American Airlines Thinks It's "Generous" To Charge A $100 Excess Baggage Fee To Soldiers

Let’s say you are in the military and have to undergo some training before you are deployed to Iraq to fight in a war. Let’s also say that this training requires to you bring 3 bags of equipment. If the airline you’re flying charges a $100 “excess baggage” fee, but waives the $15 first checked bag fee, and the $25 second checked bag fee… is that “generous?”

American’s policy allows military personnel “one checked 100-pound duffel-type bag, one standard checked 50-pound suitcase and one standard carry-on suitcase of up to 40 pounds.” They’re getting “a total of 190 pounds of free luggage,” said airline spokesman Tim Wagner, in an e-mail to the El Paso Times.

Staff Sgt. Ashley Serrano doesn’t see it that way. He says that other airlines see his uniform and waive their baggage fees. “I have flown Southwest, Continental, and when they saw me in uniform, they didn’t even ask,” Serrano said. “I flew American a couple of times before, but I never had this problem.”

Serrano said he was confronted Friday at the El Paso International Airport with a demand for $100 for his third bag, and when he mentioned he was headed for Camp Bowie – where Texas Army National Guard soldiers train before deployment – he said they told him, without a smile, that the Army should have given him a voucher. Serrano’s fellow soldier and traveling companion had three extra bags and was charged $300, he said.

“I am not aware of any ability by our agents to waive an excess baggage fee, even for military personnel – since they already have the common checked bag fees waived in our policy,” [an American Airlines spokesperson] said. “Otherwise, our policy is very generous as you can see, and intentionally so. We’re very proud of our military forces – and many of our employees began their flying careers with the military – so we’re pleased to be able to help.”

Serrano doesn’t seem to think the policy is generous.

“You couldn’t fit it all into two (checked) bags if you tried,” he told the paper.

Airline baggage fees hit soldier flying out of El Paso for training [El Paso Times] (Thanks, Gabe!)
(Photo: benh57 )

Comments

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  1. scerwup says:

    Wow, that IS generous! It’s nice to see that the airlines aren’t too shameful to try and screw… I mean help out our soldiers.

  2. dragonfire1481 says:

    It’s like the airline industry is trying to rack up as much bad publicity as it possible can.

    What an insult to the military.

  3. dorianh49 says:

    That warms the cockles of my heart.

  4. I can’t think of a better reason than this to cancel my Admirals Club membership.

  5. egelston says:

    I deployed 3 times when I was in the military…each time I had to fly out of Atlanta. I had 4 bags, and an M16 case. I was charged almost $200 dollars every time. fascist

  6. B says:

    Doesn’t the army have their own planes? Why are they flying commercial?

  7. hustler says:

    I can’t think of a better way to pay back the nation which bailed you out.

  8. Ein2015 says:

    I think they shouldn’t be calling fees generous at all.

    However, I don’t think they’re required to waive any of them, right?

    Either way, I’m peeved that they thought this was “generous”.

  9. Ein2015 says:

    @B: The army flies commercial a lot. It’s a lot easier to send trainees home in 20 different commercial flights than in just one or two military flights.

  10. Japheaux says:

    I remember heading to Saudi Arabia about 15 years ago. The Air Force chose to fly me commercial and of course I carried extra bags of chem suits, flak jacket, helmet, and several sets of desert uniforms.

    Forget the headache of getting out of Newark on the day before Thanksgiving, but Continental informed me I was going to have to pony-up $35 a bag for the 3 extra bags I had. It was at a time before the military handed you a credit card–so cash really was a factor. It sure would have been nice to get a little slack in a situation like that, but I understand it is a business.

    But hey, it could have been worse….it could have been a Delta flight and I could have dies on the shitter.

  11. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Considering the US Government bail-outs of commercial airlines, military should get 100% free rides.

  12. RickinStHelen says:

    I hate to side with American here, but . . . if you are on official travel, you will get reimbursed by the Government for the fee. It isn’t a private business’s duty to subsidise the Government. If a service member went into a steak house and said “you charge everyone else $50.00 for a meal, but I am in the military, so you should only charge me $25.00″ would that be okay? A government employee cannot take advantage of an offer that is given to them only because of thier position as a government employee. So while it may seem that American is being evil and unAmerican (sorry) here, they really are not. The baggage has a cost to move, and it is not unfair that they pass this cost on to the consumer.

  13. Onouris says:

    It’s an airline…. Why are people expecting anything other than charging as per usual?

    Do you not read your own blog and the posts about airlines?

  14. fashionista says:

    @Ein2015: That was my first thought, too. What the heck is “generous” about having to pay? You would think that airlines would be supportive of those in the Armed Forces and not charge at all, but, alas, I guess we’re all feeling the crunch of higher oil prices.

  15. thefastest says:

    @RickinStHelen: Does it really cost them $140 to move those bags? I doubt it. I’m curious how much it would have cost to have those bags shipped via UPS or FedEx. If you really think that it costs $140 to move those bags on a plane that is already flying somewhere, but UPS or FedEx charges less, are they doing their service for a loss? Doubt it.

    By the way, you’re a douche.

  16. Youthier says:

    @Ein2015: I agree with you. This is NOT generous but I’m not sure they need to waive them.

    Of course, AA could use a little good press so they may want to rethink it.

  17. photomikey says:

    Fail out of highschool? Can’t even get into community college? No skills to get a job? Join the army! Then you’ll be ENTITLED to get free stuff, all the time! Airlines waive fees, then you can bitch about fees they don’t waive! Sit in the airport bar wearing your uniform, and wait for an old codger to buy you a drink, thanking you for your “service”! Don’t worry that you fill vending machines on obscure army bases… it’s the ARMY! It’s a CAREER!

  18. PunditGuy says:

    @photomikey: The Army — Protecting your right to post unfunny stuff on the interwebs, 24/7.

    My brother’s in the Navy, but screw you anyway. Damn, I’m ashamed to be a Liberal sometimes.

  19. bobpence says:

    @photomikey: Wow, I agree with your conclusion yet you make yourself look like a complete jerk in giving it. You need a high school diploma to get into the military; they sometimes still will accept a GED. The young men and women who choose to serve are not the dregs of society. “Halp us fotomiky weir stuk in Irak!”

  20. ibored says:

    @applekid…

    just what I waes thinking. I think they shoudl debit their next bailout $400 for these poor guys.

  21. Corydon says:

    @photomikey: Hey Mikey…why don’t go get yourself a frickin’ clue there bud.

    Not everyone has mommy and daddy to pay for their education and some of us actually believe in spending a few years out of our life in service to something other than ourselves.

    Incidentally, this former groundpounding infantryman managed to graduate with a 4.0 and an invitation to join Phi Beta Kappa. So let’s see your mad skills there bub.

  22. kepler11 says:

    for all you who shout at anyone who questions doing anything that doesn’t “respect” the troops or seem patriotic enough –

    The point is that from the story, the airline has set a limit of 190 pounds in baggage for military personnel going to duty. What are you saying it should be instead? Unlimited?

  23. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @photomikey: This commenter has been disabled, so other folks, please don’t feel you need to respond to this troll’s comments.

  24. HFC says:

    @RickinStHelen:
    Exactly. Every time I flew commercial while in the military I paid what they asked and was later reimbursed after filing my travel voucher. That’s the way it works. Being given perks for being military is nice, expecting them is pretentious.

    Of course I was in the military during a period of time when it wasn’t popular to “support the troops.” Saying you support the troops isn’t supporting troops. You know what I would have liked for support? Give my wife some cash while I’m deployed. How about you babysit the kids so she can get away for an evening? You know what I don’t care about? A letter from a stranger telling me they support me. Random people posting in blogs that they support the troops. Words are words, actions speak louder… so does cash.

  25. matsayz says:

    not siding with AA but most military do get GTC(Gov’t Travel Cards) to travel with and use for expenses just like this or something in their orders. now if the Sgt forgot he had it…thats one thing. but making comments on how your company is “generous”, blah i dont think so. i’ve flown commercial on official orders and had no problem with bags and have been bumped to first class for free when in uniform. ITS NICE! something you wont have for MONTHS!! thanks for being generous! why the Sgt didnt use his GTC who knows or why his orders didnt have something saying baggage fees would be refunded who knows, probably something overlooked.

    @kepler11: i think people are saying it should be a uniform policy throughout all airlines…what do YOU think it should be since you asked the question?

  26. Corydon says:

    @kepler11: Personally, I was responding to the absurd generalizations of the commenter, not the post, so let me give my take on the situation mentioned in the post.

    Let me make an analogy: if you get sent by your company on a business trip, then your company has the obligation to cover your expenses when you travel.

    In the same way, if this particular soldier needed to bring three bags on the flight for all of the equipment needed for the deployment, the Army and the airline should have sorted out the details in advance (the military generally doesn’t give out credit cards unless you need to travel commercially routinely).

    I understand that some businesses will ask their employees to cover any incidental expenses out of pocket and then get reimbursed. Given the fact that the salary paid to enlisted personnel is considerably lower than what most people make in the private sector, this really isn’t a reasonable option here.

    So the real problem is with the Army—they should have ensured that the baggage charges were covered in advance. Secondarily, I would fault the airline for not being a little more flexible considering that this soldier was going on a deployment. Considering just how new these baggage policies are, I’m surprised they don’t give their employees a little more discretion to be flexible.

  27. byrdclaw says:

    You mods suck for disabling that commenter… Be all you can be WITHOUT the army! Just cause this guy CHOSE a line of work that puts his life in danger for no reason doesn’t give him any special treatment in my book.

    Let’s all focus on the actual issue of airlines screwing over their own customers and ignore the media spin added to this please. This person being in the army has no bearing on the issue of airlines passing the buck to their customers.

  28. Average_Joe says:

    Who paid for the ticket? The army or the soldier? Huge difference between the two. If the army bought it, it is official travel and they shouldn’t pay anything for the luggage. If the soldier did, this falls under private travel with a military discount voluntarily given to the person by the airline. I don’t think airlines should be footing the bill for fees that the military should be paying for.

  29. It is called “Bump your baggage and haul air packages for small package shipping companies willing to pay premium price for goods flying across country.”

    Yes, the airlines are still flying packages. And making money. Why in hades should they give away what others are willing to pay a premium for?

    BTW, I have done the day trip flights (LAX to SFO, DFW to HOU etc) and never needed to check a bag. Shouldn’t I get a discount for not having luggage?

  30. RickinStHelen says:

    @RickinStHelen: So I am a douche for pointing out that the Military reimburses Soldiers, Marines, etc for the cost of the bags? I am a douche becase I pointed out that as an employee of the Government, you are not allowed to recieve benefits that the general public can’t just because you are employed by the Government? And I am a douche because I pointed out the airlines have a cost involved in moving the baggage? Wow, I guess I shouldn’t have spent 10 years in the Army, and the 15 years in non-profit and public service jobs.

    I support the free enterprise system. A business should not be pressured into giving breaks to the Government, just because it’s the Government. This applies to a local coffee shop being “encouraged” to give free coffee to a cop so they will respond to a call quicker, or a large corporation being “encouraged” to give a break to a Soldier flying on official business. The incident was not a 18 year old kid trying to get home on leave, but rather a Soldier reporting on official business.

    You may not agree with the charge, but there is nothing evil about it. You are always free to fly another airline.

    Douchefully yours, Rick

  31. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    @thefastest: Name-calling is inappropriate. Do not do this again.

  32. strife1012 says:

    In his Military Travel orders it should state that he is allowed excess baggage. This also includes all information pertaining his flight.

    As for Government Credit Cards, no one likes dealing with Bank of America, Neither do I. I have never gotten a Government Credit Card, its BoA. Yes, they overcharge the Government too.

    He has to get his Flight Confirmation through: Carson Wright Travel Agency from Fort Hood, TX.

    SGT Martinez, Sean T.
    Texas Army National Guard
    36th ID
    Network Technician 25B

  33. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @B: Re: Military as a people carrier; Pan Am flew many times more soldiers during Vietnam than the Air Force did. Military logistics aircraft can’t carry more than a few dozen people typically – and then in very uncomfortable quarters (think nylon webbing seats, LOTS of noise, and very little insulation) – so commercial carriers typically fill the gap for troop logistics while C-5s, C-17s, and C-130s move equipment, which doesn’t seem to care how cold or noisy it gets during the 14-hour flight to Ramstein.

