Of all the U.S. carriers, Alaska Airlines has been the only one off the top of my head that did not include a free checked bag as a benefit of its co-branded credit card. Today that’s changing. Travelers with the Visa Signature card from Bank of America (there are other cards with lesser benefits and a lower annual fee) will be entitled to one free checked bag when they travel on Alaska Airlines.
Key points from the press release:
- One free checked bag is available to the primary cardholder and up to six (6) companions on the same reservation.
- It is not necessary to book the reservation using an Alaska Airlines credit card, but you do need to add your Mileage Plan number before check-in to receive the benefit.
- If you’re a new cardholder, allow 2-3 weeks for Alaska to update their system with your eligibility.
Alaska tested out offering a free checked bag to all customers in January, and in February they continued to offer a free checked bag to their Visa Signature cardholders. It appears they’re making February’s promotion permanent. It’s a good thing in that it helps make their card more directly competitive with some other airline credit cards, thought I continue to be a fan of using a carryon whenever possible.
I believe the more valuable benefit of the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card is the annual companion fare. Nothing’s changing in that department. Cardholders will continue to receive a discount code each year, deposited directly in their Mileage Plan account, which offers a $99 companion fare (plus taxes starting at $22) for any itinerary on Alaska Airlines-operated flights. I typically use mine for Hawaii. Even though this companion fare is only eligible for economy fares, it usually doesn’t cost much more to buy one eligible for an instant upgrade.
The best current offer for the Alaska credit card includes 25,000 bonus miles and an additional $100 statement credit (there’s a $75 annual fee). To find the link for this offer, you’ll need to make a dummy booking on AlaskaAir.com — it’s on the final page before you purchase the ticket.
If you do check a bag, don’t forget to take advantage of Alaska’s 20-minute on-time guarantee. There’s no need to register in advance or pay for your checked bag to be eligible. Just start a stopwatch when you arrive at the gate. If it takes more than 20 minutes for your bag to reach the carousel, ask the baggage service center for 2,500 miles or a $25 voucher. It rarely happens — every time I think I’m eligible I was really at the wrong baggage claim!