1st Lt. John Rader
United Airlines forced at least two U.S. Army soldiers returning from Afghanistan to pony up $200 fines when bags carrying their battle gear exceeded the airline’s a 70-pound limit, Austin’s Fox 7 reported.
First Lieutenant John Rader, a national guardsman, initially was supposed to deploy to Afghanistan for nine months. But he volunteered to serve an additional year.
Upon his return from a 21-month deployment to Afghanistan, Rader packed his field gear into his bags before his flight home. The heaviest contents included a Kevlar vest, two helmets and combat boots.
But when he went to check his bags on a flight from El Paso, Texas, on his way home to Kyle, the airline told him he’d have to pay extra for hauling his equipment home in an overweight bag.
“I was told point blank that I’d have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with,” Rader told Fox 7. “Well, I didn’t have another bag, so I was caught in a bind. Do I go home without my stuff or [with] it?”
Rader ended up paying the fine. After all, leaving his government-issued equipment behind was likely not an option. He said another soldier traveling with him was forced to pay the $200 fee as well.
“There was no empathy to the situation,” Rader said. “I’m not looking for sympathy, but some form of empathy in the situation. There was none of the. It was just cold. I had to either pay or leave the bag.”
While United Airlines does allow active-duty military members to check five bags free, they must be under 70 pounds. Still, after a 21-month deployment, a soldier lugging heavy military gear home can Click to see the original article