Alaska Airlines has had a do-it-yourself option for checked baggage for a while now. Self-Tag Express™ lets you print out a baggage tag from the check-in kiosk, attach it to your bag, and then drop it at the counter. In theory this makes lines move faster because the agent spends less time interacting with every passenger; most of the data entry and payment is done using the kiosk. There’s now an option to print your baggage tags at home.
Full-service check-in still exists, so to motivate passengers to use this new service Alaska Airlines is offering up to 5,000 bonus miles — 1,000 miles each time you self-check a bag on up to five trips (HT to awaite01 on FlyerTalk). The offer lasts through October 20 and is only valid when you print the tags at home, not if you use the self-tag kiosks at the airport.
This is an easy way to score a few thousand miles if you’re already an elite member of Alaska Airlines or one of its partners, American and Delta, who get a free checked bag. If your bag arrives more than 20 minutes late on arrival, you could even pick up 2,500 more miles with Alaska’s 20-minute guarantee. But as someone who almost always takes a carry-on, it will mean a few more minutes on either end of my trip. If trying to value your time, I would estimate 1,000 miles are worth about $15-20.
My one experience using the self-tag process was not positive. Three months ago I was in Salt Lake City, which apparently is one of those airports that also requires you to drag your own luggage to the TSA instead of placing it on the belt behind the counter. We spent much more time trying to figure out how the tags work and where to take the bags than I would estimate if we had been at a larger hub like Seattle, Portland, or Los Angeles. And with elite status I usually don’t have to wait long anyway for a full service check-in anyway.
But for 5,000 miles (10,000 including my wife), I’ll probably give it another try — Alaska is encouraging me to try it at least five times. And I’m looking forward to trying the print-at-home option instead. I hope that fewer steps will make it much easier to implement. Those of you with an upcoming trip already booked can request a re-usable baggage tag to be mailed in advance.