Delta Air Lines, encountering turbulence with some bad public relations involving unexpected baggage fees tacked on for U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan last week, quickly addressed the problem, but some soldiers won’t be getting reimbursed --- via slow military channels --- for weeks, notes Grumpy Editor.
Thirty four soldiers were charged $2,800 for extra checked bags.
Military orders stated each soldier was allowed to check up to four bags at no charge. But a Delta agent last Tuesday at a layover in Baltimore told the returning military unit they would have to pay for a fourth bag linked to each traveler.
The action quickly brought national attention after Staff Sergeants Fred Hilliker and Robert O’Hair on flight day posted a video on YouTube.
“Historically, the airlines have been gracious in waiving baggage fees for our troops deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins.
Delta, a day later, announced U.S. troops will be allowed to check four bags free of charge.
The quick change in policy didn’t curb the lingering negative PR associated with the earlier baggage charges.
A syndicated editorial cartoon, still circulating over the weekend, stuck it to Delta.
The artwork, by two-time Pulitzer prize winner Mike Luckovich of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, replicated the famous February, 1945, U.S. flag-raising photo on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal.
It depicted four helmeted U.S. troops toting a mounted U.S. flag at a Delta Air Lines counter where the serious-faced agent declares: “There’s a flag baggage fee…”