    ATA airlines was forced out of business because their military contracts fell through – your tax dollars were the only thing keeping them flying.

  34. ffmariners says:

    Would we be complaining if a Senator was charged for excess luggage?

    A public servant is a public servant…

  35. My husband was sent to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for training before he was sent to Iraq. He had a SH*TLOAD of equipment in his green army duffel bags, probably 3 of them, plus a backpack as a carry on – 90% army. He would of been reimbursed with a travel voucher granted, but he took a pay decrease and he might not of been able to come up with $300 in one shot for his luggage.

  36. CaliforniaCajun says:

    @photomikey: In most airports, the military folks just go to the USO.

  37. katylostherart says:

    so with that basic starting pay of 1340/mo gross this is of course affordable.

    christ it’s not as if the extra bags are full of 28 bathing suits because they couldn’t decide which one made them look best.

    don’t fly american.

  38. hc130radio says:

    C-130′s have nylon webbing seats and only have legs for about 8-12 hours max. C-17′s and C-5′s have traditional airline seats that can be installed in the event that cargo is not hauled. Also, C-130′s, C-17′s and C-5′s are insulated and have heating and A/C.

    Also, during Vietnam the merchant marines carried troops overseas.

    And FYI, ATA sucked. Go to the FAA website and track their on-time stats as well as their lost baggage stats. The DoD was the only thing keeping ATA limping along as long as it did.

    Additionally, I’ve always been reimbursed for excess baggage when charged. If a airman, marine, sailor thinks they’ll have excess baggage, the USPS can handle it.

  39. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: senators get paid A LOT more. considering the basic payrate for an enlisted man caps out at about 6500/mo and that’s with 20 years experience and getting to e9, this is pathetic. i haven’t met one enlisted person that made it over e4 on a short enlistment (4-6 years).

    this is just taking advantage of guys that don’t have a choice on where they’re going. or really the choice is go or be awol and face jail time. this isn’t a family vacation. this is necessary equipment that cannot reasonable be repurchased and won’t be provied.

  40. katylostherart says:

    reasonably*

  41. picardia says:

    I can see that maybe the airline needs to get paid for hauling the bags, but they could directly bill the government (enough soldiers are flying all the time that this could easily be standardized) rather than nickel-and-dime each soldier, who has undoubtedly got bigger things to worry about on the way to Iraq or wherever.

  42. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: Ok, would you care if they charged a senator’d staffer the excess baggage fee? Many of them make < $30k.

    It is not our job to pick WHICH public servants get breaks. None of them do. That is the easiest way, our tax dollars wind up paying for it in the end anyways.

  43. kepler11 says:

    The reason I’m asking what the appropriate amount of baggage to be allowed for free for military personnel is that as soon as anyone questions whether the soldier should have some limit to the amount of bags for free, or any such benefit, and should operate in the same rules that we all do, they are labeled as “not supporting the troops” or something very accusatory. Even the way this story itself is phrased by Consumerist takes this bias (and I don’t particularly like what Consumerist is doing here) — how dare American Airlines charge a soldier for checking bags over the limit.

    So, what is the amount of free luggage that American should have set, so that you wouldn’t be questioning their patriotism if they charged for baggage in excess of that? I suspect the answer is that you will always blame the airline if you find out it charged for even the slightest thing that you perceived was not “respecting the troops”.

    And that is the problem — this kneejerk “support for the troops” is that as soon as you start questioning it or trying to get them to behave within rules too, you are labeled a jerk.

    Military personnel are not all heroes. They aren’t all diving on grenades to save their comrades. Many of them go to do very mundane jobs. And I think people have a very romantic notion of what they do, which is not actually the case for most individuals in the military, but that translates into on-the-spot preferential treatment because people feel pressured to do this by the media, peers, or for fear of being accused.

    Can’t military people operate within the rules of the airline too, even very generous rules that are set by the airline to favor troops going to active duty?

    If the airline set 190 pounds as the limit, which is way above any normal person, and fit for the average soldier’s belongings, why do you act as if they did something incredibly wrong by charging them for their use above that limit? How about 250 pounds, would you swear not to fly American ever again if they then charged troops for going over that?

    When will it end?

  44. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: the senator’s assistant could pack one carryon bag. i’ve packed a week’s worth of clothing and brought that with me to the gate and onto the plane.

    3 a bags full of miscellaneous armor and uniforms isn’t going to fit in the overhead.

    you’re confusing the necessary with the extraneous.

  45. AD8BC says:

    @photomikey: Neither you, nor myself for that matter, is worthy to breathe the same air or walk on the same ground as a soldier.

    They are doing jobs that I am damn glad I don’t have to do.. And, at the same time, I am damn ashamed to make that statement.

    Just the other day I flew from Philadelphia to Dallas. And I had been upgraded to first class. And I saw a soldier flying alone on that flight. When all was said and done, I was sitting in the back in his seat.

    I do agree that, if the government reimburses the soldier, then the soldier should pay and be reimbursed. But if it were my airline, I would waive the fee, reimbursed or not.

    It should also be noted that I recently heard a person boarding an American flight in Dallas allow soldiers in uniform to board first with the first class passengers.

  46. katylostherart says:

    @kepler11: if a soldier is travelling as part of his orders he should get extra consideration. if he is going to disneyland and just happens to be in the army, he should pay the fee.

  47. matsayz says:

    @strife1012: what do you mean you’ve never gotten one? of course we hate using them, it’s a pain in the arse to track and make sure it’s paid and BoA is a POS company. but im sure you had the chance to get one. i know i only used it when i came back and got smacked with baggage fees overseas. but most definetly reimbursed.

  48. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: ps, i make less than 30k a year, and i take home far less than 30k a year. i learned to pack better.

  49. AD8BC says:

    @kepler11: Military personnel are all heroes, no matter what their job. How would you like to do their job?

    I don’t care how mundane their particular job is. They signed up to put their lives on the line if called.

  50. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: No, you are trying to set up assumptions so that you can negate the argument that business does not need to give government a discount.

