American Airlines Grounds Haiti Rescue Team's Medical Supplies

American Airlines has imposed a baggage embargo on flights to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in order to prevent holdups and make sure everyone’s baggage gets to ride along. Permitted: surfboards and golf clubs. Not permitted: a San Diego volunteer group’s giant bag of medical supplies. Update: some creative packing on the volunteers’ part got things straightened out, and the supplies are en route.

Yes, American Airlines is not allowing someone to pay for their luggage. That’s a new one. Sorry, Rescue Task Force, you’ll just have to send those medicines by FedEx or something.

Passengers are restricted to two bags of up to 50 lbs. and 62 dimensional inches each. Customers will also be allowed one carry-on bag.

The San Diego rescue team wants to bring three additional pieces of luggage. The group’s team leader, Darryl Hall, told SDNN that American representatives informed him the airline would not let them pay for extra luggage and said the only exception would be if they were media and bringing media camera bags (not medical supplies). The American release states that surf boards, golf bags and other sports equipment would be acceptable to check as part of the bag allowance, while incurring extra fees.

Hall said the medicine the team is carrying was specifically requested by doctors and emergency personnel already on the ground in Haiti.

The airline clarified its policy in a follow-up e-mail to SDNN, explaining that they simply want to make sure that all passengers on flights to the region can bring the luggage allotted with their tickets.

Putting such supplies onboard and in the cargo hold could prevent other passengers from taking the luggage and bags they are entitled to. Supplies are best shipped through relief agencies with cargo planes or through one of the normal shipping services. This relief organization is not the only one which we have been unable to accommodate under the policy I described above.

Haiti rescue team may not get medical supplies on American flight [SDNN]