Delta Unfairly Criticized Over Baggage Fees For Troops?

June 27, 2011

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Last month, Delta airlines got a lot of heat for charging service men and women for their fourth checked bag when they are flying home. They had already waived the fee for the first three bags, but their system and policy was that a fourth bag was $200. Delta quickly changed that policy and went further to waive the baggage fees for family members traveling with service men and women. This decision was made to recover from the bad publicity that surrounded the initial exposure of these fees via a YouTube video made by some service men as they were flying home on board a Delta flight.

So far, everything in this story is just fine. An airline had a policy to charge for baggage as is allowed via free commerce. Some service men complained about the fees, exercising their rights of free speech. The general public and the news media supported the service men, exercising their rights of free speech and freedom of the press. Delta dropped the fees to avoid loss of customers, again exercising free commerce.

Last week, Representative Jeff Denham (R-CA) introduced a resolution in the United States Congress to stop the fees. To quote Fox News who paraphrased the representative “those commercial airlines that refuse to do so could have their contracts reevaluated”. The resolution calls for “all airlines to provide military personnel with priority boarding, waivers of all baggage fees and priority seat preference when available”. I find this appalling. The federal government is trying to establish what fees a company can charge for services by fiat rather than negotiations and basically get something for free.

The United States military has plenty of airplanes and other vehicles to use to get our service men and women deployed and returned to their homes. The choice has been made to use commercial airlines. This is a good choice, but comes with responsibilities that the military has failed to fulfill. The United States Military has an obligation to negotiate fares and fees with the airlines for the services rendered. They (the United States Military) have the obligation to get our service people home, not the airlines. If the fares and fees have not been negotiated, it is unacceptable (to me) for the government to then strong arm and entire industry into un-compensated service.

I agree that our service men and women should not be paying these fees. I also do not think that these fees should be paid for by the airlines and therefore their non-military customers. The government has sent these men and women into a deployment, they should get them home. The government is more than willing to shell out millions of dollars to a fake Taliban representative, but skimps on the baggage fees of our military personnel.

If we take this situation to the extreme, why not pass a resolution that states that airlines must provide free seats to military returning or deploying. Now when they get to their destination, the taxis should provide free rides to their houses. And why not throw in free meals along the way. It is one thing when companies choose to give benefits to military families as part of their image building, it is quite another when they are forced to provide by government command.



One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Jun 27, 2011 @ 08:13:48

    I’m in agreement with you. My understanding of the situation from the new reports is that the trooops were being told that four bags were allowed, but the contract was for three. That’s a communications breakdown that the military needs to address.

    I think re-evaluating the contracts is a good idea. If the government wants something different than what’s in the contract, then renegotiate them.

    Another comment I heard was that althought the fee for the extra bag was a reimburseable expense, it would take a while for the military to reimburse the soldiers. I have no idea why Delta would take the blame for inefficiencies in this process …

    This is a problem that could have been fixed pretty quickly with a couple of lawyers. (Wow – that’s a sentence you don’t hear very often …)


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