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December 25, 2018 12:00 PM PT

Alaska Airlines Baggage Fees

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Like most major airlines, Alaska Airlines charges for checked bags - here's what you need to know before you fly.

© tomasdelcoro (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

Offering travel mainly around the West Coast, Alaska Airlines does have flights to other locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica. When you fly with Alaska Airlines, be prepared to pay for checked bags as well as additional fees for overweight or oversized bags.

We'll be covering a wide variety of topics and specifics to ensure that you know exactly what to expect--no matter what you decide to bring along on your trip.

Baggage Basics

If you can travel light, do it - Alaska Airlines allows each passenger one carry-on bag and one personal item for free. The carry-on must fit in the overhead bin and your personal item has to fit under the seat in front of you.

Alaska Airlines recently changed their baggage fees starting December 5, 2018.

Prior to this, checked bags cost $25 for the first and second bag and $75 for any additional bags for any flights. Flights booked BEFORE December 5th, but take place AFTER the change, (e.g. flight for Dec. 24 booked on November 12th) will follow the original fee structure.

After December 5 2018, the baggage fees will be $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second bag and $100 for three or more bags.

All fees are non-refundable and per leg of the trip.

Checked Bags

Traveling light isn't always an option but thankfully, Alaska Airlines has straightforward baggage fee policies - $25 for the first and second bags and $75 for the third bag and beyond. For any flight you book after December 5, 2018, the baggage fees increase to $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second and $100 for three or more bags.

You can pay for your checked bags online during check-in, at any airport check-in kiosk, and at any airport ticket counter.

The following items do not count toward your checked bag allowance and fly free:

  • Strollers and car seats
  • Pineapple from Hawaii
    (one properly packaged box from Honolulu, Kona, Maui or Kauai)
  • Mobility and medical devices

Mileage Plus members are also allowed one protective-packaged case of wine to fly for free when departing from these airports:

  • Burbank
  • Fresno
  • Los Angeles
  • Monterey
  • Oakland
  • Orange County
  • Ontario
  • Palm Springs
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • San Luis Obispo
  • Santa Barbara
  • Sonoma
  • Boise
  • Eugene
  • Medford
  • Portland
  • Redmond
  • Bellingham
  • Pasco
  • Pullman
  • Seattle
  • Spokane
  • Walla Walla
  • Wenatchee
  • Yakima

Be sure to get to the airport in plenty of time before your flight, as Alaska Airlines does not accept checked luggage less than 40 minutes before the flight for domestic itineraries and 60 minutes for international flights. You cannot check in any earlier than four hours before your flight as well. Exceptions include Vancouver, which only excepts bags three hours before departure and Calgary, which only accepts bags two hours before departure. Check Alaska Airline's Airport Guides to find the specifics for any airports in your travel itinerary.

If your flight includes a stopover of 12 hours of more, you'll have to claim and re-check your luggage, paying the baggage fees again.

Carry-on Bags and Personal Items

The best way to save some money on baggage fees is by carrying on your luggage. Alaska Airlines allows one carry-on and one personal item per person traveling.

In June 2018, Alaska Airlines changed the maximum size for carry-on bags to 9"H x 14"W x 22"L, including wheels and handles. All three lengths may not exceed 45".

Some items can exceed the maximum carry-on size but must still fit in an overhead bin. These items also count toward your one carry-on bag limit. They include:

  • Human organs
  • Art/advertising portfolios
  • Paintings
  • Scientific equipment
  • Fishing poles
  • Small musical instruments
  • Purse
  • Briefcase
  • Laptop bag
  • Diaper bag

Items that don't count toward your carry-on or personal item allowance:

  • Coats and hats
  • Umbrellas
    (compact size that easily fits into an overhead bin, under the seat or in a suitcase)
  • Pillow for personal use
  • Food for immediate consumption
  • Reasonable amount of reading material

TSA states that passengers may bring along aerosols, liquids and gels in a carry-on - they must be 3.4 ounces or less and be in a clear, quart-sized plastic bag. Any of these items purchased in the airport, beyond the security checkpoints, are allowed on board as well.

Horizon and SkyWest Flights

Alaska Airlines also operates Horizon and SkyWest flights, which come with their own baggage policies. Many of Horizon and SkyWest's planes are smaller, with less overhead bin storage, and so your larger carry-on bags may not fit. If this is the case, the gate attendants will check your bag to be placed under the plane during the flight. You can retrieve gate-checked bags at the gangway when you land.

Before you give your bag to the gate agent, remove any items not allowed in checked bags and carry them on-board with you.

Credit Cards That Offer Baggage Credits

One way to avoid paying for checked luggage is to become an Alaska Airlines credit card holder. Passengers with the following Alaska Airlines credit cards qualify for the first bag free, second bag for $25 and three or more bags for $75 per bag, good for the cardholder and up to six passengers traveling on same reservation:

  • Alaska Airlines Visa
  • Alaska Airlines Visa Business
  • Alaska Airlines World Elite MasterCard

After December 5 2018, the cost for the second bag will be $40. Three or more bags will be $100 per bag.

Several non-branded cards can be used to help cover baggage fees, including the American Express Gold, a CreditDonkey partner:

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    This card includes benefits for travelers: There is no foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees) and a $100 airline fee credit to cover up to $100 per calendar year in incidental fees (such as baggage fees) at one selected qualifying airline. Terms apply.

  • American Express Platinum offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $5,000 on purchases with your new card within the first three months of opening your account. You earn 5x Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. This is a charge card so you will have to pay your balance in full each month. There is a $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees).

    This card includes several benefits for travelers: This card offers Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings. This card also offers up to a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year to cover baggage fees and more at your selected qualifying airline. This card gives you access to 5 airport lounge networks including The Centurion® lounge network, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® lounges, Priority Pass(TM) Select, and Airspace Lounge. Enrollment required for Priority Pass Select. There is no foreign transaction fees (See Rates & Fees). This card also gives you access to Platinum Card® Concierge. You can enroll to get complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status and complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status. Terms Apply.

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    This card earns 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. The points can be transferred 1:1 to leading frequent travel programs including airline transfer partners. The card has $0 foreign transaction fees. The card comes with access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select. There is a $450 annual fee.

Other Ways to Avoid Baggage Fees

Spending money on luggage fees means less money for your trip. Avoid paying checked, oversized and overweight fees with these tips.

  • Become an elite member: Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan members are given numerous perks, including free baggage credits. Elite level members and companions on their reservation are allowed two free bags. Club 49 members can travel with two free bags as long as they travel to or from an Alaskan city. For the third bag and beyond, it's $100 per bag, per leg of the trip.

  • Travel with just a carry-on and personal item: Because Alaska Airlines does not charge for carry-on bags and personal items, if you can pack light, you can save hundreds of dollars in baggage fees.

  • Book a higher-class ticket: First-class passengers are given two free checked bags, with the third bag and any other beyond that costing $75 per bag until December 5, 2018, when it's $100 per bag.

  • Choose your destination: Passengers going to Guadalajara are only charged $30 for the first bag, $40 for the second bag and $100 for any bags three and beyond. If you travel solely within the state of Alaska, you're allowed up to three bags free, with any additional bags costing $100 a piece.

  • Measure your bags ahead of time: All Alaska Airlines ticket counters and gates have bag measurement sizers so you can check the size of your bag. This is will save you from oversized fees for having a bag that's too big. It will also help you avoid having to check your carry-on at the gate and pay the checked bag fee because your carry-on is too big. You can also weigh and measure your bags at home with a luggage scale.

  • Take advantage of packing tips and tricks: Rolling up clothing, using vacuum-sealed bags and wearing as much as you can on the plane can save you space in your luggage. When planning your outfits, choose versatile pieces that you can mix and match, limiting the number of items you need to pack.

  • Purchase a lightweight suitcase: Buying a new lightweight suitcase can help cut down on the chance of being overweight and paying the extra fees. Many new suitcases also have flexible storage spaces that allow you to pack more efficiently.

