Alaska Air ups checked baggage service guarantee to 20 minutes

Alaska Air Group, parent of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, just reported a profit of USD5.3 million for the first quarter of 2010, which was largely helped by revenues of USD23 million in baggage fees. Since July 2009, Alaska charges passengers USD15 for their first checked bag, USD25 for their second and USD50 for their third piece of luggage. Charges for the first two bags are waived for business class customers and upper tier members of the airline’s frequent flyer program. 

As passengers are now paying extra for their checked luggage, Alaska and Horizon Air guarantee their luggage will reach the baggage carousel 25 minutes or less from the time their airplane has parked at the gate. If it isn’t, passengers will get USD25 off a future flight or 2,500 frequent-flier miles (compensation will be given per passenger though, not per bag). Alaska Airlines said it checks about 20,000 bags per day and in the first three months since the start of the service guarantee only a few hundred claims have been made. Alaska says it is the only carrier offering such a service guarantee. 

Alaska and Horizon have just announced new checked baggage fees and, in a move to simplify the fee structure, will charge USD20 for each of a passenger’s first three checked bags starting June 2010. This will increase the cost of the first checked bag by USD5, but decrease the costs of the second and third bags. The carriers at the same time announced they will shorten the baggage service guarantee from 25 to 20 minutes. Customers whose luggage is not at baggage claim 20 minutes after their flight arrives will now receive either USD20 off a future flight or 2,000 frequent-flyer miles. Alaska Airlines said it is striving to implement ancillary charges in a way that is “understandable and viewed by customers as fair and reasonable.”


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