Really, AA? I Mean... Seriously???
Well, so much for being able to report
a nice story about a US airline, without that
same carrier providing its own sad counterpoint.
Regardless of whether it's a time of war or not, it is a
longstanding tradition among American businesses to cut a break to
traveling US servicemen whenever possible. That tradition is
officially out at American Airlines... and one of the nation's
largest veterans groups is telling the airline to straighten up and
The Washington Times reports American recently charged two
soldiers from Texas $100 and $300 respectively to check their extra
duffel bags, and defended the practice by pointing out that the
fees are eligible for reimbursement. Or, as airline spokesman Tim
Wagner explained, "Because the soldiers don't pay a dime, our
waiver of the fees amounts to a discount to the military, not a
discount to soldiers."
Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joseph Davis counters that
service members headed for a war zone should not have to worry
about filing expense reports when they get there, or pay the fees
out-of-pocket in the meantime.
"That's a lot to ask when the service member has much more
important things on their minds, such as staying alive and keeping
those around them alive," Davis noted.
The VFW is asking the Air Transport Association to ask its
members to exempt military personnel traveling on official orders
from all excess-baggage fees. "This should not be a very difficult
decision to make," Davis pointedly added.
Actually, it may be. ATA President and CEO James May says the
association cannot legally even suggest what airlines do with their
individual fares and fees, but adds, "...we will bring this matter
to their attention for their independent consideration."
The Times found policies vary among carriers. Delta and
Northwest will take two bags up to 70 pounds in the cargo hold at
no charge. Even fee-happy US Airways -- which appears to be a
half-step away from charging for pressurized cabin air -- allows
military personnel with ID free luggage up to 100 pounds.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce told the paper soldiers receiving
travel orders should make sure excess baggage is authorized, then
submit a receipt for reimbursement.
"We appreciate the VFW's help in assisting soldiers," Boyce
said. "It would certainly make it easier for soldiers, but there
are other ways to help them recoup their money for Army