Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Extra . . .

. . . baggage

Stars and Stripes, June 8

Two U.S. soldiers returning from a deployment in Afghanistan said Delta Air Lines charged them $200 each for extra bags for their connecting flight from Baltimore to Atlanta.

While on board Delta Air Lines flight 1625 Tuesday morning, Staff Sgts. Fred Hilliker and Robert O’Hair shot a video laying out their case. In the video, which was posted on YouTube, the soldiers say they are authorized to check as many as four bags, free of charge, on their return trip from Afghanistan

Filming while in their seats, Hilliker opens the video by saying he and the other 33 members of his unit were told in Baltimore that they were only authorized to check three bags for free.
The knee-jerk reaction is that nasty, unpatriotic Delta Airlines is ripping off our soldiers returning from a war zone.

Not so.

The soldiers are travelling on official orders that allow them to transport FOUR bags.  Delta has a contract with Uncle Sammy to transport up to THREE bags at no cost.

So, what about the fourth bag?

Since the soldiers have official orders, they will be reimbursed for the fourth bag when they file their travel vouchers - along with any other miscellaneous expenses such as food and lodging.  In fact, if they are on per diem, it is possible for them to recover a few more dollars than they actually spent.

A staff sargeant (E6) in the U. S. Army would have travelled on official orders more than once, and would know this.  If there is a problem (and I say if), it was created by the Department of Defense, not Delta. 

Stars and Stripes should have printed the full story, and these two sargeants should have known better.

Not that I'm a fan of Delta Airlines, mind you.  They are far from a gold class company.


Although Delta was following its contract with the government, the hue and cry from the viral Youtube video resulted in a change in policy.  Now, any soldier can travel with four bags at no added cost.

OK, now I'm waiting for the next uproar when someone has five bags. 

Or six.
Traveler's . . .

. . . diary

Notes on a 6,000 mile flight.  Three flights, actually.  Naples to Rome to Atlanta to Dallas. 

Nine hours is a long time to sit on your arse.  Especially when the person in the row behind you is a blithering idiot, and proves it continuously and at high volume.

For the first time in a long, long time, I asked another passenger to STFU.  During a rather long delay on the ground due to an oil spill, a young lady (and I use the term lady very loosely) was seated next to an American priest currently assigned to Rome.  She took the first 15 minutes, non-stop, explaining to the priest how her whole family was Irish Catholic, but her mother converted to Judaism, so she was raised a Jew.  No problem there, except for the fact that it took 15 minutes to make that point.  And, she made the point loud enough for everyone for three rows in any direction to hear.

She then started discussing theology with the priest.  At least, as much theology as one learns in veterinary school.  Another 20 minutes.  Among the clever questions she asked of the priest was, "If Jesus arose from the dead, doesn't that make him a zombie?"  That was closely followed by, "Then, at the end of days, when everyone arises from the dead, won't the whole world be populated by zombies?"  Then, "That won't be good for anyone who is left.  The zombies will be trying to eat them."

You simply CANNOT make that shit up.  Apparently, she studied the George Romero edition of the New Testament.

I refuse to replay her understanding of the Trinity.  You wouldn't believe it in any case.

By this time, my alternatives seemed to be either saintly patience or aggravated assault.  Straining to be a gentleman, however, I said, "Miss, I have been trying very hard not to eavesdrop on your conversation, but it's not working.  Could you please lower the volume?"

She looked at me like I just hit her with a brick.

That was entirely satisfactory.  I can live with a virtual brick.  She did shut up.

Two of the folks in the row in front of us turned around and mouthed the words "Thank you!"

I thought I heard a sigh of relief from the priest.