  • Be active military or a dependent: Active duty U.S. military personnel receive baggage credits when traveling on orders and for personal reasons. A valid military ID allows active duty personnel up to five free bags with a cost of $100 per bag for bag six and beyond. Bags can weigh up to 70 pounds and be as large as 115" without any overweight or oversized fees. Military dependents with a valid military ID and travel orders have the same baggage allowances.

  • Ship your luggage: Consider sending your luggage ahead of you through FedEx, UPS or the United States Postal Service. Numerous companies, such as LugLess and Luggage Forward, specialize in shipping luggage, with fees varying depending on size, weight, distance and how soon you need it to arrive.

  • Condense luggage: Families traveling together can avoid luggage fees for each person by condensing all their belongings into just one or two bags. Since car seats fly for free, purchase a car seat bag and fill it with the car seat as well as other belongings, saving you some room in your suitcase.

Overweight and Oversized Bags

Sometimes you might have to pack a lot for your trip but thankfully, Alaska Airlines allows oversized and overweight bags. You'll have to pay for them, though - $75 for each overweight or oversized bag. If a bag is both overweight and oversized, Alaska Airlines only charges the $75 fee once. After December 5, 2018, the overweight and oversized fee is $100 per bag, per leg of the trip.

Alaska Airlines considers any bag 51 to 100 pounds as overweight and any bag 63" to 115" as oversized.

Alaska Airlines does not allow any bag over 100 pounds or 115 linear inches.

Seasonal Baggage Limits

During peak travel times, Alaska Airlines limits the number of bags each passenger may travel with when traveling to certain cities. Passengers may have no more than two checked bags when traveling to:

Dillingham, Alaska:
June 6 - June 30

Dutch Harbor, Alaska:
May 27 - June 30 and December 26 - January 3

Guadalajara, Mexico City:
November 15 - January 15

King Salmon, Alaska
June 6 - August 30

Alaska Airlines flights 2000-2999 and 3300-3499 do not accept pets in the cargo hold from November 15 to November 27 and December 13 through January 3.

Special Items

Antlers: Allowed as checked baggage when wrapped in shrink wrap or plastic with tips padded. Cannot exceed baggage maximum size limits.

Alcohol: The percentage level of alcohol will determine exactly what and how you can pack it.

  • Over 70% (140 proof): restricted completely.

  • 24% to 70%: allowed in checked bag, up to five liters per person and must be in retail packaging.

  • Under 24%: allowed in checked bag, no restriction on amount.

Note: Some Alaskan cities prohibit the possession of alcohol. Check the policies for each city on your itinerary to avoid trouble with the law.

Baby items: Pretty much all baby items are allowed in checked luggage or as a carry-on.

  • Breast milk: Allowed as a carry-on and in checked bags.

  • Car seats: One per child traveling; does not count toward carry-on; travels free as checked bag.

Dry/wet ice: Different types of ice have different limits and rules to abide by.

  • Gel ice: No limit on volume when in checked luggage; no more than 3 ounces when carried on, unless used for medical items.

  • Dry ice: Allowed in carry-in and checked baggage up to 5.5 pounds total and you must mark the package with the contents, words "dry ice," and the net weight of the dry ice.

  • Wet ice: Only allowed in carry-on to maintain human organs or tissue samples and must be in a sealed plastic bag.

Electronic smoking devices: Allowed in carry-on as long as in safety mode. Smoking is not permitted anywhere or anytime on the flight.

Lithium batteries: Allowed in carry-on bag and checked bag, as long as it's installed in the electronic device. Loose batteries and batteries in chargers are not permitted in checked bags but may be placed in carry-on bags as long as the terminals are covered.

Matches/lighter: Allowed in carry-on bag; one book of safety matches or one lighter per passenger.

Perishable items: Allowed as checked baggage as long as properly packaged to avoid spoilage and damage. Package with enough dry or gel ice to keep items cool for at least 48 hours.

