Delta 20 Minute Checked Bag Guarantee: My Experience

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?

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