After trying to get home after two years in Afghanistan, First Lieutenant John Rader says United Airlines told him his military issued duffel was too heavy and would have to pay a major fine.
"I was told point blank that I'd have to pay $200 for the overage or find another bag to siphon stuff off with. 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 has a policy that allows active military personnel to check up to five bags for free so long as each of them is under 70 pounds.
Other airlines offer a similar deal.
American Airlines allows up to five bags free for active duty military, but each bag may weight up to 100 pounds.
Southwest Airlines also waives the two free bags cutoff, but requires all bags weigh 100 pounds or less.
What lead to Rader's bag falling over the weight limit was his gear, including a Kevlar vest, two helmets and boots--all necessary equipment for his extended overseas deployment.
"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."
United later released a statement apologizing for the situation.
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."