The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is asking the aviation industry for an intervention to force airlines drop the practice of charging troops for their extra baggage when heading overseas for active duty, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.
American Airlines, which recently charged two Texas soldiers $100 and $300 for their extra duffel bags, is defending the practice, claiming that the military not only receives a break on the cost of excess luggage but are also reimbursed for fees incurred, the Times reported.
But according to the Times, VFW spokesman Joseph Davis argued that soldiers serving in active duty should not have to front the expenses out of pocket, nor should they have to worry about filing for reimbursement with the military in a war zone.
“That’s a lot to ask when service members have much more important things on their minds, such as staying alive,” Davis told the Times.
In a letter sent last Friday, the VFW appealed to the Air Transport Association (ATA) for an exemption from costs for military members.
In a written statement to the Times, ATA President and CEO James C. May said the association would address the concerns in a timely manner.
“Air Transport Association member airlines have always been committed to supporting our nation’s military,” he wrote.
Recently, in attempts to curb high costs to carriers, several airlines have begun charging for previously free amenities, including in-flight meals and additional baggage.
According to VFW President George J. Lisicki, most carriers will waive baggage fees for up to two bags for military members traveling under orders. According to the Times, Lisicki claims that there is a $100 fee for checking a third bag, except for first-class passengers and elite fliers.
Army Spokesman Paul Boyce told the Times of the VFW’s efforts, “We appreciate the VFW’s help in assisting soldiers … but there are other ways to help them recoup their money for army travel.”