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Squawks & HeadlinesSoldiers' $2,800 in bag fees spark outrage

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Soldiers' $2,800 in bag fees spark outrage

CNN -- Delta Air Lines says it's sorry "for any miscommunication" after U.S. Army soldiers returning from Afghanistan complained that they were charged almost $3,000 in bag fees by the carrier. (www.cnn.com) More...

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mark tufts 0
c'mon delta get with the program as these servicemen and women fought for freedom and delta give these guys a break
whys everybody up in arms these expenses are reimbursable and themonies keep the economy going
Daniel Baker 0
The article mentions "Delta explained that active-duty U.S. military personnel traveling on orders can check up to four bags in First/Business class and three bags in coach for free on both domestic and international flights." and links to a page that says:

"Active duty U.S. military personnel traveling on orders to or from duty stations are allowed up to four checked bags in Economy Class and up to five checked bags in First and Business Class on Delta and Delta Connection® carriers at no charge. Each bag may weigh up to 70 lbs. (32 kg) and measure up to 80 linear inches (203 cm). "

So, it appears that Delta may have changed their web page or policy after this incident. I don't see what the big deal is since the government is reimbursing the soldiers. I don't think it's the responsibility of private companies to do things for free for the federal government.
Chip Hermes 0
sheka, it's not giving them a break, it would be giving the federal government a break. with your argument, why make them pay for tickets at all?
Root User 0
I'm curious why military personnel aren't travelling via C-17 or C-130?
My guess would be the bar service is better.
Chris Bryant 0
I love the fact that Delta talks about how many free bags they'd get traveling First/Business class. That would be great, except there's no way they'd be allowed to travel at that level without a couple thousand extra signatures on their travel orders.
As for the reimbursement, the issue is they have to fork out the money (which some guys might not have) in the first place and then wait 30-90 days (or more, perhaps), for the stupid paperwork to go through.
Daniel Baker 0
@rootuser the private sector can do transportation much cheaper.
Chip Hermes 0
chris13, the problems that you're describing are the military's fault. is it delta's fault that the soldiers had the wrong info or that the military is slow to reimburse? ridiculous

i don't want to screw over the soldiers at all, but i don't see how this is delta's problem? you think delta could be reimbursed the $3K if the invoiced the military for their mistake? ha...
First class or Business Class for GI's on travel orders? They deserve it but in what universe does that happen??
Daniel Baker 0
@xmacfly I think they were just explaining the full policy and that there are that there are variable limits.
"I don't think it's the responsibility of private companies to do things for free for the federal government." -Daniel Baker

Well said!
Daniel Baker 0
Now there's [http://flightaware.com/news/ap/Delta-bag-fees-for-soldiers-ignites-backlash/69273 an AP story on the matter]. It seems that Delta changed their policy to avoid the unavoidable, irrational backlash.
Joel Rodriguez 0
Hmmm... Waive $2800 in baggage fees or garner tons of negative press???

Regardless if the US Government reimburses these service men/women, the press will eat this up, and a majority of Americans will side with the soldiers. Sometimes, its not all about business, and common sense should be utilized.
kyle dunst 0
Why should a private company have to pay for transporting troops' baggage? Should every restaurant let them eat for free just because they are in the military?
The process is broken from the git go. First, DOD and the Carrier(s) have to recognize these are servicemen returning home from an active theater, meaning they have gear.

If they are issuing travel orders for four bags, then perhaps instead of putting the servicemen or women in the middle, the Carrier(s) and DOD should have used some foresight and provided vouchers much the same way they handle the fare costs.

