Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pay-for-it-yourself War

The online version of CNN today has a story about US troops having to pay baggage fees to commercial airlines flying them to war. What?

The story quotes Tim Wagner of American Airlines as saying, somewhat airily, "If they pay, they get reimbursed [by the Department of Defense,] so at the end, they don't pay a dime." Spoken like someone who has never tried to get any sort of reimbursement/refund from a government agency, other, maybe, than the IRS.

The Air Transport Association carefully washes its hands of responsibility by saying baggage policies are made independently by the individual airlines -- and it has no plans to ask for an across-the-board waiver of fees by troops going to war.

It apparently is not enough that the soldiers are risking their lives on at least two fronts (Iraq and Afghanistan - but stay tuned for updates) -- they also need to shoulder the cost of bringing their gear. Just how broke is the Department of Defense? Since it's paying for the airline tickets, maybe the airlines could just bill the Department for the baggage fees. Surely Mr. Wagner would be in favor of that -- after all, at the end, they (the airlines) wouldn't be out a dime.

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