Delta Air Lines Ending Checked Baggage Guarantee Program Next Month

Delta appears to be eliminating its checked baggage delivery guarantee (“Bags on Time”) program next month.

Customers could claim 2,500 miles whenever their bags failed to show up on the carousel within 20 minutes of arrival on a domestic flight. You could request the miles on your phone while standing at baggage claim, and in my experience claims were approved instantly.

When asked about an upcoming elimination of the checked baggage guarantee, a Delta Air Lines spokesperson wouldn’t deny it and only offered, “We have not made any announcement about a change to our program.” (I said in response, “well, if you’d made an announcement I wouldn’t be asking!”)

The person who shared this with me attributed it to the high cost of the program driven by awareness in viral TikTok videos and increasing ‘gaming’ of compensation.

@ecommjess How to get miles if your bags are late! What’s your LEAST favorite airline? #vacation #flights #pointsandmiles ♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

@erikakullberg What Delta doesn’t want you to know about delayed bags #lawyer #travel #money ♬ original sound – Money Lawyer Erika

However awareness always seemed high at baggage claim when Delta literally advertised it there:

In July 2009 Alaska Airlines introduced a Baggage Service Guarantee, offering miles or a discount on a future flight if bags took more than 25 minutes to arrive. A year later they reduced that to 20 minutes. (Oddly, Alaska’s website claims that their baggage guarantee was introduced in 2010, but that is not accurate.)

Delta, which competes directly with Alaska in Seattle, followed Alaska with its delivery commitment. Anecdotally passengers tell me they’ve been able to claim Delta’s guarantee more frequently than pre-pandemic. And Delta made it far easier to claim than Alaska – you actually have to go to Alaska’s baggage office within 2 hours of arrival to claim their miles or future discount. So the expected move may be a function of both Delta not being good enough at baggage delivery, and making compensation claims too easy to file.

Southwest (which includes checked bags with its fares), United, JetBlue and American do not offer any checked baggage delivery guarantees – which is unfortunate as bag fees rise. It would be nice to expect a performance standard at a cost that can now be as high as $45 for first checked bag.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. 100% because of people gaming the system.
    I have coworkers who claim their bags were late every single time because Delta doesn’t verify and just gives them the miles.
    Definitely ruined it for the rest of us.

  2. @David – not true. I had multiple cases when I tried to claim 2,500 miles, and was denied by the application. It may have a fairly “loose” algorithm, but if the bag came within 20 mins, no way will credit be given.

  3. After 1.7 million miles with Delta, I think this just reflects Delta’s incompetence. For example, my luggage is always tagged Priority when I check in. Post-Covid, I have seen the Priority luggage come first down the conveyor belt once. On a couple of trips, they have been the last. For the record, my trips tend to be international, but priority is priority, except with Delta.

    I have resigned myself to being ecstatic that the luggage made it to the right place at a reasonable time.

  4. @Gennady – Fair enough. I admit I’ve never tried to falsely claim late baggage. I was relaying what I’ve been told by people who do. Honestly it makes me feel better knowing that Delta does occasionally deny claims. You’re probably right about the loose algorithm.

  5. If you are charging more for bags they should get there. If they don’t that on the airline. They should own that we shouldn’t have to ask them

  6. I don’t quite understand how “gaming” tye system works, because Delta’s system knows when the bags were delayed or took longer than 20min. So if your bus arrived within 10 min and you would still claim it took over 20 min, Deltas baggage claim form, would immediately tell you ” your bags arrived on time and within the time frame”

  7. David, I don’t think that’s true. When I’ve filed for a bag delivered at the 20-minute mark, I’ve been denied. I believe the system not to be game-able, but rather Delta set a difficult goal and made it easy to suffer the consequences of failure.

  8. I’ll be honest. I’ve racked up over 100k miles doing this in the past 5 years. Delta definitely would still give miles even when on time.

  9. It’s a shame SWA doesn’t offer this. I recently flew SJC-SLC on Southwest, and my bag was sent to Phoenix! But at least they sent it out to my hotel in Provo the next day.

  10. I personally don’t think the airlines care if they lose our luggage, because they make a profit off of it. All lost luggage they sell to a company called Unclaimed Baggage in Atlanta, Georgia. Then that company goes through it and sells all your stuff at high prices. You can go on their website and buy stuff or go to there store which is huge. Like 6 blockes long.

  11. You’re bias against Delta is nakedly obvious. What happened Gar? Did they pull your 360 status

  12. The headline is spitting a “fact” while the body of the article is speculative. Seems like clickbait.

Comments are closed.