Racing Alaska Airlines 20 minutes checked bag guarantee

In the past two weeks I have made four Alaska Airlines flights between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. I traveled light with carry-on bags for three flights. On my most recent flight from SLC to SFO, I figured there was nothing to lose in racing Alaska Airlines 20 minutes checked bag guarantee.

Get Your Bags in 20 Minutes Guaranteed

At Alaska Airlines, we understand how important your time is. That’s why we’re the first major U.S. airline with a Baggage Service Guarantee.

If your baggage is 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.

If we don’t meet our 20 minute guarantee, simply see one of our Customer Service Agents within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival for your voucher.

Alaska Airlines Baggage Service Guarantee

Alaska Airlines ran a January 2015 promotion for one free checked bag for any flyers. I had nothing to lose. I checked my bag at Salt Lake City and either my bag would be there around the time I reached baggage claim in SFO or I would file a claim at SFO for 2,500 miles.

Alaska Air Flight Arrival at SFO

The wording reads, “If your baggage is not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate”, then you can file a claim for 2,500 miles or $25 flight voucher. I wanted miles.

Plane’s arrival at the gate is the key wording. Still, SFO is a big airport and I gave Alaska Airlines a head start by waiting to start my iPhone stopwatch timer for 20 minutes at the time the first passenger walked off the plane. I was near the back of the plane. Eight minutes passed before I stepped off the plane.

I stopped in the first bathroom I saw to wash my hands.

Stopwatch read 9:40 seconds remaining.

I continued through the SFO International terminal, which is where Alaska Airlines flights operate out of in SFO. The thought of a 2.5 hour drive to Monterey motivated me to stop in a second bathroom to relieve myself before catching the Hilton SFO shuttle to my parked car.

Stopwatch read 4:54 seconds remaining.

Past the security gate and a walk through the terminal check-in area for flights to reach the escalator down to #9 baggage claim. At the top of the escalator baggage claim monitor showed first bag arrived for a set of flights. Alaska Air from Salt Lake City did not show first bags arrived.

Stopwatch read 2:34 seconds remaining.

Down the escalator and around the corner to baggage carousel #9 with 1:45 seconds remaining.

My eyes spot the carousel with bags and my bright yellow Tumi suitcase directly in front of me. I tried to recall when was the last time I saw my checked bag on a baggage carousel upon arrival?

Stopwatch read 1:32 seconds remaining.

I raced Alaska Airlines for their 20 minute checked bag guarantee and lost. My bag was waiting for me on the carousel at SFO within 20 minutes of people de-boarding the plane at the gate. No 2,500 miles for me.

In 20 minutes I was outside SFO International Terminal with my checked bag waiting for the shuttle bus to Hilton SFO.

Alaska Airlines was the checked bag guarantee winner for this flight. Standing outside SFO airport with my checked bag ready for the next leg of my journey home 20 minutes after the Alaska Airlines flight landed made me a winner too.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I want to clarify on sentence in the posting. If you are entitled to the 2,500 bonus miles, you do not have to file a “claim”. You obtain a voucher from the baggage agent that has a claim code. Simply go online to your Alaska Airlines mileage account and enter the voucher code. Your bonus miles will immediately post to your account.

  2. I flew into SFO on Alaska last week. I was first off the plane, and my bag was already on the carousel when I got to baggage claim.

    I fly lots of miles on Alaska, and I think I’ve qualified for the guarantee maybe twice. It usually means that the bags took a different flight.

  3. The trick to this is being able to find the baggage agent. Bags took over 40 minutes at IAH once, and I could not find anyone. If you don’t get the voucher… no miles for you!

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