I believe it inappropriate to demand out of pocket payment by military traveling under orders.
Joe Sayers 0
I just cut up my Delta FFN card .... if this was an over-site on their part, then this just shows that Delta does not think things through. I do know when the military travel, their PNRs (Passenger Name Records) are documented as such and that there should be no additional fees applied other than what our government paid for their passage.
That'll show 'em!
Bogush 0
the basic requirements of human decency is missing in all that we do today, it starts at work where integrity and honesty has been left by the wayside, as buyers and sellers - our word has no value. Our soldiers coming from war from whatever country lack our pride in what they did yesterday and are doing today - we ought to be ashamed of ourselves - what ever happened to human dignity, pride, respect, treating others as we would want them to treat us. I just love the following words by JFK
'ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country"

what have we done lately that would make us all proud - if anything it is these young kids going off to war giving of themselves 100% and than Delta hitting them with this charge - some of them are coming back in body bags - is there a surcharge for that too ???? Shame on you DELTA - Shame on all of us for letting this happen even once.........
Shame on us for letting our politicians send them off for no reason!
Keith Foreman 0
Soldiers shouldn't have to pay to travel period. They are making a huge sacrafice so that we have the freedoms that we enjoy.
nothing is free
Bogush 0
but is free - dom worth fighting for and dying for ? - MAtt do you live in the good old USA or are you writing from some place in the middle east ?
Chip Hermes 0
You're right, Boguslaw Wysocki, if the government wants to go to war and not pay for military aircraft, then private airlines should pay for ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING even if it means losing money or going out of business. *eyeroll*
I think it is curious when airlines waive so many fees and provide vouchers to even customers who have never flown but yet get free ticket vouchers , dinner vouchers, etc. If this was a civilian I would say business as usual but this is our American Soldiers who deserve some thanks even the menial cost of bag waivers.
This can be fixed very easily. The military could negotiate a fair fixed price for a soldiers fare and each person would receive a boarding pass without any personal cost. Troops should never be forced to pay for travel back and forth to active duty. Enough personnel have been transported so far to make it possible to come up with a figure that would work. It's not like every airplane is full of soldiers. The airlines would lose very little, if anything. It is not right for a soldier to pay his own way to the battlefield.
Al Chanz 0
JFK did indeed said that... but today Obama says "it's not what the politicians can do for you it is how much you can give the politicians... yes you can!
Got a source for that quote, Al?
toolguy105 0
The problem here is two fold. The agents in Baltimore were not properly trained in dealing with a contract fare. The Army Officer in charge of the movement was either not available or was not properly informed of how to deal with this type of situation.

Delta and other Airlines that contract to carry military personnel need to train their agents how to deal with U.S. Government Contracts. No two contracts are alike. Yes the news was all a glow with Airline announcements yesterday saying what the military baggage limits for them would be. Two months from now some agent that does not at an airport that does not regularly deal with military movements will forget and charge some poor soldier excess baggage fees.

It does not cost the Airline anywhere near what it charges to carry an extra bag. A simple policy covering all contract fares would suffice. Count the number of bags the the contract passengers is checking, fill out a form and send it to contracts department. Let the airline contracts department and the Government contracting Officer deal with the excess baggage charges as negotiated in the contract. Then the government can deal with the individual making the movement.

Simple, no hassle for the contract person making the movement; easy for the agent(s) to remember.
Kirk Almquist 0
DOD is required to use COM air if available, (the military's primary airlift mission is to fly cargo). There is a GOV rate... but it's not what you would think it would be (similar to what big business pay). Most military members that are being deployed have required gear to carry. I can tell you that the Air Force has it packaged into two bags if going to a location that has pre-position gear or, if not it's four bags (this is issue gear, not any personnel stuff). So if your going down range for any amount of time additional bags of personnel stuff add up in a hurry. Most will have stuff mail to them and will than mail it home at the end of a deployment, and a BIG thanks to the USPS's for those fixed rate boxes. And the statement about the fees being reimbursed is mostly correct, DOD will pay for the "Issued" gear bags, not personnel.
Al Chanz 0
Matt... are you serious? Wake up boy!
Al Chanz 0
As I read all your comments I am really disappointed!
It's not the sinking ship but who is sinking the ship that matters.
Government should pay? It's the government's responsibility? Good heavens where do you think they got their fiat money from? You pilots are flying high aren't you? You've been sucking up too much thin air men... go get a refill!
Ann Boyer 0
toolguy105 has the most concise answer and the best explanation of how everything started unraveling at the get go. Untrained DL agent, inattentive or untrained officer in charge. And some really angry soldiers with a cell phone, which by the way, I believe is against airline policies to activate one in flight.
Delta, does upgrade military,free of charge, if they have open seats in business and the military personnel are in uniform on one of their regular flights.
They also have been informed that when military travel, they care everything from gear to weaponry and everything in between and so every so often you still get someone at the checkin that doesn't understand, "kick it upstairs" if you don't know the policy. Ask for clarification and not the credit card.
Bobby Rhett 0
The commercial airlines fly soldiers day in and day out. MOST flights are not going in or out of theater. Most flights are for training. Soldiers leaving their base to go across country for a week or 3 of training or school do not need to carry four bags. The 3 bag limit is for this reason. All airlines do this.

