Delta 20 Minute Checked Bag Guarantee: My Experience

Delta 20 Minute Checked Bag Guarantee: My Experience

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Yesterday I had my first experience with Delta’s 20 minute checked bag guarantee, and I was impressed by how seamless the whole process was.

What is Delta’s checked bag guarantee?

In order to make passengers feel at ease about checking bags, Delta has a 20 minute checked bag guarantee. This means that if your checked bag doesn’t arrive at the carousel within 20 minutes of your flight’s arrival, you are eligible to receive 2,500 bonus Delta SkyMiles (which I value at ~$28). As you’d expect, there are some terms to be aware of:

  • This only applies to domestic flights (the US 50 and Puerto Rico) that are marketed and operated by Delta
  • Itineraries that include codeshare flights are eligible, as long as the final leg is marketed and operated by Delta
  • You have to complete a form within three days of your flight’s arrival to request the SkyMiles
  • You must be a SkyMiles member at the time of travel to be eligible
  • Each passenger is limited to one request per passenger per direction of travel, regardless of the number of checked bags
  • It can take up to two weeks after submitting the request for bonus miles to post, though typically they post instantly
  • 20 minutes is calculated between the time the aircraft door opens and when bags are delivered to the belt
  • All paid and published fares (including SkyMiles award tickets are eligible), though those traveling with employee pass privileges or on industry discounted tickets don’t qualify

My experience claiming Delta’s checked bag guarantee

Yesterday we flew from New York to Tampa on Delta, and arrived at 6:48PM.

We headed down to baggage claim, and it was a zoo. Delta flights from Raleigh, Atlanta, Detroit, and New York, were all using the same belt.

Baggage claim belt at Tampa Airport (TPA)
Delta flight arrivals at Tampa Airport (TPA)

Not a single bag arrived from our flight within 20 minutes of arrival. In the end, our bags arrived at 7:20PM, 32 minutes after arrival.

So, what was the process of requesting the SkyMiles like? It couldn’t have been easier. You just have to go to this Delta webpage, and enter your name, SkyMiles number, departure city, arrival city, date of travel, and confirmation number.

After hitting “submit,” I received a message immediately telling me that based on the information provided, my claim was successful and the miles had been posted to my account.

Sure enough, when I logged into my account, the miles were already there.

Ford and I both submitted claims (we each had one checked bag), so that’s 5,000 SkyMiles — not bad!

Delta’s baggage reliability makes a big difference

Left to my own devices I’d almost never check a bag, but Ford often feels differently. So I just want to take a moment to commend Delta for its general commitment to delivering bags in a timely manner. If we’re going to check bags, I’m always happy when it’s on Delta, since it’s not a huge waste of time (and it’s something I even factor in when booking flights where I know I’m checking a bag).

With Delta, bags almost always do arrive within 20 minutes. And when you consider that it might take 10 minutes to get to baggage claim, you’re often not even having to wait 10 minutes for a bag. This policy just shows a general respect for customers’ time, and I’m grateful for that.

Compare that to flying American to Miami, where I’ve regularly waited over 45 minutes for a checked bag.

Bottom line

Delta has a 20 minute baggage guarantee, whereby the airline guarantees your bag will arrive at the belt within 20 minutes of your flight’s arrival, or else you get 2,500 bonus SkyMiles. Usually Delta is great about getting bags out quickly, and that makes a huge difference.

Fortunately when the 20 minute guarantee isn’t met, the process of claiming bonus SkyMiles is really easy.

Have you ever used Delta’s 20 minute bag guarantee? If so, what was your experience like?

Conversations (31)
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  1. Susan B. Guest

    I think I earned more points from late bags last year than I did on my flights. I normally wouldn't check a bag for a short trip - but it seemed like bags were late more than on-time so I took a chance on getting the extra miles.

  2. Terry Guest

    Have claimed late baggage perk several times. Using the Delta app produces instant results.

  3. Andy Diamond

    A nice policy - unheard of in Europe ... I never check bags (except at the door in case of regional jets).

    On trips like the one Ben and Ford did, checking bags can result in a lot of misery. Figure the bag hadn't arrived with you to Venice. I understand you only spent a couple of days there and even if the bag is found, it might take much longer. And then, the...

