrealistic promises.

  13. @Tim Dunn,

    Yes, Delta’s system is tied to their baggage tracking system. It’s accurate at least to the minute. I’ve received the miles for a bag that arrived 22 minutes after the door opened and I’ve heard from others who have done so at 21 minutes. And the best part is that you don’t need to wait in an insane line at the baggage desk like with Alaska. Just fill out a form on Delta’s website and the miles are in your account within seconds in my experience.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason that Alaska isn’t honoring the guarantee in this case is actually just that they don’t want all of the people trying to claim the delayed baggage miles causing very long lines at the baggage desk for people who actually need to go there (e.g. missing or damaged bags.)

  14. It’s always been crap since they make you talk to an employee at the airport (who wants to do that?). Delta at least lets you fill out a form online.

    An airline that gave a damn would issue the miles automatically. None of the US airlines fall into that category.

  15. Alaska has long made it extremely u pleasant use their late baggage guarantee. Several times our bags have been 30 or 40 minutes late at SeaTac and the only way to access the guarantee was to wait another 30+ minutes in a long line to the single agent who could issue the reward. The bags are already late, so Alaska wants to delay you even more? Even worse is having to listen to the repeated self congratulatory announcements being played on the PA system about how great the Alaska guarantee is.

  16. I never fly Delta but if what I read is correct, the fact that they make it easy to receive points for lost luggage, while nice, isn’t much of a benefit since so many complain that their mileage points are pesos (not worth much).

  17. I have always had an issue with Alaska Airlines proclaiming this “guarantee” under normal circumstances that are not weather impacted. In my experience, when the bags are delivered late, there are also other circumstances that causes a very large queue to form at the baggage claim office and the last thing I want to do at the end of a long flight and delayed baggage is stand in a long line just to make this claim.

    It seems it would be quite easy to make guarantees that are difficult to get called in and use this lack of complaints as justification of success, which seems to be the case here.

  18. The guy behind the counter is kinda cute low key.
    He’s just trying to do his job not his fault.

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