The problem is that returning from theater following deployment is a different story. Soldiers coming back have required gear to carry, as well as anything that was not shipped in advance. So the soldiers who are bringing home souveniers and gifts typically pay for extra bags. There is no reason for the government to pick up the tab on that. In this case, it sounds like the government failed to issue vouchers or arrange for the required gear that was coming home. No doubt some soldiers would still have extra bags to bring (those with 5 bags), and they should expect to pay for those.
Bobby Rhett 0
I wonder if this means my brother can carry 2 bags for me on his next flight to Denver...He will only have 2 bags (1 required, 1 personal), and now the airlines will let him have 4. Great of YouTube to promote ripping off the airline so I can get free shipping services, huh?
Still no source, Al? Just made that quote up for grins? I like facts not opinions.
markaz 0
Were you in the draft lottery, Adolf?
John Scott 0
I actually agree with Delta in this case. I am Air Force, and understand the deployment process and the pain involved with flying excess bags. The way the media portrayed this incident is that the soldiers were paying for thier 4th and 5th bags out of thier own pocket--that is not the case. Delta allows 3 free checked bags for military on orders in economy class. The military can authorize more than that allowance on orders. When doing so the military does not prepay the airline for those bags. The servicemember is required to put the excess bag fee on his or her GOVERNMENT TRAVEL CARD, not thier own card, file for reimbursement from finance, and thier finance will pay the Government travel card. It costs money to fly these excess bags, money that the airlines are entitled to be compensated from the government. The Army needs to train its deploying soldiers on standard airline allowances and protocol.
John Scott 0
One more thing to clarify: The US Service member must be on military orders to receive the baggage allowance for Delta (and most other US Airlines). Leisure and other business travel while not on orders does not qualify for the baggage allowance. American Airlines does make an exception to let allow all US Military 3 free bags, and 5 when on orders. I believe civilians and contractors traveling on orders do not qualify for the baggage allowance, although some agents my extend the courtesy to them.
Ric Wernicke 0
Charging for bags is just a sneaky way to advertise lower fare prices. It is time to change the rules that allow omitting taxes and fees from price quotes, as well as baggage, agent, printing fees and the like. I want to return to the 2 piece system for everyone included in the fare, and the airlines should give an extra 3 free bags to military in partial exhange for all the services they receive from government for free.

That fact that there is an incremental cost to fly bags should be included in the price of the ticket, not be made a "gotcha" at the gate. The same goes for meals, use of the toilet, and talking to an employee of the airline. Pretty soon there will be a fee if you don't print your boarding pass at home, and another fee to move your bag from the ramp to the baggage claim.
Kristen Foley 0
God Bless our soldiers and what they do and all they sacrifice. All the other petty garbage doesn't matter. A bag fee for soldiers is ridiculous. If it were so critical to the airlines' revenue, you can bet first class would be paying too. Clearly the Government needs a better travel plan and clearly the airlines need to gain a conscience.
These men and women put their lives on the line everyday for our Freedom,come on people,they should not be paying for bags on a flight!!!
Thomas Moritz 0
kyle dunst - oye, maybe they should eat free.
Joe River 0
The soldier is incorrect about the baggage fees. Because the JFTR the soldier of official travel orders does not have to pay for the excess baggage. they have a number of excess bagage authorides in their travel orders. In the soldier excees this allowance, yes their have to fork out the extra bagg fees. Normally the soldier carries 4 combat gear bags and 2 personnal or civillian attire for the long combat zone stay. so they may have 6 bags aouthorize for the trip. However the soldier my buys a lot of suveniers and an additional bag is required and he or she is responsible to pay for that bag. The comment and the and the baggage fee saga is unwarranted from the soldier. He is immature and disciplinary action is required. for 2 reason he did not cleared his statement via the proper military channels.
Joe River 0
I agree with John Scott comments. he is correct
Spot on John Scott....

