Though Memorial Day was the Monday of last week, soldiers returning from duty at Afghanistan yesterday felt quite unwelcome due to $2800 of unexpected extra baggage fees by Delta Air Lines on their flight to Atlanta from Baltimore.
After an 18 hour layover at Baltimore, an army unit of 34 soldiers, travelling on orders that allowed them four checked bags each free, were surprised to find that they had to pay $200 out of pocket for their fourth bag. Some of the soldiers were carrying military equipment as part of their luggage. Unanticipated for the charge, Lt. Colonel spent hundreds of dollars covering the expenses of other soldiers who could not pay. Most of the soldiers were unable to supplement the cash they have with credit cards, because of the rarity of credit card use in Afghanistan.
In their frustration with the Delta agent's unwillingness to comply with their military orders, two soldiers on board the flight, O'Hair and Hilliker, let out their irritations through a video on YouTube, which received more than 170,000 pageviews. The public outcry that resulted after the video's debut led the government-contracted Delta Air Lines to issue an apology on their blog, reaffirming how deeply Delta respects and admires the men and women who fight every day for our country.
The sudden financial hardship on the soldiers will continue to inconvenience them for weeks until they are reimbursed by the Defense Department through a tediously slow process. Privates who live on very scrawny paychecks are affected the most with this kind of inconvenience, sources say.
Delta Air Lines updated their apology post today stating that they have revised their guidelines to allow each military personnel to bring one additional bag and more flexibility regarding weight and size, effective immediately.