Delta Air Lines announced a program last week guaranteeing the minimum delivery time of luggage from the aircraft to the airport carousel.
Through March 31st, passengers who wait more than 20 minutes will be entitled to 2,500 free SkyMiles — they simply need to fill out a form online and submit it for approval.
On the surface, this is could be a great incentive for time-crunched travelers to book with Delta, but in practice, it may be much harder to implement and monitor — after all, it’s not like passengers or staff are going to be standing around the airport with stopwatches.
All mechanics aside though, it’s worth asking the question of who’s actually going to take advantage of this offer. To begin with, only the nerds like you and I who know about the offer are going to keep an eye on timing. Among the nerds, take away the large majority that don’t check bags. Section off the remainder and take away all of the flights that actually get their bags delivered on time (noting that it can often take 20 minutes to fully unload a plane). From that group, find the few who are willing to fill out a form and who actually have proof that they waited for more than twenty minutes. That’s only a few people.
It’s helpful, thus, to think past actual passengers and SkyMIles at stake here and focus on what may actually be the real prize: the marketing. Right now, Delta and Alaska are in the middle of a fifth grade pissing match over who’s the coolest kid on the playground in Seattle. Each is trying to steal the other’s lunch and usurp passengers from the other carrier, publicly one-upping each other’s benefits and making the other airline look bad.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone then to find out that Alaska has its own baggage claim policy, one that guarantees bags in — you guessed it — 20 minutes.
Within that context, this latest promotion from Delta seems like more of a kick to Alaska’s shin rather than an effort to actually improve baggage service. At least the product of this effort will also net a few passengers a couple of extra SkyMiles.