    What if the staffer NEEDS just as many bags (boxes of documents, video cameras, cameras, clothes, shoes, suits, etc)? Do we then allow an exemption? If your argument is “then they should ship it ahead of time” then the army should as well.

    This is the governments fault. If they have people who REGULARLY need to carry many heavy bags… they should have a system in place so they dont have to shell out $$.

  51. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: You also like making arguments that have nothing to do with the point. You seem to be saying that as long as a public servant (cop, fireman, teacher, armed forces, politician, politician staffers, etc) NEED the items, the fees should be waived.

    That is, point blank, stupid. They should pay and the government should reimburse the company. Or the government, when making travel arrangements should pay in advance. Not so hard.

  52. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: then they do what my boss does and ships them there ahead of time. if you’ve ever tried to fedex to an apo, let me tell you it’s nearly impossible. fedex to a hotel room, pretty freakin easy. i can guarantee you conferences are planned out well in advance, i’ve seen guys that have two days to get their crap together before being shipped out.

    you’re also assuming that a senator’s assistant and the like don’t put company equipment on company invoices. clothes and suits are considered personal equipment and could be put all in one bag for carry on. cameras are very doubtfully considered such and can be billed to the company. all the equipment soldiers wear (uniforms, boots, armor, patches, etc) are considered personal equipment after purchase from the px despite the person themselves being considered gov’t property. but it’s not personal equipment that they can just purchase again on arrival unlike a suit or a pair of nice shoes.

    the staffer also will not go to jail for just walking away from their job. a governor can resign, a soldier has to be released. you’re trying to say that these are the same jobs with the same consequences just because they’re gov’t/public sector. they’re really not and they shouldn’t be treated as such.

  53. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: and i didn’t say public servants, i said soldiers. and only soldiers. you don’t seem to understand the difference in job descriptions.

  54. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: So the public servant that is non military should spend a substantial portion of his pay to either ship what he needs or buy more once he gets there (only to throw it away or pay for return baggage fees)? OH OK.

    And what if this staffer is going to a military base?

    And no… I never said they are the same jobs with the same consequences. But they are both public servant jobs, and should both be treated the same. You can’t make exceptions just because the Army does not have an organized system of payment.

  55. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: What about a fireman taking all his gear because he is going to fight wildfires?

    Surely, he is risking his life. Maybe he is going voluntarily (but the military person DID voluntarily enter, unless we have a draft now?) but that is a moot point.

    You want to try and play games with the system.

    Why are you so against the military complex paying ahead of time? They can pay billions for WMD but can not figure out how to pay for baggage fees ahead of time?

  56. kepler11 says:

    @AD8BC: @kepler11: Military personnel are all heroes, no matter what their job. How would you like to do their job?
    I don’t care how mundane their particular job is. They signed up to put their lives on the line if called…. Neither you, nor myself for that matter, is worthy to breathe the same air or walk on the same ground as a soldier.

    I feel very bad for you. You truly have been brainwashed by the media/movies/tv to think this about people in the military. People who sign up for the military are no different from anyone else in our country. They are not some special breed of altruistic, morally superior person. Certainly some of them do more dangerous jobs than the rest of us, but their motivations are not as pure as you think, and they aren’t doing it for free. You should stop and meet a few and see how normal they are. They are not deserving of god-worship. You should question your assumptions once in a while.

    @katylostherart: @kepler11: if a soldier is travelling as part of his orders he should get extra consideration. if he is going to disneyland and just happens to be in the army, he should pay the fee.

    yeah, obviously we’re talking about going to duty, not disneyland. The whole point of my post was to ask you, for example, how much extra consideration should he get? how many pounds? And will you (and others) let the airline charge the extra bag fee once the soldier goes over that new pound limit, or will you still accuse them of not respecting the troops?

  57. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: so what’s good for the goose is good for the gander? do you realize if we applied that concept to everything humanity would cease to exist?

    so everyone pays the checked bag fee and those who CAN avoid it do and those who can’t are just screwed.

    so you say they are not the same jobs nor do they have the same consequences but that should be treated the same.

    so 1=1=8? you can make exceptions. aa could make exceptions. but asking a corporation to do something out of kindness, or even most people to have some sort of sympathy about things like this is too difficult. this is why the world is so screwed up. people just can’t seem to imagine that little things like this rididculous checked bag fee make basic life impossible for some people.

    a public servant that is non military that MUST fly as part of their job is *probably* not spending any of their own money on the travel. they are definitely not spending their own money to haul office equipment with them.

    how often do you think a cop would fly on a plane as part of duty? because their jurisdiction usually ends at whatever county/state/town/precinct line they’re hired in. what about a teacher?

    soldiers and other military personnel can spend the entire first year of enlistment going somewhere new every month after basic. i just don’t understand this. you admit that their jobs are not the same but that the same rules should apply? that makes no sense. it is not stupid to expect different situations to have different rules and policies. it is stupid to apply the same rule to situations that are not similar.

  58. katylostherart says:

    @kepler11: i dunno. considering they’re allowed to march them around with packs that are half their body weight it would be dependent on invididual soldiers. it’s just like i’ve sat with these kids in the uso thing and it’s not like they like having to haul around 2-3 full duffel bags of crap that is considered the minimum to bring. this is just adding to the burden for them. and sparing this cost for soldiers would not hurt aa’s bottom line. that’s the real kicker. this is nickel and diming people who don’t have a way to avoid it.

    it’s not a matter of respecting troops to me. it’s just trying to be a decent human being. if i had it my way they wouldn’t be allowed to charge for one bag if there was a diaper bag in the carry on because that obviously took the place of something that would’ve normally gone on free.

    people seriously, have a heart. you’re fighting for people that WANT to rip you off because it ends up adding another nickel per bag to a group of ceos that already make millions a year.

  59. ffmariners says:

    You are applying an exception based on emotion.

    By waiving the fee the airline will need to cover the costs regardless. Prices go up, we pay.

    By charging the fee, the government pays (not the soldier, albeit they may front the money). This comes from taxes, which may increase the slightest bit which in turn means we pay.

