After serving 21 months in Afghanistan, a National Guard soldier says United Airlines charged him $200 for an overweight bag that was full of his military gear, according to told Fox 7 Austin.
"I was told point blank that I'd have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with," 1st Lt. John Rader told the station after flying to his home in Kyle, Texas, just south of Austin. "Well, I didn't have another bag so I was caught in a bind, do I go home without my stuff or without it?" The heavy items in his bag included his Kevlar vest, boots and two helmets.
United Airlines has a policy for active military members, but the policy states that the passenger can only have five bags checked for free if all bags are under 70 pounds. After checking other airlines, Fox 7 Austin found that others allow for the bags to be up to 100 pounds.
Rader paid the fee, but said "there was no empathy to the situation."
"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 told Fox 7 Austin.
United Airlines has offered to refund the fee, but Rader said he wants to try to change the policy. "I just want to make sure soldiers are cared for going forward."