Should Airlines Charge Deploying Troops For Their Baggage

August 1, 2008

Since the fuel prices have skyrocketed over the past few years, we’ve all noticed that our pocketbooks are considerably lighter once we leave the gas pumps. Just this summer, the airlines reported that they planned to begin charging passengers for their checked baggage. Unfortunately, Troops who are training to deploy or deploying have a lot of gear that they have to pack for their deployment. It often takes at least 3 or more large bags to pack all of that gear. You’d think, since these men and women are serving our country, that the airlines would give our Troops a break. Unfortunately, that’s not the case.

Recently, SSG Ashley Serrano walked up to the American Airlines counter in El Paso on Friday, with three bags full of his required gear and wearing his uniform. He was told as he went to check in his luggage, that his third bag would cost him $100. When he explained to the people at the counter that he was traveling to Camp Bowie, which is where the Texas National Guard soldiers train for their deployment, they told him that the Army should have given him a voucher. Another Soldier who was traveling with Serrano had 3 extra bags and was charged $300.

“I have flown Southwest, Continental and when they saw me in uniform, they didn’t even ask,” Serrano said. “I flew American a couple of times before, but I never had this problem.”1

The fact that many of the Troops who are deploying are lower enlisted, which means that their paychecks aren’t a whole lot, doesn’t seem to matter. It doesn’t matter that these young men and women, might not be financially able to pay that kind of hefty fees, to check their required military gear. You’d think, as much military business that the airlines get, that they’d not charge extra. Often when a brigade is deploying, an entire airplane is reserved to transport those Soldiers; in other words, no civilians on their flight. You can bet that the airlines charge the government a nice chunk of change to do that.

In an email response, American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said that American Airlines allows servicemembers to check 1, 100 lb duffle type bag, 1 standard sized 50 pound suitcase and one standard carry-on weighing up to 40 pounds. He says that policy has been in effect for the past 5 years. Since June 15th, civilian travelers are required to pay a $15 one way fee for the first checked bag. For the 2nd checked bag, civilians are charged $25 and $100 each for the 3rd, 4th and 5th checked bags. According to American Airline policy, military travelers are allowed larger and heavier bags then their civilian counterparts.

“I am not aware of any ability by our agents to waive an excess-baggage fee, even for military personnel – since they already have the common checked bag fees waived in our policy,” Wagner said. “Otherwise, our policy is very generous as you can see, and intentionally so. We’re very proud of our military forces – so we’re pleased to be able to help.”2

In my opinion, this is a travesty. Hopefully the military and the airlines can work this out, so that our deploying Troops aren’t charged for baggage when they’re enroute a combat zone. Each bit of equipment that they have to take with them, is taken for a reason.

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14 Responses to “Should Airlines Charge Deploying Troops For Their Baggage”

  1. Pepe Johnson on August 1st, 2008 9:38 am

    It doesn’t surprise me coming from American Airlines. I recently flew American from Dallas-Fort Worth to Reagan National and back. They have some of the worst customer service I have ever seen. Though AA is a private company, their bureaucracy is just as bad as the federal government.

  2. A Bitter Stewardess/Ticked-0ff American on August 1st, 2008 5:01 pm

    As a flight attendant for a major US carrier (not American) I just have to say I am absolutely appalled! God knows corporate gives less than a damn about those of us who are out on the line and not upper management (that 30% paycut is but one of many fine examples!), but for the love of God, to know that this is how they thank the many men and women who risk life and limb to make sure it’s even safe for us to take those birds into the sky in the first place?!!! I didn’t know their corporate greed could sink any lower. How dumb am I.

  3. Terri on August 3rd, 2008 4:58 pm

    It’s pretty sad, huh? We appreciate your caring about our Troops. Your job, like theirs is often a very thankless job. I’m sure the airlines would do much better with more of you and less of the upper management, in fact I know they would.

  4. Linda on August 12th, 2008 6:21 pm

    I just heard on the news and looked this up that soldiers were being charged extra for baggage fee. I am ashamed to think that a corporation would stoop so low. If indeed they need the money to stay operational they can deal with the government to get reimburse but not ask the soldiers to pay the fee and try to get reimbursed. I hope everyone quits using American Airlines or any airlines that has such a policy. They are a disgrace.

  5. Richard on August 12th, 2008 6:37 pm

    I think your chargeing soldiers for their baggage returning to war is a slam on them and this whole country. However ; I just returned from a trip on the airlines after 40 years of non flying and what I saw made me sick of all airlines. Some of you need to go out of business or get your act togeather!!!!

  6. why on August 13th, 2008 12:07 am

    I agree that the soldier should not pay the fee himself, however, the American TAXPAYER not American AIRLINES should foot the bill. The government could easily pre-pay the airline. The airline companies are not the American Red Cross, they exist for a profit. The President chose for our country to engage in war, so as Commander in Chief, he needs to cover the cost of doing war. Our country is already trillons of dollars in debt, so why not proceed with covering this soldier’s 100.00 fee?
    So, you all must think that if a soldier shows up at Fedex or UPS they will send his belongings for free? I doubt it. The government would pay.

  7. Carol Clark on August 13th, 2008 7:06 pm

    Does’t any Airline have the balls to say “We will not charge any military for their luggage”.

    This would be a great way to get everyone’s respect and other airline passengers!!!

  8. Valerie on August 14th, 2008 11:04 am

    This is despicable…it is utterly shameful, and the American ppl should be outraged about this !! Write or call your state Reps and bitch, bitch, bitch…I just did !!!

  9. ok on August 14th, 2008 11:38 am

    AA anounces that they will no longer charge for the 3rd bag. Hope everyone is happy. Should they go further and waive bags fees for bags 4-1000?

  10. Terri on August 14th, 2008 4:22 pm

    I saw that on the news today and my thoughts are that it’s about time. Unfortunately it took having the story in the news and bloggers making sure the information was out there, for people to call and express their outrage. I can guarantee you Mr/Ms ok that most Troops traveling to combat zones are carrying probably 4 bags tops, and yes those bags are packed full. But that’s not even close to the amount of equipment that they have to take with them. Much of their equipment is packed into conexes and shipped over. That which is deemed as essential, is carried with the Soldier.

  11. Valerie on August 14th, 2008 4:45 pm

    Originally Posted By okAA anounces that they will no longer charge for the 3rd bag. Hope everyone is happy. Should they go further and waive bags fees for bags 4-1000?

    AA and every other airline should go even farther than that … ANY military personnel should fly completely free. They shouldnt even be required to purchase a flight ticket…their flight should be courtesy of the US govt.

  12. Terri on August 14th, 2008 7:51 pm

    I totally agree Valerie. I don’t have a problem with my tax dollars supporting our Troops and the jobs they’re doing.

  13. Valerie on August 14th, 2008 8:21 pm

    Terri…we are on the same page !! But hey what do I know…. I am but a mere peasant that pays taxes for the govt to aid other countries and spend on policing the world ;-)

  14. Kristen on August 14th, 2008 9:03 pm

    It is absolutely ridiculous to charge active duty military for extra baggage. Most have enough expenses to worry about without having to be burdened with more money problems. My husband was in the military for 28 years and not once did he have to pay for extra baggage. Isn’t it enough they are putting their lives on the line to protect our country? Now we are going to “charge” them for our freedom? It makes me sick.

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