Alaska Airlines is promoting its Mileage Plan program in a different way next month, offering anyone who signs up for an account the opportunity to check a bag for free during January 2015 — even if you don’t have any elite status. Companions on the same reservation will also be eligible to check their free bag for free.
“We are excited to offer all Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members a great perk when they fly with us during January — one free checked bag,” said Caroline Boren, Alaska Airlines’ managing director of loyalty marketing and customer care. “Starting the year by sampling Alaska’s award-winning loyalty program and beginning to earn miles toward a weekend getaway or the vacation of a lifetime is a great way to kick off 2015.”
Customers traveling next month who are not Mileage Plan members can sign up for free online prior to their trip or at the airport before they check their bags. Sign up for Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan in about one minute online at www.alaskaair.com/mileageplan.
It’s an interesting choice of promotion given that Alaska Airlines is the only U.S. carrier I know of that doesn’t include a free checked bag as a benefit of its co-branded credit card. I don’t mind because the annual companion fare is far more valuable to me — Alaska’s credit card ads in the Seattle TSA bins say something along the lines of “Next time bring a friend.” Still, this could help sway some potential customers who otherwise benefit from a free bag with competitors.
Don’t forget that Alaska continues to offer a 20-minute guarantee. I’ll usually start a timer when they arrive at the gate in hopes of collecting 2,500 miles or a $25 travel credit.
Many frequent flyers argue against checking a bag whenever possible because it can add to delays and create complications. I have very recent experience with this on American Airlines, losing my chance to move up to an earlier flight because of a checked bag — passengers and their bags must fly together. My original flight was then delayed three hours, and I had to overnight in Dallas before continuing to Seattle. I’m writing this post from the plane instead of heading to the office.
But the winter months are usually when I break this rule. I have Christmas presents to shuttle back and forth. Winter clothes are bulkier. There may be some wine I want to bring for a party. Though the holidays are ending, hopefully some of you will be able to enjoy a ski trip in January during this promotional period. (Winter sports enthusiasts take note: Alaska is also partnering with many ski resorts to offer discounted or free lift tickets and offering a free flight when you complete two qualifying round-trips.)
Terms and conditions for the free checked bag: Mileage Plan members and companions traveling on the same reservation will receive their first checked bag free on qualifying reservations when they check-in for their flight or at the airport. The promotion is valid for flights flown between 12:01 a.m., Jan. 1 through 11:59 p.m., Jan. 31. At least one valid and active Mileage Plan number must be in the reservation at the time of check-in, and flight miles must be credited to Mileage Plan to qualify. Offer may not be applied retroactively, and no refunds will be issued. Not applicable for travelers who already receive one or more free checked bags. Travel is valid on flights marketed by Alaska Airlines and operated by Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air, SkyWest or PenAir between January 1, 2015, and January 31, 2015. Free first checked bag must weigh 50 pounds or less and have a maximum dimension of 62 linear inches (length + height + width) to avoid additional charges. See alaskaair.com/bagrules for complete baggage rules. All terms and conditions of the Mileage Plan program apply. Offer subject to change without notice.