Portable oxygen concentrators: Can be used during the flight without advanced notice, but must be an FAA-approved model:

FAA Approved Portable Oxygen Concentrators:
Any POC with a permanent label stating that it meets FAA criteria is accepted, along with any of the below mentioned.

  • AirSep Models
    • Focus
    • Freestyle
    • Freestyle 5
    • Lifestyle
  • Delphi RS-00400
  • DeVilbiss Healthcare iGo
  • Inogen
    • One
    • One G2
    • One G3
  • Inova Labs Models (Also known as International Biophysics)
    • LifeChoice
    • LifeChoice Activox
  • Invacare Corporation Models
    • SOLO 2
    • XPO2
    • Oxlife Independence Oxygen Concentrator
    • Oxus RS-00400
    • Precision Medical EasyPulse
  • Respironics Models
    • EverGo
    • SimplyGo
  • SeQual Models
    • Eclipse
    • eQuinox (Model 4000)
    • Oxywell (Model 4000)
    • SAROS
    • VBOX Trooper

Sharp objects (knives/box cutters/etc.): Allowed in checked bag as long as stowed properly and safely.

Smart Bags/Self-propelled luggage: Allowed as long as the passenger can remove the battery without using a tool. When brought as a carry-on, the battery can stay attached but must be removed and placed in protective bag when checked.

Firearms: Must be unloaded and carried in a locked, hard-sided container. When retrieving weapons after a flight, you'll need a photo ID and claim check.

Ammunition is also allowed (up to 50 pounds for domestic flights and 11 pounds for international) as long as it's packaged securely.

Canada and Mexico do not allow passengers to transport handguns in or out of those countries.

Wheelchairs: Wheelchairs, canes, crutches and other assistive devices are allowed on-board as carry-ons. You can also check your personal wheelchair at the ticket counter or the gate free of charge.

If you check at the ticket counter, Alaska Airlines has loaner wheelchairs available for use in the airport. An electric wheelchair with a lithium battery must have the battery removed and properly packaged during travel.

Some aircraft have room onboard for one folding wheelchair - make arrangements ahead of time to assure you get that one spot if you want your wheelchair onboard with you.

Sporting Equipment and Musical Instruments

Whether you're a professional athlete or musician or you just need to travel with your own sports equipment or instrument, Alaska Airlines has special rules regarding these items. Sports equipment and musical instruments qualify as checked baggage as long as they are packed in a soft or hard-sided case specifically made for that equipment.

Each of the following items count toward your baggage limits, but do not incur any oversized or overweight fees:

  • Archery
  • Bicycles
  • Boogie boards
  • Bowling
  • Golf clubs
  • Skis/Snowboard
  • Hockey/Lacrosse equipment
  • Pole vaults
  • Scuba equipment
  • Skateboards
  • Surfboards/Paddleboards

Note: Kayaks can fly on Alaska Airlines but not Horizon Air or SkyWest - overweight and oversized fees apply to all kayaks. No glass kayaks allowed.

These items count as one item when checked together:

  • Skis/snowboards: One pair of skis or one snowboard with poles and boot/helmet bag.

  • Fishing equipment: Two rods, two reels and one tackle box.

  • Hockey/lacrosse: Hockey/lacrosse sticks (taped together) and one equipment bag.

  • Pole vaulting: One or two poles.

  • Scuba: One gear container and one tank.

  • Windsurfing: One board and one mast, boom and sail.

Camping Equipment: Things such as stoves, portable heaters and liquid lanterns are only allowed if the fuel system is completely dry. Self-heating meals are not allowed at all and matches and lighters are only allowed in your carry-on.

Musical Instruments: There are a lot of different options for instruments - purchase a cabin seat baggage ticket, check it, or carry it on if it's small enough to fit in the overhead bin. Musical instruments that you check must be in a specifically-designed case and cannot weigh more than 165 pounds. They cannot be larger than 150 linear inches for Alaska Airlines flights 1-1999 or larger than 115" for Alaska Airlines flights 2000-2999.

