AMC officials warn passengers that baggage must meet weight limits
Stars and Stripes December 28, 2004
With the holiday travel season at its peak, Air Mobility Command officials around the Pacific have a message for on-duty and space-available passengers: pack light.
A significant number of travelers are showing up for roll call unaware of the weight limits placed on personal baggage.
“It’s always been a problem here,” said Master Sgt. Richard Lawton, noncommissioned officer in charge of passenger service for the AMC terminal at Osan Air Base, South Korea. “You feel for the guys but we have to adhere to our standards.”
Whether on official or space-A status, passengers can check in just two pieces of baggage, which cannot exceed 70 pounds each, Lawton said. If those limitations aren’t met, the bag will be counted as two pieces.
Items exceeding 100 pounds won’t be accepted and must be moved as freight.
There are certain exceptions, Lawton said. B-4 duffel and sea bags are allowed as one piece regardless of size, provided they don’t weigh more than 100 pounds. That policy also applies to large garment bags, golf clubs, snow skis, portable bicycles, fishing equipment, rucksacks and musical instruments, he said.
Only one of these outsized or irregularly shaped bags per person will be granted the exception and the second piece still must be of more normal luggage size and weigh 70 pounds or less.
“We’ve had bags weigh as much as 100 pounds,” Lawton said. “The person carrying it has to get rid of it or pay the excess-baggage fee. A lot of times, we wind up giving the stuff that has to be left behind away to the orphanages.”
The excess-baggage charge is $84, but that option is available only to duty passengers with travel orders. Space-available travelers must be within the weight standards. “Basically, they have to get rid of that stuff if they plan on traveling,” Lawton said.
Korean-made bags are among the most cumbersome that surface for check-in at Osan, he added. “If they have that bag, we basically go by that weight. If ... they fill it up, more than likely it’s going to exceed the 70-pound limit,” Lawton said.
Osan AMC officials have sent letters to transportation offices around the theater that detail baggage limitations and requirements, Lawton said, adding that he believes the information isn’t always being given AMC passengers.
“I don’t think travelers are being informed by their travel offices,” he said. “Most of the passengers we talk to say they didn’t know. They don’t know. Those letters are in each base’s travel offices, where they get itinerary tickets for travel.
“These passengers should be given a copy of this letter along with their itinerary. We mainly want to let people know what the limitations are.”
The weight problem hasn’t been nearly as prevalent at the AMC terminals on Yokota Air Base in Japan and Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, said officials at those bases.
Master Sgt. Thomas Johnson, noncommissioned officer in charge of passenger services for Yokota’s 730th Air Mobility Squadron, said travelers can take some simple steps to ensure they don’t haul cumbersome luggage into the terminal.
“The smart thing to do is try to pack lightly,” he suggested. “When traveling in groups, try to pool your baggage. That takes up excess weight and distributes it to other baggage.”
Avoid transporting liquids such as shampoo, hair products and detergents, Johnson added: “Things in liquid form tend to weigh more.”
“Just make every attempt to travel light,” he said. “If your goal is to go shopping, then carry the bare minimum. Don’t carry an excessive change of clothes and personal items. If you don’t need it, leave those things behind.
“The bottom line, you need to be aware of the baggage limitations. Once people stay within those limits, they’ll be fine.”
Yoko Miyagi, a travel clerk at the Kadena AMC terminal, said different aircraft have differing baggage restrictions. Passengers on smaller planes such as the C-12, C-21 and UC-35 are limited to a maximum of two bags weighing a total of 30 pounds, she said, while the 70-pound standard is applied to Patriot Express flights.
“If the bags are overweight, we cannot accept the passengers,” she said. “Sometimes people show up and we have to turn them away. They have too much weight. We tell them to open bags and take out items to get under the limit.
The weight standards exist to maintain flight safety, Lawton said. The Allowable Cabin Load — an aircraft’s weight limit — cannot be exceeded.
“If we end up getting too much weight on the aircraft, we have to bump passengers and bags to get below that ACL,” he added. “Our problems are mainly surfacing on the Patriot Express flights.”
Lawton also preaches the light approach to AMC travel, regardless of the type.
When undergoing a permanent change of station, he advised, “Ship the majority of your items with your household goods and only take the necessary items that you need. Avoid the big shopping binge the day prior to your flight.”