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First Lieutenant John Rader said United Airlines made him pay $200 to check a military-issued bag on his flight to Austin, Texas, from El Paso, the final leg of his trip home from his deployment to Afghanistan, because it was overweight, Fox News reported.
“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.”
Some of the things in his bag included Kevlar vests, two helmets, and boots.
Rader said he was initially required to serve a nine-month deployment, but he volunteered to extend his deployment to 21 months.
United says active-duty military can check up to five bags as long as they are each 70 pounds or less, according to the airline’s website.
Rader said he tried to work it out with the ticket agent so he would not have to pay the fee but was told his bag was too heavy for the military benefit.
“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,” Rader said.
He added that another soldier on his flight also had to pay a fee.
United Airlines released a statement apologizing for the incident: “We are disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t meet their expectations, and our customer care team is reaching out to this customer to issue a refund for his oversized bag as a gesture of goodwill.”