    If we expect other jobs to expense their baggage fees, we should have that as a general rule… because, once again, all you are doing is making an emotional plea. IN THE END… WE PAY! You just don’t want the soldier to have to front the money OR the government to have to pay in advance.

    By waiving the fee the costs do not dissappear.

  60. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: You seem to think the airline won’t be making the money.

    “Have a heart” = emotional plea

    They will make the money regardless, just whether or not its from a direct government payment or higher prices for everyone, is the question.

  61. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: if that was honestly the case, of this being a necessary cost, then EVERY airline would be doing this. i have yet to see virgin atlantic nickel and diming all of its services out. british air doesn’t, neither does aer lingus.

    this fee DOES NOT have anything to do with actual loss of profit. it’s just something else people will stupidly put up with because they think they have no choice.

  62. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: no you seem to think the airline won’t be making money. you’re defending the airline as if not charging this fee will sink the company. if they didn’t charge for ANY checked bag it wouldn’t sink the company. most people don’t generally bring entire households with them to the airport to fly.

  63. katylostherart says:

    @ffmariners: and there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to alleviate some pain for your fellow man.

    i would personally pay for kindness over convenience. people not doing so lose some of their humanity.

  64. HollowV says:

    I feel compelled to defend AA although I would rather not. Hopefully will clear up thie misleading story. I recently returned from Iraq in late May 08 and was the victim of the new baggage fees. My commercial leg of my flight wasn’t booked until 4 days prior to my departure and therefore I wasn’t grandfathered in having not purchased my ticket before the airline’s new policy went into effect. All branches of the military make it mandatory for each uniformed service member to apply for and use a government travel card (the current contract is though BOA…a VISA) and its use is mandatory for all official travel. Most service members have one and only those with the worst credit rating are unable to obtain one. That being said, the baggage fees are a reimbursable expense and can be paid for with the government travel card with no expense incurred by the traveling service member. At the conclusion of official travel, the hardest part is finding the receipt for the excess baggage fees and filling out the travel voucher. The government pays the fees as they did mine. The military contracted portion of my travel ended in Baltimore and from there I had to fly Delta to the Tampa area. I was traveling with 4 bags, two of them over the 70 pound limit and my excess baggage fees were over $400.00. That’s a lot of gear to haul and the airlines have every right to charge for it. What’s lost on most people is that the fees were passed right to the taxpayers. Everybody who pays taxes paid in one shape or another…not me.

  65. cyberscribe says:

    If it’s military-related baggage, it needs to be transported free-of-charge. Period.

    If military personnel refuse to pay these outrageous fees, and refuse to board without their equipment, then they won’t be able to report to their assigned destinations on time.

    The military will surely step in at this point, and AA will find it’s feet being held to the Congressional flames.

  66. sponica says:

    Perhaps a better solution than the back and forth about “do military personnel deserve x, y, or z?” is if American really wants/needs to charge an excess baggage fee, charge the amount for the first and second checked bag on the third checked bag. Paying 40 dollars is a heck of a lot more acceptable than 100 dollars and more PR friendly. 15 would be better, but that would totally be pushing it.

  67. Fallom says:

    The last time I was in ATL I saw over 200 soldiers at the USO waiting to ship out for a tour in Iraq. How shameful for the airlines to try to squeeze money out of military personnel, especially since enlisted don’t make much money in the first place.

  68. kepler11 says:

    @katylostherart: people seriously, have a heart. you’re fighting for people that WANT to rip you off because it ends up adding another nickel per bag to a group of ceos that already make millions a year.

    Once again, all I’m asking you is a simple question. What should the airline set as its limit over which the soldier will be charged? Name a figure in pounds, at which they can be said to have a heart.

    How else is the airline supposed to operate?

  69. ffmariners says:

    @cyberscribe: No they wont, because the government will reimburse the soldier.

  70. ffmariners says:

    @katylostherart: Last I checked the airlines ARENT making money… has that not already been established on the consumerist?

  71. joellevand says:

    I’m kind of torn on this one.

    One one hand, if I owned a business that provided a service (food, travel, lodging, etc.) I would give a discount to anyone whose service includes putting their lives on the line for me (regardless of whether that’s what their job actually entailed vs. protecting resources we want, international interests, etc.) such as military personnel, police officers, firefighters, EMTs, etc.

    On the other hand, I’m a libertarian and believe in the rights of businesses to CHOOSE to do that. Just because I would, as a theoretical entrepreneur give discounts or freebies to military and law enforcement (and worked in prior establishments which did so) doesn’t mean everyone HAS to, and I have to support AA’s right to say no.

    I mean, our servicemen *are* meant to be fighting for freedom, and the freedoms of the United States include the freedom of our businesses to NOT be forced to engage in business practices for the benefit of the government or anyone else.

    Of course, we as consumers also have the freedom to tell them to go f**k themselves if we disagree with their policies toward the military servicemen (or anyone, really) by voting with our wallets.

  72. Jesse in Japan says:

    If it’s for training, doesn’t the DOD pick up the tab? If that’s not the case, shouldn’t it be?

  73. ChrisNF says:

    Why should the airlines be on the hook for shipping soldier’s equipment around the country? Their employer, the government, should give them an allowance for these fees.

  74. MelL says:

    @cyberscribe: Then the personnel will also take heat for failing to be at an appointed place at an appointed time.

  75. shor0814 says:

    @Jesse in Japan:
    Even of the soldier is reimbursed, it still comes out of their pocket until repaid. Based on my wife’s experience, that can sometimes be quite a long term interest free loan to the government.

    @kepler11:
    Maybe AA could approach the DOD and help them set up a system to direct bill the military. That would be helpful to the soldiers, probably save everyone a few bucks due to efficiencies and economies of scale, and might even look good. Hard to call yourself “generous” when the other airlines are outdoing you in the same situation.

  76. digitalgimpus says:

    This is really a problem with the DoD.

    The military should be repaying the soldier promptly for any fees during official travel. He shouldn’t be paying his own way. The military should find the most cost effective way to get him to his destination, and reimbursing him in full if he has to front the money (which shouldn’t be necessary IMHO).

    I suspect he was supposed to get a voucher as suggested above, and in the crazyness before deployment just got mixed up.

    Regardless… this is a government problem. US Companies shouldn’t be giving the government discounts while raping consumers.

