One of many unique and quirky perks offered by West Coast juggernaut Alaska Airlines is free wine carriage.
Alaska, like every US airline but Southwest, charges for bags on domestic flights. It will take a case of wine for free, though.
Passengers flying from from just about anywhere in the western United States with a winery nearby — read: any west coast city, including Boise — can put a case of wine in the cargo hold fee-free. There are a few steps to prepare for this boozy passage.
Passengers can fly on Alaska free, too, if they leverage some points and miles options. More on that downscreen.
Step One: Have a Mileage Plan Account
Only Mileage Plan members qualify for free wine luggage. Mileage Plan accounts are free, though, and can be created online in a few minutes.
Step Two: Package The Wine
Alaska uses the standard definition of “case”, 12 bottles, to qualify this free promotion. That means you can check up to 12 bottles of wine for free. A second box or suitcase doesn’t count.
Unfortunately, the airline won’t accept a free bag if it also happens to contain wine. Per Alaska’s free wine landing page: “The wine must be packed and sealed for transport in a protective shipping container.”
Most wineries and even standard wine and liquor stores should have wine shipment boxes handy. Just make sure they are the standard 12-bottle size.
Step Three: Tell The Check-In Agent There’s Wine In That Box
Your Mileage Plan account should reflect the $25 wine waiver automatically, so tell the check-in agent that you’ve got a box of wine, and they should activate the waiver, mark the box as fragile and send it on its way.
Passengers Can Also Fly Alaska Free
Here at Point Me To The Plane, we are all about connecting ambitious travelers with free flights. You can and should take advantage of strategies to rack up free travel Alaska Airlines by leveraging offers designed to entice travelers to frequent flyer credit programs. Many of these programs will both award bonus points and waive fees for new sign-ups.
Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is one of the most valuable still in existence. While other US carriers have devalued awards and charge as many as 60,000 miles to fly in economy from the west coast to east coast, It’s possible to fly cross-country on transatlantic Alaska flights for 10,000 miles in the main cabin and 20,000 miles in first class.
Alaska’s own Visa Signature Rewards card will net flyers 30,000 miles after they spend $1,000 in the first 90 days. The card costs $75 per year, but it also comes with an incredible companion ticket perk that essentially allows you to fly two passengers for the price of one, plus taxes and fees, round-trip, on any Alaska flight.
For those not keen on a year-round commitment Alaska’s credit card, there are other, points and miles cards that will earn bonus points through any airline and can also be used to book Alaska flights free. Flyers wanting to bring free wine on an economy ticket, must input their Mileage Plan number after making the reservation through alternate programs.
The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN both currently offer sign-up bonuses after meeting spend requirements. Those points can be transferred instantly to British Airways Executive Club, and can then be used to book award seats on Alaska Airlines.
A good low-fee option to net free Alaska flights is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which comes with a 50,000 point bonus after cardholders spend $3,000 in 90 days. Like the American Express cards above, the Sapphire Preferred card points can be used to book Alaska flights through British Airways. Chase waves the $95 annual fee for the first year.
Flyers wanting to bring free wine on an economy ticket, must input their Mileage Plan number after making the reservation through alternate programs.
Finding Mileage Award Seats to Book
Alaska makes it easy to find seats that are open for points and miles bookings. When searching flights on alaskaair.com, click the “Use Miles” check box to get an awards calendar to appear.
The saver-level base mileage rates for coastal flights are 7,500 miles one-way in economy and 25,000 in first class. For transcontinental flights, the rates are 12,500 miles in economy and 30,000 miles in first class, one-way.
To book Alaska flights using the British Airways Executive Club (accepting credit card transfers), you’ll need to find seats at these lowest-level rates, and then call British Airways to confirm availability and miles needed before transferring the credit card points. The points can be transferred from both American Express and Chase website portals, and should transfer quick enough to nab a reservation with the same agent on the line.