Airlines Charging Soldiers For Extra Luggage

By: CNN
By: CNN

(CNN) -- Some airlines are charging U.S. soldiers extra baggage fees to take their military kits with them as they set off for war.

Some U.S. airlines give military personnel a break on baggage fees, but others levy surcharges.

Military personnel carry large, heavy kit bags containing boots, clothing and gear. In the past few months, airlines have instituted fees for all travelers ranging from $15 for one bag to $250 for a third bag.

"What we want to do is nip this in the bud by exempting the military personnel who are traveling under orders from having to pay a fee on their third bag," Veterans of Foreign Wars spokesman Joe Davis said.

The VFW sent a letter to the Air Transport Association of America, the aviation industry's umbrella group, asking that U.S. troops be exempt from any extra baggage fees. Watch how troops are getting hit with fees »

"If you have a family at home and you stand at that airline counter and you have three bags in your hand, and they say you can't get on board unless you pay $100 up front right now, what are you going to do?" Davis asked.

American Airlines, and others reached by CNN, says troops are allowed heavier and bigger bags and can check two for free, unlike commercial travelers.

Troops are allowed 190 pounds free of charge, American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner said, adding, "if they pay, they get reimbursed, so at the end, they don't pay a dime."

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That's not a good answer, the VFW's Davis said.

"These young troops are going to war," he said. "There's a lot more on their mind than to have to worry or try to remember to get a hundred dollars reimbursed to them when they get into a war zone."

The military usually issues vouchers authorizing extra baggage before a flight, but troops must pay up front if they don't have one.

And though reimbursement is likely, pending approval, as with any business expense, it is not guaranteed.

The Air Transport Association says that it supports the troops but that baggage policies are "made independently by the individual airlines."

The association says it has no plans to ask for an across-the-board waiver for U.S. service members.


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