One of the last holdouts to allow passengers one complimentary checked bag has folded. For all tickets purchased or reissued on or after May 1, 2009 for travel on or after July 7, 2009, Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air passengers will be charged $15 to check a first bag. Exempt from the new fee are the usual suspects–MVP and MVP Gold elite members and active duty military personnel can continue to check two bags for free. Travelers flying within the state of Alaska can check three bags free of charge and as a concession to California wine lovers–when traveling out of Santa Rosa, Calif. you may check a box of properly packaged wine at no charge.
To soften the blow, Alaska is including a delivery guarantee for a limited time. If your bag is not at baggage claim within 25 minutes of when your plane parked at the gate, you will receive 2,500 bonus miles or a $25 discount off a future Alaska Airlines or Horizon Air flight. The guarantee is valid through Dec. 15, 2009 and the fine print states that Alaska may suspend the guarantee for “airport baggage system malfunctions, severe weather events or other conditions out of the airlines’ control that limit or prohibit timely baggage delivery.” Only one reward will be given per passenger, not per bag. If your bag is late, you’ll need to visit the Alaska or Horizon customer service desk at the airport for a baggage service guarantee certificate.