Troops Billed For Baggage

News
Wednesday, June 8, 2011 - 3:01pm

Airline hits soldiers returning from Afghanistan with $3,000 excess baggage fee.

A Colorado soldier says he and his fellow troops got an unfriendly welcome home from Delta Airlines Tuesday.

The troops say they paid nearly $3,000 in excess luggage fees on a flight home from Afghanistan.

Staff Sgts. Hilliker and Robert O'Hair shot a video while onboard Delta Airlines flight 1625 Tuesday morning.

They later posted the video on YouTube.

Hilliker and O'Hair are members of U.S. Army Detachment 62, part of the 95th Division out of Oklahoma, which includes two companies out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

They returned Tuesday from a nearly year-long deployment in various regions of Afghanistan.

The soldiers were returning to Fort Polk, Louisiana.

O'Hair says their Army orders authorized four bags.

When they arrived at the Delta ticket counter, the soldiers claim they had to pay $200 each for the fourth bag.

"We had four bags. Delta airlines only allows three bags," O'Hair said. "We had to actually end up paying, out of pocket, our own money. Over $2,800 and there's only 34 of us soldiers."

The troops say those extra bags were not packed with souvenirs.

"For me, it was a weapons case, holding my M-4, grenade launcher, and 9mm," O'Hair said. "The tools that I used to protect myself and Afghan citizens while I was deployed."

O'Hair's wife, Darnelle O'Hair, lives near Brighton with their young daughter.

She says money is tight for military families.

"Just complete shock," she said. "I could not believe that they felt that $200 from however many soldiers were boarding that plane, was more important than just getting them on the aircraft, getting their baggage on the aircraft, and getting them home."

Airline spokeswoman Betsy Talton sent NBC affiliate KUSA a statement, which read:

"Delta has great appreciation for our military and offers flexibility for active duty U.S. Military Personnel traveling on orders with up to four complimentary checked bags in First/Business class and three complimentary checked bags in Coach."

Talton did not respond for an email request for an interview.

The unexpected expense has the soldiers feeling unappreciated.

"Not happy," Hilliker said. "Not happy at all."

Those soldiers now have to turn-in their baggage receipts to the Army.

They will eventually be reimbursed.

American Airlines faced a similar situation in 2008, when it was widely criticized for charging troops excess baggage fees.

The airline eventually agreed to waive the fees.
 

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