United Airlines forced a National Guard officer to pay a $200 fee for an overweight bag after returning home from a 21-month long deployment, according to Fox 7 Austin.
First Lieutenant John Rader had to pay the fee while attempting to board his flight from El Paso Monday night because his bag, containing his Kevlar body armor, two helmets and his boots, was over the airline’s weight limit.
“I was told point blank that I’d have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with,” Rader told Fox 7. “Well, I didn’t have another bag so I was caught in a bind, do I go home without my stuff or without it.”
United allows active military members to check five bags for free as long as they are all under 70 pounds, a United spokesperson told Fox 7. Rader said the airline wouldn’t budge, and he was forced to pay the fee.
“I’m not looking for sympathy, but some form of empathy in the situation. There was none of that. It was just cold. I had to either pay or leave the bag,” he said.
Rader said that United also made another soldier traveling pay the fee.
Other airlines allow bags weighing up to 100 pounds, according to Fox 7.
United reportedly offered to repay the fine, but Rader said he wants the airline to change its policy so other soldiers are not caught in the same situation.
“$200 can go a long way when you come back. Not a lot of people are compensated, so $200 comes out of pocket, you weren’t expecting it can change things, so I just want to make sure soldiers are cared for going forward,” Rader said.
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