Last week I wrote about a soldier returning from active duty who was charged $200 to check his kevlar armor on a short United domestic flight. I defended United, but anything that remotely smacks of being anti-military is a losing PR battle. United has updated its checked baggage policy, giving active duty members of the military an even greater baggage allowance.
Members of the military traveling on orders (official duty) may now check up to five bags at 100lbs each. Previously, the limit was five bags at up to 70lbs each.
The man at the center of the controversy last week had a bag that weighed somewhere between 70 and 100lbs.
United is also granting a greater baggage allowance to spouses of military members on relocation orders.
That makes United the most generous legacy carrier. Here are the new rules:
- Active U.S. military personnel and their accompanying dependents, not traveling on official business, receive waived service charges for up to three checked bags at 70 pounds (32 kg) each
- Active U.S. military personnel and their dependents traveling on official business receive waived service charges for up to five checked bags at 100 pounds (45 kg) each
- Dependents traveling with active U.S. military personnel are also exempt as long as they are traveling in the same reservation
Only Southwest, which seems to allow an unlimited number of bags (within reason of course) at up to 100lbs each is more genreous–
Military Passengers traveling on active duty or permanent change of station orders will be exempt from the two-piece Baggage limit and will not be subject to excess, oversize, or overweight Baggage charges, provided that none of the pieces of Baggage exceeds 100 pounds in weight and 80 inches in size.
A Smart Move
Although I reasoned that airlines should not have to subsidize the military (since travel expenses like baggage fees are reimbursable), one commenter noted that it is very difficult to break down the kevlar armor into separate bags. Thus, it becomes virtually impossible to keep a bag under 70lbs. While I did not independently verify that claim, if true then I’m fine with the change.
Even if not, being labeled anti-military is corporate suicide: United wisely reasoned that increasing the baggage limit would cause less pain than any further media scrutiny. I would have made the same policy change.
If you are a member of the U.S. military on TDY or relocation, rest assured that your bags can now weigh up to 100lbs each when traveling on United.