    And soldiers shouldn’t be paying for things the military should be covering. He shouldn’t need to carry anything other than ID and an e-ticket to get on a plane. The military should cover the rest of his accommodations.

  77. jessicat says:

    Perhaps I’m being a tad too liberal here, but if we weren’t sending tens of thousands of troops to bases and overseas in the first place, wouldn’t comping a few bags be less of an issue?

  78. synergy says:

    @digitalgimpus: IAWTC

  79. scerwup says:

    @ffmariners: Yes we would be bitching if it was a Senator traveling and complained that he had to pay for his bags. The difference is, the Senator isn’t carrying three bags of gear mandated by the government, most of which will keep him alive.

  80. ninabi says:

    Military people face a lot. If they get orders to go, they go. Should the extra baggage costs be dealt with in the orders? Yes. If they are not, there should be some way for the airlines to bill the government after the fact, rather than let the military member have to pony up money on the spot just to go and do his or her job.

    I took my husband to the airport once. 6 green duffel bags filled with government supplies. And a small green metal tin with a handgun. Of course TSA really had a field day with that one.

    He was headed to Iraq. 6 bags on the cart. Commercial flights for a portion of the trip, but no one made mention of the extra weight.

    It is the rare business traveler that faces the real possibility of making his or her return trip home down in cargo. In a box.

    That’s why there ought not to be such a headache over the excess baggage.

  81. Puck says:

    I don’t think that these soldiers should even get the other freebies that other “civilians” don’t. As many have stated, this is a DoD problem, not an airline problem. The soldiers have to pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed? Uh yeah, so? I and many others have to do the exact same thing when we travel for business. Blame the management, not the places *gasp* charging these people money for services rendered.

    Now i’ll go wave my flag 100 times as penance because i’m probably not seen as blindly supporting the troops.

  82. jacksbrokenego says:

    I do think AA and every other airline out there that are increasing bag fees and every other cost cutting measure are sharks for the outrageous fees that they’re now charging. (and AA is just a poor airline regardless)

    But I also think it’s not their responsibility to subsidize people’s business expenses, regardless of that persons job or salary. And when you take away the title ‘soldier’, that’s really what this boils down to.

    I’ve traveled for work plenty of times, and a couple times when I couldn’t afford a pot to piss in. In the end my employer reimbursed me for my travel expenses. The government should do the same.

    I keep reading these posts that cry fowl because AA isn’t ‘doing the right thing’ and doesn’t ‘have a heart.’ Why aren’t any of you that are crying fowl suggesting that the military pay for our troops’ excess baggage via our tax dollars? How is this different than any other employee/employer relationship?

  83. AgentTuttle says:

    Maybe they’re war profiteers like Cheney.

  84. ibored says:

    I think its worth noting (I haven’t seen it here) that the government handles security for the airlines (who pass the cost onto us) AND the air traffic control system that supports this industry. reimbursement or not, they shouldn’t be hastling our men and women in the service (or civil servants for that matter) The government probably pays much more for these flights give ntheir propensity to making last minute changes to soldiers schedules. All that money goes to the airlines. If nothign else a volume discount is in order with regards to baggage.

  85. mexifelio says:

    WTH are they putting into jetfuel that is making it so expensive, stem cell and fetal tissue stew?

    I am actually quite interested to see what is going to be the breaking point between the consumers and the airlines. Are we really going to go back to the days of riding the rails across the states? Good Times!

  86. As a military member (who paid $100 4 months ago on my way to Iraq) I find this complete absurd.

    Damn near everything is reimbursable during deployment – I claim everything, mileage to the airport, baggage carts at the airport, the bottle of water from the news stand, the hotel in Baltimore – keep your receipts.

    You should have a Government Travel Card – USE IT! In the Air Force, even our plane tickets get stuck on the GTC. If you don’t have a GTC they can place the tickets on your orders and you are then expected to request a paycheck advance so you have cash-on-hand to pay these travel expenses.

    When you land in country (or during training) one of the first things you do is file an accrual travel voucher. This is where you claim everything you spent on the way over and in about a week your reimbursement is direct deposited into your account.

    The person in this post was a SSG (E-6) in the Army, one full grade ahead of myself SSgt (E-5) in the Air Force. I know I have $300 sitting around for emergency use (like this situation), especially if I knew it would be back in my account (plus some) within a week. If you are an NCO, without an emergency fund, well – you don’t deserve to be an NCO. You’re a horrible example to your troops and you can’t possibly take care of them when they need you.

    Lastly, why complain? If you paid for the baggage that means you can file an accrual voucher. Everytime you file an accrual voucher they calculate your per diem and throw it on top. This means the $3.25 you earn every day is now in your bank account, earning you interest, rather than Uncle Sam’s pocket.

    BTW: Military, for the same reason, start your Family Separation as soon as you can (30 days after separation) – deposit it all into the Savings Deposit Program. After 6 months, you’ve earned a free $150 (from $1,530 to $1,680).

  87. Rachacha says:

    @thefastest: Before you go spouting off, you might want to check your facts. Rates for Fedex for 3 packages weighing a total of 190lbs from ElPaso to Camp Bowie are NOT cheap.
    Overnight delivery by 10:30am 852.45
    Overnight Delivery by 3:00pm 812.28
    2nd Day, delivery by 4:30pm 353.19
    3rd day, delivery by 4:30pm 283.33
    Ground (2nd day delivery) 84.54

    So sure, the OP could save money by shipping his bags, and waiting for 2 business days, but I don’t think his superiors will be too happy when he shows up for training wearing only his boxers!

    No disrespect to the OP (or any military), but the US Government will reimburse you for any travel related expenses.

    Govt fact sheet on baggage allowance:
    [www.gsa.gov]
    Baggage fees depend on whether the OP booked a commercial flight (through American, or travelocity etc.) or a flight through the government travel system (Commercial bookings, you pay the fee, government bookings you don’t)

    Would it be great if airlines directly billed the government for extra baggage fees for the troops…sure, but 1) now the airlines have to develop a system to track it, and 2) the government needs to find a way to verify the charges were vaild (accountability). Having the traveler pay and requesting reimbursement is the most efficient way of handling this issue.

