The Guide to Alaska Flight Delay Compensation

Depending on the length of the delay, Alaska offers passengers bonus miles, vouchers and/or rebooking on partner airlines.
JT Genter
By JT Genter 
Published
Departure flight board with cancelation at the Airport.

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If you fly enough, experiencing a flight delay is practically inevitable. Between weather issues, maintenance delays and air traffic control staffing issues, all airlines are bound to face delays.

Alaska Airlines has recently been the best U.S. airline at minimizing delays, reporting the highest rate of on-time flights through June 2023. Still, nearly one in five Alaska flights have pushed back departure times for one reason or another.

In these situations, what kind of flight delay compensation are passengers entitled to? Here's a recap of Alaska's compensation policies for you.

6 things to know about Alaska flight delay compensation

1. You're more likely to get flight delay compensation on Alaska than any other U.S. airline

At least on paper, Alaska treats its delayed passengers relatively well. According to data from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Alaska Airlines commits to providing compensation for the most aspects of a controllable flight delay: seven out of eight factors. The next-best airline is JetBlue Airways with six of the eight commitments. American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines tie for third place with five of the eight commitments.

2. Alaska Airlines doesn't guarantee cash compensation for delays

The only of the eight factors that Alaska does not commit to provide is the one travelers would probably like to see most: Cash compensation for delays more than three hours past the scheduled departure time.

Unfortunately, no additional cash compensation is required by Alaska policies or current DOT regulations (though they are required in Europe). At best, you may be able to get a full refund of the price that you paid for your flight — as long as your delay is eligible. And unfortunately, Alaska doesn't define how long of a flight delay is required to get a refund.

3. Alaska Airlines offers bonus miles or a discount code for lengthy delays

Although it doesn't offer cash compensation for delays, Alaska Airlines offers two compensation options in the case of flight delays over three hours — with the exact compensation depending on the length of the delay:

  • A discount code of at least $50 for future travel.

  • At least 2,000 Mileage Plan miles.

Discount codes are valid for one year from the date of issuance toward a future Alaska flight. Alaska miles don't expire, although your account may be deactivated for lack of activity.

🤓Nerdy Tip

NerdWallet values Alaska miles at 1.4 cents per mile. Unless you don't have any plans to take an Alaska flight in the next year, we recommend opting for a $50 voucher instead of 2,000 miles. At NerdWallet valuations, 2,000 miles are only worth $28.

It's worth noting that Alaska Airlines is the only U.S. airline that commits to providing frequent flyer miles in case of a delay. JetBlue is the only other U.S. airline that offers a travel voucher for delays of three hours or more. Other U.S. airlines may provide bonus miles or a voucher to certain travelers after certain delays, but it isn't part of their stated policy.

4. Claim a free meal or overnight accommodation on certain delays

In addition to providing miles or a travel voucher, Alaska Airlines also pledges to provide food and lodging during a delay of three or more hours. First, passengers waiting out the delay at the airport will get a "reasonable meal" — although that's not further defined.

Plus, travelers needing to wait out an overnight delay will receive complimentary hotel accommodations, as long as they are at an airport more than 100 miles from their home. Alaska Airlines agrees to cover both the hotel and round-trip ground transportation to and from the hotel.

5. Only certain Alaska flight delays are eligible for compensation

There's a big asterisk to all that we've covered so far: Alaska Airlines only compensates travelers, provides meals and covers overnight accommodation for eligible delays. Alaska Airlines won't provide any compensation or amenities if your delay is due to:

  • Air traffic control.

  • Weather situations.

  • Passenger's illness.

  • Other extraordinary circumstances beyond the airline’s control that occur at cities within your intended flight routing.

In these cases, you'll need to rely on trip delay insurance — if you have it — to cover your meal and lodging costs. Some cards offer trip delay insurance as a built-in perk.

For example, if you booked your flight with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and your flight is delayed more than six hours or overnight, you'll get up to $500 per passenger in reimbursements for expenses like meals and lodging.

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Travel protections (not a comprehensive list)

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 12 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 6 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $40,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per trip for delays more than 6 hours.

Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

Terms apply.

• Trip delay: Up to $500 per ticket for delays more than 12 hours.

• Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Trip interruption: Up to $10,000 per trip. Maximum benefit of $20,000 per 12-month period.

• Baggage delay: Up to $100 per day for five days.

• Lost luggage: Up to $3,000 per passenger.

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6. Know all of your options during a flight delay

Even if you aren't due Alaska flight delay compensation, you should know you have options during a delay. If your flight is canceled or significantly delayed, gate agents will likely want to rebook you on a later Alaska Airlines flight. However, the airline’s stated policy is to rebook you on partner airlines at no additional cost when there's a significant delay.

Check your options using a flight search tool like Google Flights. Note that Alaska Airlines is part of the Oneworld Alliance along with American Airlines, so American will be a top option. In addition, the airline has struck partnerships with other carriers on which it may rebook you. Alaska flyers have reported being rebooked on American, Delta and United in the case of past delays — although these partnerships can change at any time.

Alaska flight delay compensation recapped

Alaska Airlines offers more to passengers than other U.S. airlines when it comes to delay compensation. In addition to standard provisions — such as meals and overnight lodging — the airline also offers bonus miles or a travel voucher when eligible delays stretch beyond three hours. Plus, Alaska also partners with several competitor airlines to help get travelers where they need to go.

However, all of these types of compensation require that you're on an eligible delay. If your flight is delayed or canceled due to weather, air traffic control or another element deemed outside of the airline's control, you'll need to rely on travel insurance or credit card travel protections to cover these expenses.


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