Instruments that weight 51 to 165 pounds fall into the overweight category, costing $100 per item. Any instrument 63" to 150" on Alaska Airlines flights 1-1999 cost $75 and 63" to 115" for flights 2000-2999 and 3420-3499.

Restricted Items

The TSA places limits on what items are allowed on flights, but Alaska Airlines also has its own restrictions. The following items are never allowed on any flight, in checked bag or as a carry-on:

  • Hoverboards/gilders
  • Electric unicycles
  • Camping/outdoor equipment
  • Explosives
  • Flammable liquids or solids
  • Household items/cleaners
  • Internal combustion engines
  • Marijuana
  • Pool chemicals
  • Pressurized containers
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 7

As of June 2018, you may not bring powder and powder-like substances over 12 ounces into the cabin when traveling from Canada, Costa Rica or Mexico.

You cannot bring pottery, glass and wood on board a flight departing from Mexico. Printer and toner cartridges are not allowed on any flights to or from Canada.

Traveling with Pets

When your furry friend must make the trip with you, Alaska Airlines does allow pets to travel. The way your pet travels - either in the cabin or in the baggage hold - depends on its breed and size. The cost for a pet traveling with you is the same either way, $100 per pet per leg of the trip.

In-Cabin Pets: Pets traveling in the cabin must remain in their kennel the entire flight and must be stowed under the seat in front of you.

Each passenger is allowed one kennel, with up to two same-breed animals inside. The kennel counts as your personal item or carry-on. If you need to travel with more than one kennel, you must purchase a seat for the additional pet.

Kennels can be a max of 17" x 11" x 7.5" and can be hard or soft-sided.

They should be lined with bedding or towels to absorb accidents and have adequate ventilation.

Baggage Hold Pets: When your pet is loaded safely in the baggage hold, you'll receive a "Relax, I'm on board too" card to assure Fido is safe and sound.

Pets must have a signed health certificate from a vet within 10 days of traveling.

Alaska Airlines has partnered with Banfield Pet Hospitals to offer free pet health exams and discounted health certificates for Alaska Airlines passengers. All animals must be at least eight weeks old. Baggage hold kennels must contain enough food and water for the flight

Note: Because the Airbus fleet does not have heated cargo spaces, pets cannot travel in the cargo compartment on these flights. They cannot fly in first class either because of size constraints.

Because space is limited in both the cabin and baggage hold, call ahead and make reservations for your pet in plenty of time.

Alaska Airlines Pet Support:
Pets Traveling with You:
1-800-ALASKAAIR (1-800-252-7522)

Pets Traveling as Cargo:
1-800-2ALASKA (1-800-225-2752)

Brachycephalic or "short-nosed" dogs and cats cannot fly in the baggage hold of any Alaska Airlines aircraft because of the potential for breathing problems. These breeds include:

  • American Pit Bull
  • American Staffordshire Terrier
  • Boston Terrier
  • Boxer
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bull Mastiff
  • Bulldog
  • Bull Terrier
  • Chow Chow
  • Dutch Pug
  • English Bulldog
  • English Toy Spaniel
  • French Bulldog
  • Japanese Boxer
  • Japanese Pug
  • Japanese Spaniel
  • Pekingese
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu
  • Staffordshire Bull Terrier
  • Burmese
  • Exotic Shorthair
  • Himalayan
  • Persian

Service and Emotional Support Animals: Alaska Airlines allows passengers to travel with a service or emotional support animal, as long as the animal is small enough to fit at the passenger's feet or on their lap. They must not occupy a seat or tray table, block the aisles, or behave badly.

Accepted Service Animals Include:
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Miniature Horses

Accepted Emotional Support Animals include cats and dogs only.

All required forms - the animal health advisory form, mental health form and animal behavior form - must be turned in before departure.

Because Hawaii is completely rabies-free, the state only allows service dogs and emotional support cats or dogs with proper health documentation.

Lost and Damaged Luggage

No matter how careful an airline is with your baggage, mistakes and accidents do happen. Alaska Airlines takes care to remedy any lost or damage luggage issues as quickly and easily as possible.