    A nice policy - unheard of in Europe ... I never check bags (except at the door in case of regional jets).

    On trips like the one Ben and Ford did, checking bags can result in a lot of misery. Figure the bag hadn't arrived with you to Venice. I understand you only spent a couple of days there and even if the bag is found, it might take much longer. And then, the airline has no obligation to forward it anywhere else, because you travelled on a oneway ticket to Venice and they fulfilled the contract ...

  4. Liz Guest

    What is more important to me than the bag collection time is the fact that Delta will send a text before departure that my bag has now been loaded onto my flight. So I know it'll arrive on the belt at some point; getting an extra 2500 miles is a bonus.

  5. GringoLoco Gold

    You value 2500 SkyPesos at $28? Really? I value them just north of a warm bucket of spit but it's a close call...

  6. DLPTATL Guest

    There's no way UA or AA could offer this, they'd be miles bankrupt by now. I'm still waiting on a bag from an ATL:DEN flight on UA from 2001 to arrive...I still remember the gross indifference I received from everyone at UA I had to talk to trying to recover my luggage.

    Based in ATL I NEVER get to claim this b/c the bags show up so quick. Last few domestic flights I've landed...

    There's no way UA or AA could offer this, they'd be miles bankrupt by now. I'm still waiting on a bag from an ATL:DEN flight on UA from 2001 to arrive...I still remember the gross indifference I received from everyone at UA I had to talk to trying to recover my luggage.

    Based in ATL I NEVER get to claim this b/c the bags show up so quick. Last few domestic flights I've landed in E and International and the bags were already on the belt by the time I got off the Plane Train.

  7. Jerry Diamond

    Just 95 more baggage delays and you'll have enough points to fly Air Europa R/T JFK-MAD!!

  8. JimATL Guest

    Used this feature a few times. Always in ATL. Credit recorded to SkyMiles immediately.
    Ben, on another issue. Amex has not updated March 2022 SkyMiles activity to member accounts. Amex has had systems glitches several times the last few days. Called Amex today to find out what gives. Was advised by their rep that they know about this and it will take 14 days to correct. You may want to look into this.

  9. Mark P Member

    I like this system a lot better than how Alaska does it. At airports other than SEA, it usually involves tracking down the one Alaska employee and getting a physical certificate with a voucher code or waiting for an email with the voucher code that is often sent by the baggage department several days later (if at all). Sometimes nobody is to be found on site and I just leave.

    1. Chris Guest

      Agreed, though my alaska bags actually do come out within 20 mins since they’re often smaller planes. Delta is almost always skirting the 20 min mark

  10. Mr. Obvious Guest

    Here's the way I see it, "Ben". Guy puts a fancy guarantee on the box cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.
    Ben S: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
    Mr. Obvious: 'Course it does. Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ben?
    Ben S: What's your...

    Here's the way I see it, "Ben". Guy puts a fancy guarantee on the box cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.
    Ben S: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
    Mr. Obvious: 'Course it does. Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ben?
    Ben S: What's your point?
    Mr. Obvious: The point is, how do you know the fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy, well, we're not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that's all it takes. The next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser and your daughter's knocked up, I seen it a hundred times.
    Ben S: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?
    Mr. Obvious: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of s*#T. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Meth is a helluva drug…

  11. JasonB Member

    I read this article through my RSS reader and was amazed to see who wrote it. Ben checked a bag?!

  12. ArthurSFO Guest

    I love how Alaska has a similar policy, and I also consider it when booking flights.

    AA, on the other hand, has caused me plenty of headache due to incredibly slow arrival of bags time after time.

    If AA had the same policy as AS/DL, I'd be swimming in AA miles

  13. Ralph4878 Guest

    I took a flight to AMS from OTP on a DL/KL ticket that was operated by KL. Our bags took AN HOUR to show up, off a direct flight. The KL rep who was helping all of us asked that we reach out to the airline to tell them about our experience. Interestingly, because I was on a DL ticket, KL apparently forwarded my "case" to Delta, who proceeded to send me a long apology...

