I've been at work all day and attempting to monitor this flap over Delta Air Lines charging excess baggage fees to a group of Soldiers returning from deployment. The longer the day went on the angrier I got. But NOT at Delta. I'm angry at all of those who made the choice to slam Delta for their policy.
Whether you know me or not I can assure you that there are few people in this nation who support our military as much and as fervently as I do. But I can also assure you that this attack on Delta Air Lines is, to me, without merit.
I TOTALLY get it that this group (and I'd love to know what unit they are from) was tired, ready to get home, in no need of hassle or issues. I absolutely get it that we don't pay our military enough to start with. And I completely get it that these men were returning from a deployment and only wanted to get home to their loved ones, a hot shower and comfy bed and a home cook meal.
But I also get it that this policy that Delta has been smeared for all day is shared by many, if not all, domestic airlines in the US. Well, it was. By now I'm sure many are scurrying to update their websites with the new policy that Delta has now accepted. If there is any blame to be placed here perhaps we should look to the DoD. Or the Army. Or maybe even some Rear Detachment person who dropped the ball on this. Unfortunately this happened to a group that had some people traveling and in a piss poor mood. I'm "ok" that they had a piss poor attitude after being in Afghanistan for so long. But I'm disappointed as hell at their lack of professionalism on this matter. Quite frankly I'd be happy to hear that they got a good ass chewing from their Command when they got home and that they are made to apologize to Delta.
It's too bad that this group of returning Soldiers wasn't big enough to warrant military airlift all the way to their home base. If that had been the case then none of this would have happened. But this isn't the first group or individual to face having to pay excess baggage fees to an airline for baggage they are required to have with them on domestic flights. And, I dare say, it won't be the last. I know many Soldiers, usually Reservists and National Guard, who have run up against this issue. They pay then get reimbursed. That's the way the Army works. I have no idea about the other branches of service.
I've flown Delta Air Lines 2 million miles in my lifetime. I've flown about 600,000 on other airlines. They all have good days and bad days; good employees and not so good employees. The Delta employee who charged those Soldiers DID NOT do anything wrong. He or she was doing their job as they have been instructed to do - as agreed to by the airline WITH the Department of Defense.
I've seen a plethora of nasty comments all over the web today directed towards Delta. I venture to say that most of those comments have been made by people that I HATE to fly with. People with egos and demands that make flying unpleasant for everyone. It's bad enough that flying isn't what it used to be - smaller seats, less cabin service, more restrictions on ticket purchases,, changes, etc. Add in the "I don't give a shit about anyone but me on this plane" attitude by so many and I'd just rather walk anymore.
I know from personal experience that Delta Air Lines is a HUGE supporter of our troops. I personally know Delta employees who have, and continue, to bend over backwards to assist military personnel and their families. But then there is the handful of Delta employees who make them all look bad at times. Like the afternoon I was in the Atlanta airport a couple of years ago and several Soldiers were trying to get home to the Kansas City area for R & R. There were severe thunderstorms and tornadoes throughout the Midwest. Flights had been cancelled all day and when I fight was finally about to board for Kansas City people were volunteering their seats to the Soldiers who were on the wait list. The Delta gate agent, who told me he was a Veterans (and I didn't buy it at all) refused to allow those volunteering their seats to give them to the Soldiers. He told me that he HAD to go down the list in order of priority.
I stepped down the concourse to find a supervisor. Long story short, when it was all said and done and because of flight ops being a mess, Delta was able to change the equipment for the flight from a smaller jet to a 757 in order to accommodate everyone and get them home. They didn't have to do that because now that put the 757 in a location Delta didn't serve with 757 equipment but by doing so those Soldiers got home that night instead of one or two days later if Delta hadn't made equipment changes. That is just one of many stories I could tell about various situations when Delta stepped up to make it right for our troops.
And as for people commenting about how Delta should automatically put the Soldiers in First Class let me tell you a little about that. ANY TIME I see a man or woman in uniform board a flight and I have been upgraded to First Class I ALWAYS change seats with them. But ask the other douche bags who are ensconced in their upgraded seat to do the same and it is RARE they will do so. I hear things like, "I earned this seat by flying so much" or "It's not a long flight so it won't matter" or "They can't drink anyway so they won't get much out of having a first class seat." Yes, I've heard those excuses and many more. The airlines cannot take people out of the first class seats but I sure don't see many of you Patriotic sorts who are giving Delta hell today moving your sorry rear ends to the back for our troops.
Throughout the day as I've had the chance to read some of the comments I've found myself wondering - why don't these same people bitch about our Soldiers having to buy their own uniforms, boots, ribbons for their dress uniforms, etc? Why aren't they bitching that the Army doesn't issue enough in the way of uniforms and basic equipment for a Soldier to make it through a deployment in Afghanistan without having to buy items they are required to wear or have? You know, things for which they ARE NEVER REIMBURSED but required to have.
Fair warning United Air Lines. I'm hearing some scuttlebutt about changes the military is considering. If it happens the haters who have jumped all over Delta today will be on you all and you'll be fighting to stay out of bankruptcy.
I am happy those Soldiers are home safely with their families and friends. There is never enough I can say to thank them for their service to this nation or for the sacrifices they and their families have made. But this can of worms they opened was totally and completely uncalled for.