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August 18, 2008

Airlines Embarrassed Over Bag Fee Brouhaha

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Troops coming and going.
AP Photo

by Barbara S. Peterson

The airlines' new baggage fees have so many exceptions and contradictions that most of us have just given up trying to make sense of them. Some airlines charge for the first bag (American, United, USAirways), some let you check the first one free but then really get you on the second one (at Delta, a second bag is $50 each way), but there is one area of consistency: Dare to check a third bag and you'll fork over more than $100.

Okay, we can all understand the logic of that, although a small number of the airlines' VIP fliers are largely exempt from the new luggage levies.

But those VIPs apparently didn't include the men and women who are serving in the U.S. military overseas. They've got good reason for lugging along a lot of stuff, but the airlines either didn't think of this or were unmoved by their plight, demanding that uniformed members of the armed services pay up like the rest of the Clampetts crowd.

Until, however, a story appeared in a military publication detailing the plight of young soldiers who barely had enough cash to pay for their additional baggage and then had to wait months to be reimbursed by the military.

The unflattering coverage prompted a quick reversal:
* American Airlines waives third bag fee for military
* AirTran waives all bag fees for military personnel

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