Do these 1000 free miles set a dangerous precedent?

Alaska Airlines is currently offering 1,000 free miles to people who tag their checked baggage themselves, via a home printout.


All very good, I hear you say, and in many ways you’re right. 1,000 bonus miles for a few second’s work is clearly a good deal. So, as self-tagging almost certainly follows home check-in as a widespread practice, let’s hope other airlines follow this trend and pass their savings on to you with free miles.

So where’s the danger?

Home tagging of checked-in bags is a positive development while the premium airlines are dishing out free miles for your co-operation.

However, the whole point of home-tagging is that it saves time and reduces the need for airline staff at the airport: two areas that the budget airlines like Ryanair and Wizzair are always keen to focus on.


My concern is when “home-tagging” becomes the norm, and the budget airlines assume that you will do it. This inevitably gives them scope to charge extra for those who do not tag their bags in advance: so another opportunity for them to nobble you for €15 a time should you fail to do so.

The budget airlines make a substantial amount of their profits from “additional charges”, including the fairly outrageous fees for airport check-in (€70 with Ryanair) and boarding pass reprints (€15 Ryanair). Here, sadly, is another opportunity for them.

The more economically minded may argue that the flipside of this is potentially lower fares on the budget airlines, as further costs are cut as a result of this opportunity, and there may be something in this. However, the likelihood is that disproportionate airport charges will be levied for those that do not tag their bags, and so I would be amazed if the net position is positive for the consumer.

Ultimately, penalty payment demands from budget airlines for non-tagging are a far more likely long-term effect of the advent of home-tagging than premium airlines dishing out bonus miles indefinitely for you actively doing it.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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  1. The cost per bag of tagging will be much lower for an airline than it will for someone at home so, unlike online check in where you can do away with a piece of paper, this is not a sensible area to pass on to the customer.

  2. Let’s hope not. I don’t mind savings for the airlines but I’d expect to see that in lower fares like Wowair.

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