Delta Under Fire For Troop Baggage Fees
Delta Air Lines hastily changed its baggage fees for troops Wednesday after a YouTube video showed soldiers complaining that they had to pay $200 a piece to check extra bags as they made their way home from Afghanistan.
The video was posted Tuesday and was viewed almost 200,000 times before it was removed by the person who put it up. By Wednesday afternoon, the Facebook page Boycott Delta for Soldiers had sprung up, and the airline was backpedaling and apologizing to the soldiers.
In the video, „Delta Airlines Welcomes Soldiers Home,“ two Army staff sergeants say their unit was told it would cost $200 a piece to check a fourth bag on a Tuesday morning flight from the Baltimore-Washington airport to Atlanta – a total bill of more than $2,800.
The Defense Department typically reimburses such costs, which the soldiers may not have known. But they made their displeasure known, and the public-relations damage to Delta was done.
In the video, one sergeant, Robert O'Hair, wearing a camouflage uniform and sitting inside the plane, says his fourth bag was a weapons case containing an M4 carbine rifle, a grenade launcher and a 9-millimeter pistol that he had used in Afghanistan.
„The tools I used to protect myself and Afghan citizens while I was deployed,“ O'Hair says.
With a bite to his voice, the other sergeant – Fred Hilliker of Allendale, Mich. – closes the video: „Good business model, Delta. Thank you. We're actually happy to be back to America. God bless America. Not happy, not happy at all. Appreciate it. Thank you.“
Initially, Delta apologized to the soldiers but didn't change its policy.
As the storm of online complaints about the incident grew, the airline posted a blog item Wednesday saying fourth bags will now be free for troops traveling in economy class and five bags will be free for those traveling in business class.
In a blog post, Delta said it regretted „that this experience caused these soldiers to feel anything but welcome on their return home.“ Airline officials declined to answer further questions.
Petra Vaškových, Jun 16, 2011
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