Plane Reality says take it easy on Delta over the recent kerfuffle that the airline has been charging for fourth checked bags for soldiers returning from combat. He thinks they ought to get that fourth bag free, but c’mon, Delta is really patriotic!
Delta already provides the military with more free checked bags and ‘regular’ customers. There was a YouTube viral video about a soldier who had to pay to check his grenade launcher. The outrage, though, seems misplaced. The military is causing him to carry weaponry, Delta is already extending a courtesy with three free checked bags, and it strikes me that the government is the one that’s unreasonable here in not covering the transportation cost for military equipment. Not Delta. If the government wants Delta to carry rocket launchers, the government should pay Delta to do so>.
But misplaced outrage turned into a social media firestorm, and Delta will now allow four free checked bags in coach and five in premium cabins of up to 70 pounds each for soldiers traveling on orders.
Watching an interview on the news this morning, the soldier who shot the video still seemed unsatisfied, he says that military should board first, too, in order for the airline to show their patriotism. Frankly I agree with Matthew, who critiqued United’s recent decision to have soliders board first.
I don’t mind boarding soldiers before the bulk of the coach cabin, if you want to ensure they get overhead space that’s fine, but singling them out for ‘first priority’ strikes me as a cynical ploy to appeal to patriotism with the rest of United’s customers really the marketing focus of the decision rather than an expression of feeling on the part of the company.
Last week I noted United’s revised-revised boarding policy, which has uniformed military boarding with Global Services and before first class, which I thought seemed odd. A United PR rep tweeted that “[M]ilitary should absolutely board first and yes, ahead of First Class. They earned it.” But I guess they didn’t earn it more than United’s most commercially important passengers, Global Services members…
Update: As noted in the comments, government policy is to reimburse the checked bag fees incurred in situations like this. So while it may be unreasonable to have soldiers checking grenade launchers, or expected them to front the cash for the fees to do so, the soldiers were never even expected to ultimately be out of pocket. That seems to make the complaint that Delta was charging the fees even more untenable.