Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Delta Air Lines, American Soldiers, and a Baggage SNAFU

My guess is that most folks boarding an airliner don't have an assault rifle, a grenade launcher and a 9-mm. pistol in their carry-on luggage.

But then, most folks boarding an airliner aren't returning from duty in Afghanistan.

It looks like Delta Air Lines took hundreds of dollars from individual soldiers in exchange for letting them carry their luggage into the plane. Or, rather, tried to take.

American soldiers apparently don't usually carry that sort of cash with them - my guess is that somebody in the unit worked out a deal to keep the airline happy and still get everybody home.

On their way back, two soldiers made a short video, and posted it on YouTube. That's it, on your right, reduced to fit this blog's format.I think it's worth listening to. So did quite a few other folks, it seems. By the time I was done with the three-minute interview, 204,583 folks had viewed it.

Not the Best Publicity for Delta

About the best explanation for this mess may be that there was a massive lack of communication, somewhere.

Delta has acknowledged that the incident happened, explained their position: and it looks like the soldiers may eventually get reimbursed for the money they lost. That's nice.

On the other hand, I gather that quite a few families with wage-earners in the military are very much not in the caviar-and-champagne economic bracket. A few hundred dollars gone missing from their budget is not trivial. Even if they'll get the money back. Eventually. Probably.

Botched Communication? Bad Attitude? No Idea

Right now, I don't know why American soldiers had to give money they didn't have - as individuals - in order to get home with their equipment.

There are quite a few possible explanations, including:
  • Poor communication
    • Delta not telling the unit what to expect
    • Someone in the unit not passing the information along
    • Something else
  • Bad attitude - maybe
    • Someone in the outfit offended a clerk
      • Who decided to be inflexible with Delta's rules
    • Someone in Delta
      • Decided to punish the soldiers for being soldiers
      • Was in a snit
      • Assumed that 'all Americans are rich'
        • So they'll never notice the loss
Or maybe something else happened. I really don't know.

American Armed Forces: Imperfect, But Who Isn't?

Finally, I don't think that America's armed forces can do no wrong. I don't think they can do no right, either.

I do know that I'm profoundly glad that there are people with brains and character it takes to be a soldier - who are willing to defend this country. I've posted about that before:Slightly-related posts:News and views:
1 Excerpt from the news:
"Two U.S. soldiers returning home from deployment in Afghanistan said Delta Air Lines charged their unit hundreds of dollars in extra baggage fees – money that many of the soldiers did not have.Staff Sgts. Fred Hilliker and Robert O'Hair filmed a video onboard Flight 1625 and posted it on YouTube.

"They criticized Delta for the additional charges, complaining that the 34 soldiers were charged as much as $2,800 in baggage fees.

" 'We were frustrated with the situation,' O'Hair told Fox News Radio. “Honestly, we were just trying to get home.' O'Hair said the trouble started Tuesday during an 18-hour layover in Baltimore.

"His unit was heading back to Fort Polk, La., after a deployment in Afghanistan. O'Hair said their military orders stated that each soldier was allowed to check up to four bags free of charge. But the Delta agent told the soldiers they would have to pay for the fourth bag.

" 'My extra bag was my weapons case,' he said. 'I had my assault rifle, a grenade launcher and a 9-mm. pistol.'

"According to Delta's website, military personnel flying in coach on travel orders are allowed to only check three bags free of charge...."


Brigid said...

It feels like there's something missing here: "there was massive lack of communication"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian H. Gill said...


I could argue that the syntax was okay - but ease of reading is paramount, so I added the 'missing' piece.

Thanks for spotting that.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.