Thirty-four U.S. soldiers returning home from the war in Afghanistan were charged $2,800 in baggage fees by Delta. The incident came to the attention of the media when a couple of the soldiers uploaded a video documenting the trouble to YouTube.
“We showed up and found out we had too many bags,” said Army Staff Sgt. Robert O’Hair in the video, quoted in a Huffington Post article. “We had four bags, and Delta Air Lines only allows three bags. Anything over three bags you have to pay for.”
Each soldier with a fourth bag was charged a $200 fee, adding up to a total of $2,800 the soldiers had to cover out of pocket.
“Our troops are deployed to war for months at a time — they aren’t packing light for a weekend on the beach. Delta shouldn’t be sending the signal that it puts profits ahead of the men and women in uniform. They need to immediately stop charging returning troops for bag checks, and fully reimburse those who already have been charged,” VoteVets.org Chairman and Iraq war veteran Ashwin Madia said in a statement quoted by the article.
In response to the negative press generated by the incident, Delta changed its baggage policy for U.S. service members, which now allows four free bags for soldiers traveling on orders.
“A $200 bill for extra baggage by a government-contracted airline is the worst welcome home any soldier could receive,” said Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, in a statement quoted by the article. “We know this is a business issue and that the troops will be reimbursed if they are authorized additional baggage in their orders, but the shock of even being charged is enough to make most servicemen and women simply shake their heads and wonder who or what it is they are protecting.”