Did You Know You Could Check Your Wine for Free With Alaska Airlines?

Alaska Airlines offers to check a case of wine for free (even for general members) on flights departing Sonoma County airport in California, Pasco/Tri-Cities, Walla Walla and Yakima in Washington state, and any airport in Oregon.

Apparently wineries found that checked baggage fees were a stopper for out of state passengers who didn’t want to make wine purchases and then have to add a cost to transport the wine home.

Some wines of course are much more accessible at a winery, others can be obtained at home or by mail, and the checked bag fees can flip the calculation of whether it’s worth schlepping as well and emotionally grate on the customer.

As a result of the program, Alasks has gone from checking 2 cases of wine per week per participating airport to 30 — and that’s without the program having widespread consumer awareness.

Do it for the Points wrote about the program, based on a a CNBC article which claims the program generates $250,000 – $500,000 in incremental sales a month during peak season in Walla Walla, Washington alone.

I think that’s an exaggeration. If we assumed that each of the 3 participating Washington state airports shipped an incremental 28 cases per month, and every one of those cases originated in Walla Walla rather than other wine regions of the state, then Walla Walla wineries would at most be selling an extra 84 cases. While it’s likely not even half of this amount, if the average case was $480 then 84 cases would amount to $40,320 — a far cry from half a million, but still meaningful.

Many wineries now apparently waive tasting fees (in regions where such a fee is customary) for Alaska Airlines passengers who show a boarding pass stub.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Alaska’s baggage policy page says “Customers departing from Pasco (PSC), Santa Rosa (STS), Walla Walla (ALW), or Yakima (YKM) airports are allowed to check one properly packaged box of wine (with up to twelve standard 750 ml. bottles in one case) without charge for domestic itineraries.” It does not mention Oregon airports.

  2. The quote references cases per week, not per month, so you’re actually looking at 124 additional cases checked per month at the one airport cited, which sums to $178,560 using your assumptions. That makes the $250k figure more plausible in peak season, but I am skeptical of half a million as well.

  3. We just came back from a trip to Oregon for a food festival, and while we didn’t end up using the checked wine benefit, we did enjoy the free tastings at some of the best wineries in the Willamette Valley! We saved over $50 on tasting fees (would have saved more if both of us drank but someone had to drive!) Alaska is doing this as a limited time promotion in Oregon from 9/10-11/20.


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