Delta is in the businesss of passenger transportation. That' how they make their money to stay profitable and stay in business. The government is responsible for transporting these troops. They (the government) should not be given any special treatment because they choose to do business in a foreign country. However Delta and many other airlines extend courtesies to our troops.

I have compasion and respect for our troops (I use to be one of them), but I volunteered to serve my country and I was paid accordingly. Should I get a free ride for everything I do because I'm a service member?

Pay the fees and get your reimbursement and let private companies decide how they want (or don't want) to charge their customers.
John Scott 0
I am not a fan of having to pay checked bag fees by any means. However, the rising cost of fuel over the past five years had made it almost necessary. Most of you on here know it takes more fuel to carry extra weight. Checked bags fees on economy class discounted tickets are one way to recoup the cost. Most airlines still allow for one or two free checked bags with the purchase of a full fare cat Y economy class ticket. In most cases a cat Y economy class ticket is really what someone should be paying for the cost of their seat, however they usually cost more than one is willing to pay so they opt for discounted economy class. Discount economy allows for someone traveling on a budget to do so, but discount economy comes with more restrictions than full fare economy such as: checked bag fees, change fees, etc. For the member that made the statement about first class passengers for checked bags: The first class passenger has already paid for those checked bags--either in the price of the ticket or their loyalty to the airline. All of that said; please remember the service member does not pay for checked baggage within their order allowances--only the US Government. The service member has a Government Travel Card to charge allowable excess baggage fees to. The soldiers were not a victim in this case, only misinformed.
The Government reimbursing the Airline is not kosher. Who do you think the Government gets it's Money from? It's the Taxpayer that foots the bill.

Back when I was in the USAF and traveled on orders. The Ticket was paid for by the USAF and Extra baggage was shipped vie Railway Express or by Grayhound to your next assignment unless Overseas where you flew on a C-130 or another USAF Transport. When Discharged you got a ticket to your destination of record where you enlisted from and you shipped Personal Items that you did not give away or sell at your expense.You also could shoose to travel POV, and get reimbursed for mileage or on a Bus or RR.

No Serviceman should ever have to pay when traveling on Orders, domestic or abroad.
markaz 0
I wonder how the Viet Nam vet is digesting all this patriotism?
I am one of those Vietnam Vets.
Chip Hermes 0
Your logic is nonsense, Al. Just because the government gets their money from the citizens doesn't mean they shouldn't have to pay for anything. If that were true, why bother collecting taxes at all?
Markaz for your Information I ENLISTED and was in Basic Training 10 days later. I also reenlisted after coming back from Overseas. Where were you? Todays Military is all Voluntary. I think that we should reinstate the DRAFT.
markaz 0
Adolf - I was in the draft lottery and sure enough, my draft lottery number was No. 1 (March 6 in the '72 draft). Was classified 4F with a complete tear in my left knee. I most certainly wasn't excited about going to Nam but at the same time disappointed that I couldn't be in the military under any circumstances. Wanted to be a chopper pilot.
Too many friends returned home changed, and not for the better. To see them and retruning vets spit on and accused of being murderers was something I won't forget. Bring back the draft? ....absolutely.
Now that Delta has their neck in the sling, how does it feel? The charge per extra bag, $200, doesn't seem to be a big one, just try to consider that after "BEING DEPLOYED ON ORDERS" not many of the soldiers have the funds to pay for that extra charge.I just hope that soldiers should realize that flying DELTA is not good.
The most basic function of government is to protect its people. We pay our taxes, in part, to support our men and women of the United States Armed Forces.

This whole mess should be between the DoD and Delta, military personnel traveling on orders should not be involved in the process beyond being transported from point A to point B, period. Those who think taxpayers shouldn't have to pay, and that our men and women in uniform should pay, need to leave this country, now. Those who think Delta should eat the extra cost, at a time when every airline is struggling to stay in business, should stay out of business and economics.