If you leave something on board a flight, complete the Left Onboard form and Alaska Airlines will contact you if it's found.

If your bag doesn't arrive or arrives damaged, file a report as soon as possible with an Alaska Airlines agent in baggage claim or by calling the baggage service claim office at the airport where you arrived. You'll need to file the report within 24 hours for domestic flights and seven days for international flights.

Put an ID tag, business card or other form of identification inside all your checked bags, carry-ons and personal items. You can download baggage tags from the Alaska Airlines website and save some time during check-in.

Any lost bag cases not located within five days are automatically transferred to the central baggage service office, which will file a lost luggage claim. The maximum amount Alaska Airlines pays out for domestic flights is $3,500. They reimburse $9.07 per pound for international flights based on the Warsaw Convention.

You can purchase additional valuation to cover any loss that exceeds the maximums at a cost of $1 for each $100 of value, up to $5,000. If you must purchase essentials while waiting for your luggage, keep all receipts to file with your lost baggage report.

Alaska Airlines does not cover loss or damage to:

  • Cash
  • Jewelry
  • Cameras and video cameras
  • Electronic equipment and devices
  • Binoculars, telescopes and optical devices
  • Precious metals, stones or materials
  • Art objects or sculptures
  • Artifacts
  • Irreplaceable items
  • Furs
  • Game trophies, antlers or pelts

Alaska Airlines is so committed to getting your baggage to your destination safely and on time that it offers a 20-minute baggage guarantee. If a passenger's bags don't show up in baggage claim within 20 minutes of their arrival time, Alaska Airlines offers them a $25 voucher for a future flight or 2,500 Mileage Plan miles. Claim your voucher or miles by filling out the baggage service guarantee voucher.

Cabin Seat Baggage

Sometimes items are too large to fit in the overhead bin but too fragile to travel as checked baggage. In these instances, Alaska Airlines offers cabin seat baggage, allowing passengers to purchase a seat to store these items during flight. The cabin seat baggage requires a regular ticket, charged at 100 percent of the adult base fare plus 6.25 percent cargo tax. You can only book these tickets by calling Alaska Airlines reservations - the airline recommends reserving as early as possible to assure you get a spot.

Self-Tagging

To help passengers save time and stress less, Alaska Airlines offers self-tagging at numerous airports it services in the United States. Self-tagging allows each passenger to print luggage tags at home or at one of the self-tagging airport kiosks.

The process is easy - check in online or at the kiosk, pay for any checked bags if applicable and print your tags. You can then fasten the tags to your bags in the self-tag holder and drop off at the designated baggage drop areas near the Alaska Airlines ticket counters. Self-tag holders are found at the baggage drop-off areas or you can request to have some mailed to you before your flight.

Bottom Line

Alaska Airlines allows all passengers one free carry-on bag and one free personal item. The first checked bag costs $30 and the second $40 after the price changes on December 5, 2018. The third bag and any above three cost $100 per bag, per leg of the trip. To save money on baggage fees, it pays to be an Alaska Airlines credit card holder or elite Mileage Plus member.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. This site may be compensated through the Advertiser's affiliate programs.

For rates and fees of the American Express Platinum card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express Gold card, please click here.

More from CreditDonkey:


How to Earn Alaska Miles Fast


Alaska Airlines Credit Card Review


How to Travel with Pets

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    Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve are great for travel as they both have no foreign transaction fees. But there are some differences you need to know. Read on before you take off.

    Southwest Airlines Early Bird Check-In Worth It?

    Unlike other airlines, Southwest uses a first-come, first-serve basis for getting a seat. That means Southwest passengers can't choose their seat ahead of time.

    Southwest Baggage Fees

    Southwest prides itself on providing customers lots of extras without the extra costs. Here's what you need to know for your next flight on Southwest.

    United Baggage Fees

    It's hard to keep up with all the changes around baggage fees. Here's all you need to know about United's baggage fees.
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