Baggage Fees For Returning Military Creates Outrage

By Maureen Mespell

June 8, 2011 Updated Jun 8, 2011 at 11:02 PM EDT

Indiana’s NewsCenter) -- It's a YouTube video, turning out to be a public relations disaster for Delta Airlines.

NBC’s Tom Costello reports:

The soldiers had just returned from Afghanistan.

Staff Sergeants Fred Hilliker and Robert O'Hair, returning home with their unit, forced to pay for excess baggage from Baltimore to Louisiana, because they each had four bags, rather than the three they were allowed

Staff Sgt. Robert O'Hair says, “For me it was a weapons case, holding my M4, M203 grenade launcher and a 9mm. The tools I use to protect myself and Afghan citizens while I was deployed in the country.”

Delta charged each soldier $200.

Staff Sgt. Robert O'Hair also says: “How much did our unit end up paying out of pocket? Over $2800 and there's only 34 of us.”

Back home in Colorado, Sgt. O'Hair's wife says they're on a very tight budget

Darnelle O'Hair says, “And so, when we are told that $200 is going to come out of our own pocket for something that should be paid for by our job it does, it is a financial burden it really is.”

While Pentagon rules allow for the soldiers to be reimbursed, there was instant outrage on the internet today.

On the Stars and Stripes website, one reader wrote:

They're our armed forces! There should be NO CHARGE, no matter how many bags they have.

And on Nightly Facebook page:

This is just wrong in so many ways.

They should be moved to first class.


Shame on Delta.

Delta got the message.

This afternoon, it increased its free bag allotment for all military traveling in coach from three to four bags.

Coincidentally, this comes the VERY DAY a new JD Powers survey finds customer satisfaction with the airlines has improved, but passengers are tired of all the extra fees.

The top rated airlines:

Jet Blue, which doesn't charge for the first bag, and Southwest, which has no baggage fees.

The bottom three:

US Airways, United and Delta, which charged the soldiers $2800 in extra baggage fees, only to pay a heavy price for the bad press.

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