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Taking Advantage of Delta’s 20 Minute Bag Guarantee

Just the other day I was flying from LAX to RDU on a red eye that left LAX around 10:30pm PST and got into RDU around 6:30am EST. This is a flight I’ve taken several times in the past and while I don’t love red eyes I’ve definitely learned how to tolerate them. Hint – elite status and first class seats help. This post however is not about the merits of flying red eyes or attaining elite status. Instead, I want to talk about the Delta bags on time promotion and how I was able to take advantage of the program to the tune of 2,500 miles.

Delta Bags on Time Overview

In the ever competitive commercial airline marketplace, competitors are always looking to one up each other. Delta has decided that one way to try and beat American Airlines and United, is to offer a guarantee. Specifically, they’re offer a baggage claim guarantee which states:

if your checked bag doesn’t arrive at the carousel in 20 minutes or less after any domestic flight, you are eligible to receive 2,500 bonus miles

The 20 minutes they’re referring to is defined as “time elapsed between aircraft door open and delivery of the bag to the baggage claim belt”. The program is only available on paid tickets for published fares. Meaning that you won’t be able to take advantage if you’re flying on an employee pass or if you’re an employee of another airline who’s flying on Delta at a discount.

The promotion is only valid for domestic flights within the US and Puerto Rico. If you’re flying on a codeshare flight you’re eligible, so long as the final leg is marketed and operated by Delta or a connection carrier. One important thing to note is that you must include your SkyMiles number at the time of reservation in order to be eligible. This means that if you book a flight on say Expedia, you must connect it with your SkyMiles account before you depart. Failure to do so will result in the forfeiture of the ability to submit your bags on time claim.

My Use Case

I’ve flown on Delta quite a bit this year. While I’ve been aware of the program this whole time I never really thought about it because Delta pretty much always gets the bags to the carousel pretty quickly. They probably wouldn’t offer a program like this if they weren’t pretty sure that you’re going to get your bags on time more often than not. On this particular flight however we got in around 6:30am EST, I didn’t deplane right away (had to gather my belongings) then I went to the bathroom on the way to baggage claim. While I did not look at my watch right when I got to baggage claim I waited for about 15 minutes before I looked and realized that about 25-30 minutes had past since my flight had landed!

At that point I did what any points pursuer would do and loaded up the Delta website. The website form asks for your basic information as well as information about the flight itself. Note, you will need both your Skymiles and a confirmation number in order to complete the form.

Delta bags on time form submission
Delta bags on time form submission

On the Delta website they say that claims for the bonus miles can take up to 2 weeks to process and that you’ve got up to 3 days after your flight arrives to submit your claim. Maybe it was luck but when I submitted the form I was immediately sent to a page that said my request was successful and the 2,500 points were deposited into my account instantaneously! All in all the redemption process was quick and easy and while I don’t expect to be able to take advantage of this type of thing very often knowing that it’s available and taking advantage when you can is the key!

Not all bags are eligible

Oversized and overweight baggage is not eligible for the promotion, unfortunately. Additionally, special items are not eligible . The high level categories for special items are; fragile & bulky items, imported merchandise, infant & children’s items, medical supplies & equipment, personal wheelchairs, musical instruments, perishables, and sports equipment. For a full list of all special items, click here.

Bags on Time Downsides

  • You must be a Skymiles member before the flight, and your Skymiles # must be apart of your reservation. This is easy and free so if you haven’t signed up for Skymiles yet be sure to do so before your next Delta flight.
  • The promotion is domestic only so if your bags are delayed from Paris to New York then you won’t be eligible for any bonus miles.
  • You must report the incident yourself. While Delta could theoretically determine if your bags were 20 minutes late and just give you the miles, they’re going to make you work for it. For me this is actually a positive because I don’t think Delta would host such a promotion if it were automated (they know that most people will not submit the claim). But for points pursuers in the know this isn’t that big of a deal.

Have you ever been able to take advantage of this promotion? Are there any other downsides or gotchas worth noting? Be sure to let us know on Twitter or in the comment section below!

Take 2!

When I wrote this post originally I was sitting in the DTW airport waiting for my flight back to RDU. The flight got in near midnight after a slight delay. After landing I started the stopwatch on my phone, went down to baggage claim, and sure enough the timer showed 20 minutes before the bags arrived. I got out my iPhone, went to Delta.com/BagsOnTime and submitted my claim. The bags on time claim was posted to my account immediately after submitting. While I think I would prefer getting my bags quickly, I’m not going to complain about earning 2,500 points for 20+ minutes of waiting.

delta bags on time bonus
Delta bags on time bonus

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