A team of returning soldiers from Afghanistan was hit with an unpleasant surprise upon their arrival into the United States yesterday morning. The squadron, bringing a full load of gear with them back from the Central Asia was sacked with the baggage fees in place at Delta Air Lines, which, despite the agreement that they have with the armed forces charged the soldiers extra baggage fees.
In sum, the group spent nearly $2800 in baggage fees for their gear, money that had to come straight out of their pockets.
Obviously a policy is in place between the airline and the armed services that permits soldiers returning from war to bring back all of their gear without cost. What’s likely is that an uninformed agent at the connecting airport didn’t know about the rule and charged the group. Either way, Delta should fix the error and refund the fees.
UPDATE: Delta’s policy states that for military members, THREE checked bags are allowed in coach and FOUR checked bags are allowed in first, so the baggage fees may actually be correct. Whether Delta’s policy is palatable or not is another question, but it appears that the agents were charging the servicemen properly.
UPDATE 2, 11:34PM EST, 6/7: Delta just posted a blog article discussing today’s situation in which they discuss their policy. Specifically they state:
In the case of today’s situation, we would like to publicly apologize to those service men and women for any miscommunication regarding our current policies as well as any inconvenience we may have caused. We are currently looking further into the situation, and will be reaching out to each of them personally to address their concerns and work to correct any issues they have faced.
You can read Delta’s full post here.
UPDATE 3, 12:47pm EST, 6/8: Delta has updated their baggage policy:
ATLANTA, June 8, 2011 – Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today increased its free checked baggage allotment for U.S. Military traveling on orders in Economy Class to four checked bags.
Delta’s revised baggage policy also allows U.S.military personnel travelingon orders in First and Business Class to check up to five bags at no charge. This change also adds dependents traveling with active military on orders. Each bag may weigh up to 70 lbs. (32 kg) and measure up to 80 linear inches (203 cm), which offers added flexibility over the standard 50 lbs. and 62 linear inches (157 cm) allotment. Because of weight, balance and space constraints, Delta Connection carriers will accept up to four bags at no charge.
For personal travel, active military presenting military identification may now check up to two bags weighing 50 pounds (23 kg) or less and measuring 62 inches (158 linear cm) or less in combined length, width and height without charge.
Previously, Delta’s policy allotted three free checked bags in Economy Class and four in First and Business Class for military members traveling on orders.
Details of Delta’s baggage policy are available on delta.com.
[thanks to reddit user redheaddeb for the tip]