A National Guardsman returning home to Texas following nearly two years in Afghanistan says United Airlines broke its own policy by charging him $200 to check a bag full of gear.
Fox 7 Austin reports that the man was preparing to board a United flight from El Paso to Austin Monday evening when an airline employee told him that his bag — containing a kevlar vest, boots, and helmets — was too heavy to fly for free under the airline’s policy.
It’s unclear just how heavy the National Guard member’s bag was, however, the Houston Chronicle reports it was around 70 pounds.
According to United’s military baggage policy, active duty servicemembers are allowed to check up to five bag for free as long as they weigh 70 pounds or less.
“Active duty military personnel traveling on official orders or for pleasure are invited to check extra baggage free of charge,” the airline’s website states.
Despite this policy, the man says he was told his bag would require a $200 fee or he could place some items in a separate bag to avoid the charge.
“There was no empathy to the situation,” the man tells Fox 7. “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.”
In the end, the man says he had no other choice than to pay the $200.
A United spokesperson tells Fox 5 that the airline is disappointed a passenger had a bad experience and will reach out to the customer to issue a refund as a “gesture of goodwill.”
While the man says he appreciates the reimbursement, he won’t be flying with the airline in the future.