“Hacking” has been around for a long time. The first I ever heard the terms was when War Games came out, back in 1983. Starring a very young Matthew Broderick, the movie is about a young man who finds a back door into a military central computer in which reality is confused with game-playing, possibly starting World War III (thank-you IMDb).
For years, “hacking” generally had to do with computers and communication. It was just like War Games: breaking into computer systems, telephone networks, and other vulnerable technology. But over time the term has grown, and now includes, “a clever tip or technique for doing or improving something.”
We’ve shared some of these so-called travel hacks over time:
- How to override hotel thermostat settings
- Easy hack to gain more storage space in your hotel room
- How to get around the 3-1-1 rule & bring more shampoo, soap, etc.
- 42 favorite travel hacks of ordinary people
- How to pack so your clothes won’t wrinkle
Anyway, several online entities have recently written about a woman’s “ingenious airport hack” that got her bonus miles. The woman, known as “Janelle – travel expert,” posted her “ingenious hack” on TikTok a little more than a week ago and it already has over 3 million views.
In it, she explains how she checks an empty tote bag when she flies on Delta, “…so I can get my 2,500 SkyMiles when my bag takes more than 20 minutes to get to baggage claim.” Here’s the video:
sky priority babyyyyyy
Janelle is referring to, of course, Delta’s “Bags on Time” guarantee. Delta is one of the airlines that offers you free frequent flyer miles if it takes them more than 20 minutes to get your bag to the carousel.
There are, of course, certain terms and conditions to this guarantee, but as long as Janelle follows them, she will indeed earn 2,500 points every time her empty tote bag is late to the baggage carousel.
A few of the replies on her video mentioned that you have to pay to check a bag. But Janelle reminded them that you get checked bags through certain airline credit cards. Says Janelle:
1. you get a free checked bag with delta’s gold card, which is $0 the first year and $99/year after that. The price of a checked bag is $30 *each way*
2. So if you take TWO round trip Delta flights a year where you’re checking one bag, it would actually be cheaper to have the credit card instead.
(Of course, that’s the only reason to get a specific credit card, but if you travel on Delta enough, it’s one thing to take into consideration)
Janelle also said that if her bag is lost or never makes it onto the flight, she submits that and then also asks for additional compensation.
She also mentioned that the agent who checked her bag told her that she had made his day. One of her commenters also said, “I worked for Delta for 9 years & this is brilliant – it’s REALLY, REALLY hard to get the bags to baggage claim within 20 minutes in larger airports.”
So is this really an “ingenious travel hack” or just a way to work the system? Personally, I think it’s the latter. Delta didn’t start this guarantee as an invitation for people to check empty, worthless bags with the sole intention of collecting 2,500 SkyMiles when they don’t deliver.
As one of the other commenters said, I’d be concerned that if enough people played this game, Delta would remove the guarantee. But until they do, I guess if they’re late with Janelle’s empty tote bag 2 or 3 times, she can get a (cheap) Delta flight for free.
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While I wouldn’t waste my time doing this, if one has nothing better to do and they want to do this, I say good. Take revenge on the dishonest airlines.