Why You Should Always Carry An Empty Tote Bag When Flying This Airline

Who doesn't appreciate a fantastic travel hack? Better yet, who doesn't value a superb travel hack that pushes back against unbundled pricing models while taking advantage of an overlooked airline policy? First, we should define "unbundled pricing models." This type of pricing has effectively become the standard of most airlines, and it's been criticized as a misleading, nickel-and-dime practice that tends to charge customers more for less.

Remember when a checked bag was included in the airfare? Or, when you could choose your seat without paying extra? Right. Well, a creative TikTok user, Janelle, recently shared with travelers a pretty ingenious hack that could help customers take back a little power. Janelle, who goes by @janelleonajet on TikTok, showed us how to earn 2,500 Delta SkyMiles per domestic flight when flying Delta Airlines by simply checking an empty tote bag. With millions of views, the viral TikTok video could help mitigate the frustration of extra costs for savvy, in-the-know Delta passengers.

Delta's 20-minute baggage claim policy

Delta offers a little-known perk for passengers who check a bag on a domestic flight. If your checked bag doesn't reach the baggage carousel within 20 minutes, you're entitled to 2,500 Delta SkyMiles. As earning miles seems to have gradually gotten harder in the last few years, this simple policy from Delta is pretty appealing. At large airports, 20 minutes is a small window of time, so it's likely your checked bag will take longer than the allotted time more often than not.

Cashing in on this policy, Janelle began checking an empty tote bag, knowing that the checked tote bag would almost assuredly help her earn 2,500 miles each flight. "Bags are always late," Janelle said in the comment section of her TikTok video. "The commitment is 20min from when the aircraft door opens to my bag arriving to the claim. I get the miles almost every time!"

The value of Delta SkyMiles

Earning 2,500 Delta SkyMiles by standing around the baggage claim for a few extra minutes is a pretty good deal. And through her credit card, Janelle receives one free checked bag with her flights, so she isn't spending anything to earn these airline miles. However, even if you didn't receive a free checked bag and you're flying with a carry-on only, the "empty tote" hack would still be financially worth it.

Currently, Delta charges around $30 for your first checked bag on domestic flights and $40 for a second checked bag. Still, Delta SkyMiles are actually more valuable than many other airlines' frequent flyer miles. SkyMiles is currently worth about 1.5 cents each. This means the value of 2,500 SkyMiles is around $37.50, so you'd make $7.50 in SkyMiles each time you paid for a checked bag that didn't make it to the carousel on time. That's great!

However, we recommend trying the travel hack sooner than later. As the video continues to go viral, we wouldn't be surprised if Delta eliminates or changes its 20-minute baggage claim policy.