  88. rhmmvi says:

    Ridiculous that the airlines said that kind of thing to the soldier. Considering the amount of money that the airlines get from the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (i.e. federal assistance for plane leases in exchange for the military to use them in a time of war) as well as various and sundry bailouts, not to mention the fact that these guys lay down their lives for us pencil pushers (I’m a pencil pusher), they deserve fair treatment.

  89. RandomHookup says:

    @Puck: It’s true they will probably be reimbursed (assuming they keep track of the receipts and other paperwork and have a good leadership that gets these kind of things taken care of), but it’s not the same as a professional traveling for business. It’s like taking the guys in the mailroom and sending them on a business trip. They don’t travel much, don’t know the ins and outs of the system, may not have a credit card and don’t have enough money to cover a big cash charge. ATMs and such make it easier, but they still need to have money in the bank.

    An E-3 with less than 2 years in makes about $19k annually, plus meals and perhaps some other allowances. Most people who make the equivalent of $10 per hour don’t travel for business. I have even seen lots of more highly paid individuals need a corporate credit card or an advance before they could travel.

    All that said, it is still a DOD snafu.

  90. Jeangenie says:

    @photomikey: wow–i am aghast.

  91. Jeangenie says:

    And if AA wants to charge the fees–it is their option. But I bet you Senators and Congressmen don’t pay these fees.

  92. ianmac47 says:

    Obviously American Airlines hates America. That’s why they flew planes into the World Trade Center.

  93. johnj21 says:

    This story is so bogus for two reasons.

    1) Military members are reimbursed for all travel expenses.
    2) The Gov’t issues visa cards to pay for your expenses.

  94. Edge231 says:

    Yeah fees suck, but why and airline have to lose money just by waiving fees just because it is military personnel? So other flyers should have to pay more as a consequence?

    Yes our troops do a great job and they should be commended. But they make decent money.

  95. coachflaps says:

    Michael Wales said it best, it’s reimbursable.

    I’ve paid over $250 on one bag when I was flying out of Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. When the guy told me I said ok and handed over my government travel card. I made sure I got a receipt and went on my merry way. I’ve flown on more airlines than I care to remember, so much so that I hate flying now. Sometimes the airlines charge excess baggage fees and sometimes they don’t, it depends on who is working the counter. For the people who don’t like the Government Travel Card, get advance pay to cover your expenses. There is no reason to pay anything out of your own pocket if you do one or the other and plan accordingly. Now if they are a reservist or National Guard then they probably aren’t aware of these types of things, but if you’re Active Duty, you have no excuse. As for the people complaining about the GTC being owned by Bank of America, I guess you are now thankful that they are switching Citibank and they are starting to mail the new cards out the beginning of August. Of course you’ll probably find an excuse to whine about Citibank too, get over it, use the card.

    For the dude who said government employees cannot take advantage of an offer because of their position. Umm yeah, are you kidding me. So in the ten years you were in the Army you never were offered a military discount at places you shopped or ate? Mind you not all military discounts are the best discounts, I get 30% off at Lenscrafters for being a AAA member but if I used the military discount, I would get a $25 discount.

    Someone else said that not all military people are heroes and you know what, he’s right. Now of course percentage wise the scumbag population of the military might be lower than the scumbag population of non-military, but we still have them.

    All the jobs in the military are important for the war effort, the ones that aren’t, they get rid of. I’ve seen a lot of people get RIF’ed (Reduction in Force) because they were no longer need. Now are all the jobs superstar fancy, no of course not, but they are vital to the infrastructure of the Armed Forces.

    If you think by going in your yard and waving a flag or putting a magnet on your car makes you a patriot, you are wrong. But the one great thing about this country is you don’t have to be. Nobody is forcing you to be patriotic and support the troops. If you don’t want to, don’t do it, be true to yourself and be glad you live in a country where you have a freedom to do it. If you don’t like how things are going in the country get out there and do something about it. Trust me, being in the military we are limited to things we can do to express our displeasure with how things are going so we have to rely on other people to get out there and force a change, so get out there!!

  96. Chairman-Meow says:

    I’m sure AA is going to pay out much more than $300.00 for dodging this bad publicity.

  97. Shark1998 says:

    @B: Your kidding right?

  98. mariospants says:

    If a soldier is being flown to and from bases/assignments then it really is up to the army to take care of all of the logistics and costs. If there is an additional fee for excess baggage then the fee should have been paid for when the ticket was purchased or the soldier should have a travel card or travel money should have been provided up front (I assume that during business travel, the soldiers have a daily meal allowance as well).

    It’s laudable that some airlines provide some extra benefits for free if you’re a soldier. andI’ll bet some AA gate agents probably would have waived the entire fee.

  99. nycaviation says:
  100. Parapraxis says:

    @ianmac47: that was the most beautiful thing I’ve read all morning.

    of course, there’s going to be someone who won’t get it though… *sigh*

  101. mythago says:

    @kepler11: the issue isn’t really whether there is a bag charge – maybe the military IS supposed to give them vouchers. The issue is that a) there is a $100 bag fee at all and b) the characterization of the waiver of some bag fees as “generous”.

    With a little less stupid, AA could have successfully explained that the military is forcing its soldiers to carry so much stuff that they will be hit with bag fees, and then not reimbursing them.

  102. vladthepaler says:

    Sure, it’s nice of the airlines that offer it, but I don’t know why being in the military should entitle anyone to discounts of any kind.

  103. Trai_Dep says:

    Why doesn’t American Airlines debit George Bush’s personal bank account for the overage? Seems fair to me…

  104. banksnld says:

    This really is not as big a deal as its being made. When I had to take a trunk full of photo and video equipment with me to Kuwait, I was charged such a fee. But that’s why the military issues credit cards – to cover travel expenses when traveling on official orders. He’s a Staff Sergeant; I’m surprised he didn’t already have one or know how to get one.

  105. taka2k7 says:

    Keep in mind that not all military personnel travel in uniform while on travel orders.

    As for the senseless debate on military jobs and deserving discounts…

    There are plenty of military personnel who come into the military doing one job but then end up doing another. I’m doing CE, finance, contracting, security, etc, even though my career field is non of the above. We’re often away from their familes for months at a time (I’m on a 1 year remote in a truly remote location). We have to move every few years, and are often not fully compensated for moving expenses.

    As for paying up front and getting reimbursed, I’m still waiting 2 months after the fact to get my travel voucher paid.

    There are plenty of jobs in the civilian world that should be getting the same sorts of discounts/praise/support as military personnel. Just don’t think that we’re adquately supporting military personnel. It’s not just about pay.

  106. coren says:

    @kepler11: Yeah, having a lot of respect for someone who puts their life at risk for you is being brainwashed. Damn media and it’s Grand Theft Auto, making people do and think whatever it is they want them to. If only we had free will….

  107. nycaviation says:

    @Trai_Dep: I think the President would have a pretty strong case for a chargeback if they did that.

  108. Shark1998 says:

    Having been in the military, I can tell you that getting “vouchers” or travel cards is very difficult for most personnel. The normal procedure is to pay for any out of pocket expenses up front then request reimbursement after the trip. the problem with that though is that an E-1 to E-5 will most likely not have that kind of money. E-5 and below really don’t get payed much and most live paycheck to paycheck.

  109. RStewie says:

    I deployed twice, and had to pay extra for my baggage each time. And that was before they had all these jacked up prices for baggage.

    It’s not the Airline’s job to cover the cost of flying for the military. That’s one of the things the military budgets for when they’re planning wars.

    And they DO occassionally have strictly military flights, which are about as sucky as commercial, but at least you’re surrounded by fellow military members, who are also as trained to “hurry up and wait” as you are.

    My flight back from my first deployment took an additional 10 hours, and that’s AFTER we left the ground (it took a full 13 1/2 hours just to get us loaded ONTO the plane, starting at 3:30AM). There were SO MANY bags (yes, we did leave some behind) that we didn’t have enough fuel for more than 5 hours of flight, necessitating stops in Italy, Germany, Iceland, Maryland and finally our destination, Norfolk.

    We weren’t allowed off the plane at any of the stops except Germany, and even there not a single restaurant was open (it was 10pm). I’ve been on commercial flights that were delayed 30 minutes on the ground and had more complaints that that hellacious flight back from the desert.

  110. RandomHookup says:

    @banksnld: True, but he’s National Guard, so it’s likely some of this hasn’t trickled down as well (or their command hoped to save money by getting comped).

  111. coachflaps says:

    @RandomHookup: I agree with you, I know the National Guard unit where I’m at doesn’t deploy very often so they are often unaware of expenditures that could pop up while going TDY.

  112. verdantpine says:

    @katylostherart: Thanks for bringing that up – yes, they get reimbursed, but they *don’t* get paid much to begin with, and getting their money reimbursed can take a very long time, months even… depending on how well their local command is run. Younger folks and those who are enlisted really get the shaft with this. My spouse (who was then enlisted) had to wait four months for one reimbursement.

    I think if American was truly generous, they would negotiate this directly with the Pentagon to cover 3 bags. Mind you, people, the Air Force is currently being investigated for having wasted taxpayer dollars (more than a quarter million) for “comfort pods” on military planes – [www.washingtonpost.com] (Money that was supposed to be spent on combating terrorism.)

    People are not going to be carrying 3 bags unless they’re headed for combat (or training before combat), leaving or reentering CONUS from somewhere like Korea’s DMZ.

    I’m surprised by American’s attitude. Last month I saw a great documentary on flight attendants. One interviewee had a long history with Pan Am, who as noted, carried many young men to Vietnam. She noted that often her airplane brought the guys there, and brought them back – sometimes in coffins.

    At the end of the day, these guys are yes, public servants, but they’re also headed into a war zone. They have enough to worry about – with some of them reservists who have given up their job and may worry about how their training will stand up – and all of them saying goodbye to friends and family…

    The *generous* thing to do is to give them one *less* thing to worry about before heading into a combat situation.

  113. MorrisseyTheCat says:

    @Ein2015: I am wondering why (again) there is a seeming public perception that the airlines owe them a living…Now think about it for a sec….I can’t think of one other place of business where people have a million reasons why they shouldn’t have to PAY for the price of the product. I am as big of a consumer advocate as it gets, but the airline thing really bugs me because EVERYONE everywhere seems to act like their reason for travel (military, funeral, wedding, fireman, cops, nurses, cause du jour worker etc) trumps the need to PAY the business for its service. “Consumers” like that abuse the system and it dominoes and makes flying the nightmare it so often is.

  114. Tonguetied says:

    It’s not so much being in the military but being in the military and traveling on orders.

    That said, as has been mentioned above this guy should have a Government Travel Charge Card to pay the fee. If for some reason he didn’t all he needs to do is submit a travel claim with the receipt for the charge. In the long run he doesn’t have to pay this fee.

  115. LuvJones says:

    @RickinStHelen:

    Yes you get reimbursed…usually when the military gets good and ready to hand over the money. Meanwhile the credit card company is waiting on their money, and the soldier/airman is caught in the middle. Sometimes the places you are going don’t have facilities for you to file a travel voucher right away. Those government issued credit cards WILL show up on your credit report, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I had my extra bag fees waived several times, I didn’t expect it but it was a very nice gesture seeing as the government is probably overpaying for the ticket in the first place…it is, after all, the government.

  116. LuvJones says:

    @banksnld:

    I have to tell you the military issued travel card can be a HUGE pain in the ass. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, it’s like gambling in Vegas. Just another headache for our service member. Can’t tell you how many times I used my own CC because the gov’t travel didn’t work.

  117. AmeryFeard says:

    myself and my husband both are military.
    and to the person who feels that its the same to ask for a discount on a steak you are special.
    depending on training, you can be flown back and forth to different commands every couple of weeks. it’s not like we’re going on leave.
    so say i have a 2 week school in pensacola. then back to san diego then i fly to japan for a deployment. then to WA.
    thats redic. think how much money that is on checking baggage alone.
    and no they don’t give you vouchers.
    they are “supposed” to pay you back. but that doesn’t always happen on top of it still comes out of your pocket. and contrary to popular believe, we are not paid well. so shelling out an extra 100-200 bucks every couple of weeks while being flown about is not really possible.