Airlines and hotels are well known for their loyalty programs. Most people, even those who don’t travel often, are aware that members of airline loyalty programs will earn miles for their flights and members of hotel programs will earn points for their stays. However, like the old 1980s American Express commercials say, membership has its privileges.
We’ve gone over some of the “extra” things you get when you sign up for hotel programs. Airlines also have their own benefits when you sign up for their respective frequent flyer programs.
- It saves you from having to key in all your info (name, address, PreCheck #, etc.) every time you make a reservation
- You can redeem miles for free flights, upgrades, experiences or “stuff”
- Delta SkyMiles members get free Wi-Fi
- Both Delta and Alaska have guarantees for their respective frequent flyer members if they have to wait more than 20 minutes for their luggage to arrive at the carousel (albeit with some loopholes)
But my favorite is a benefit that Alaska Airlines offers its Mileage Plan members, simply because it’s so valuable.
They’ll allow you to ship a case of wine for free.
Alaska Airlines and their regional partners serve more than 120 destinations across 36 of the United States, as well as the Bahamas, Belize, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. However, a good portion of their flights are on the west coast. And what else is on the West Coast? Wineries. Lots and lots of wineries.
So if you’re a Mileage Plan member and fly Alaska Airlines out of any of Alaska’s 32 “Wine Flies Free” destinations in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or California, and it’s a domestic flight, you’ll be able to check a case of wine for free. Here’s what Alaska Airlines says about it:
How does Wine Flies Free™ work?
- Wine flies for free on flights departing from our 32 airports in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or California to any Alaska Airlines city in the United States.
- You must be 21 or older.
- Add your Mileage Plan number to your reservation to make sure your first case of wine won’t count towards your checked baggage allowance.
- Make sure your purchases are properly packed for the trip home — in a case or box, with packing material such as styrofoam, cardboard liners, or bubble wrap .
- Check your properly packed case of wine with an Alaska Airlines customer service agent at our ticketing counter. A helpful hint: We consider one case of wine to be a single box or case containing up to 12 bottles and weighing 50 lbs or less.
Bringing wine luggage with you? Please note if you’re flying from a non-participating city to one of our Wine Flies Free destinations, all luggage incurs standard checked bag fees. Only flights departing from the destinations listed above are eligible for Wine Flies Free.
You’ll need to make sure that you follow the directions. Also from Alaska Airlines:
1. The wine must be packed and sealed for transport in a protective shipping container.
2. Let the Alaska Airlines customer service agent know you’re checking a case of wine so that they can label your box “FRAGILE.”
3. The TSA reserves the right to open your container to check the contents, but will reseal it after inspection.
4. Items packaged in a cardboard box are covered in case of loss, but are checked at your own risk for damage. See our checked bag policy for more details.
When Joe and I visited the Willamette Valley area, we flew in/out of Portland (PDX) on Alaska Airlines and took advantage of their Wine Flies Free offer. It was GREAT. We each checked one case and they arrived with us, back in Orlando, hassle free.
What’s the savings?
A standard 750 ml bottle of wine weighs about 2.65 pounds. With 12 bottles in a case, that’s just shy of 32 pounds before you even get into the weight of the box, packing material, etc. So figure roughly 35 pounds.
For reservations made after January 2, 2024, Alaska Airlines charges $35 for your first checked bag and $45 for your second checked bag, provided each bag is under 50 pounds (if your reservation was made before 1/2/24, the price is $30 and $40, respectively. They just began a price increase).
So assuming you’re checking a piece of luggage along with a case of wine, the Wine Flies Free program will save you $45 in checked bag fees. And that’s for ANYONE who simply gets a Mileage Plan membership (which is free); you don’t have to have a special elite status or anything.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary