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 but rather I want to talk about Delta’s 20 minute checked bag guarantee and how I was able to take advantage of the program to the tune of 2,500 miles.


About a year ago Delta piloted a program wherein your checked bag was guaranteed to arrive at the baggage carousel within 20 minutes of you arriving or you’d receive 2,500 miles as compensation. From the Delta website the official text reads “The time to baggage claim will be defined as time elapsed between aircraft door open and delivery of the bag to the baggage claim belt.” Pretty simple right? There are other small print restrictions that you should be aware of such as this offer only being available on domestic flights and you *must* be a “SkyMiles member in good standing at the time of travel and award of bonus miles to be eligible. SkyMiles number must be included on the reservation to be eligible.”

For all of the nitty gritty details on the program be sure to check out

My Use Case

I’ve flown on Delta quite a bit this year and 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 website form is pretty simple and it asks for your basic information as well as information about the flight itself. Note – you will need both your Skymiles # and a confirmation # in order to complete the form.

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!

Program Downsides

There are of course a few “downsides” to the program that you should be aware of.

  • 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.
  • Oversized baggage is exempt from the promotion.
  • 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 once the stopwatch said 20+ minutes I got out my iPhone, went to and submitted my claim for 2,500 bags on time points. The claim was posted to my account immediately after submitting. While I think id prefer getting my bags quickly, I’m not going to complain about earning 2,500 points for 20+ minutes of waiting.


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