    I took a flight to AMS from OTP on a DL/KL ticket that was operated by KL. Our bags took AN HOUR to show up, off a direct flight. The KL rep who was helping all of us asked that we reach out to the airline to tell them about our experience. Interestingly, because I was on a DL ticket, KL apparently forwarded my "case" to Delta, who proceeded to send me a long apology and give me a $100 giftcard. So while the 20-Minute Guarantee supposedly only pertains to their domestic flights, DL's customer service seems to care about what happens internationally - even when they aren't operating the flight.

  14. Brian Guest

    I understand that not checking a bag is a major advantage in the event of travel disruption and I can’t debate that. But I’m a high volume flyer and on Delta I check 95% and 100% if I’m on a regional jet on any leg. Much less stressful. Once you go to bathroom and walk to baggage claim Delta usually has things moving. I’ve found this true even at LGA. Currently LAX is a mess in Delta baggage tho.

  15. beachmouse New Member

    I actually have a lot of success with this at tiny VPS of all places-the airport is doing twice the passenger count it was designed for and has one functional baggage carousel so 22-25 minutes is pretty common. Miles are typically in my account a minute or two after the claim is made.

    1. pcolabeachdogmom Guest

      Ditto at PNS-I input my information as soon as my timer hits 16 min or so and the miles are deposited (if applicable) before I leave the airport. There is a lot of Delta hate but this is one more reason I fly them almost exclusively.

  16. 767 Guest

    AS also has a 20 minute guarantee. Their process is a little different whereby you have to find an AS agent in baggage claim before you leave the airport to get a voucher which can then be redeemed for 2500 miles or a $25 credit. Did this in SEA last summer.

  17. Anthony Diamond

    Between this (baggage has been pretty slow at JFK recently) and the once or twice a year irregular operations, I get about 20K to 25K bonus sky miles a year; sometimes 35K to 50K. Nice bonus IMO. Adds up.

  18. FNT Delta Diamond Guest

    I make a claim about once a month. I fly weekly. Half the time the claim doesn't work because they seem to go off the scheduled arrival time and not the actual arrival time. Thus, if the plane arrives early and the bag is more than 20 minutes late but not 20 minutes past the scheduled arrival time then there's no compensation.

    1. Santos Guest

      Well, in those cases, you weren't technically delayed, were you?

    2. TravelCat2 New Member

      Maybe not delayed, but certainly inconvenienced and, at least slightly, stressed. No one wants to hang around a crowded baggage claim area any longer than necessary.

  19. Up Up & Away Member

    I tend not to fly Delta because of their faux frequent flyer program but I do give them credit for trying to run a real airline.

  20. shoeguy Guest

    Which is all why we never, ever check a bag.

    1. Jan Guest

      On the contrary, I feel like I need to check bags so I can collect them skymoneys!

  21. Jkjkjk Guest

    Whenever connecting at JFK this always happened because they would lose/miss bags. ‍♂️
    It’s all good as we can use it for Dom in skyclub.
    Otherwise they’re quite good. Except sometimes sky priority bag doesn’t come out first. But still quick in general.

  22. Jim Guest

    I fly DL a lot, and at most places, the bags seem to pop out exactly 19 minutes after arrival. (Meaning, I've already filled out that online form and my finger is hovering over the "submit" button, only to close the tab and go.)

    The exception? ATL. Of all places, DL's megahub can't seem to manage. Last week, on a flight from DCA, the wait was 48 minutes.

    1. JW in GA Guest

      Really? I tend to have the exact opposite experience. ATL is almost always 15-19 minutes for me. In some cases my bag is waiting for me if I'm in an outlying concourse and/or if I'm not in Delta Comfort. It's the smaller, less efficient airport operations (think shared baggage handlers or otherwise thin staffs) where I tend to get the bonus.

  23. skimegheath Gold

    I flew MEL to SYD today with QF.. My driver to the airport told me that his previous passenger had waited 70 mins for his bags to arrive. Enjoy your free miles!

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jerry Diamond

Just 95 more baggage delays and you'll have enough points to fly Air Europa R/T JFK-MAD!!

1
JasonB Member

I read this article through my RSS reader and was amazed to see who wrote it. Ben checked a bag?!

1
Santos Guest

Well, in those cases, you weren't technically delayed, were you?

1
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