Many government employees now face airline baggage fees
January 5, 2009
Flying got a little more expensive for some government personnel as Delta Air Lines recently changed its baggage fee policy.
"Effective December 5, 2008, government travelers on Delta domestic flights will no longer be exempt from the fee to check a first bag," said Cedric M. Green, chief of military pay for the Defense Military Pay Office at Camp Zama, Japan, in an e-mail last week.
Delta joins a growing list of airlines including AirTran, Midwest, United and US Airways that no longer exempt government employees from first bag check fees, according to the U.S. General Services Administration Web site.
The fee for checking a bag on Delta is $15 for the first bag and $25 for the second. Prior to the Dec. 5 change, Delta allowed customers to check one bag free of charge. However, the airline modified its baggage fee policy to align with Northwest Airlines ahead of the airlines’ upcoming merger, according to Delta’s Web site.
Other airlines listed on the GSA Web site that charge for checking a first bag are also in the $10 to $15 range, with prices for an additional bag ranging between $17 and $50.
Both Delta and Northwest allow U.S. military personnel on active duty with valid travel orders to check up to 10 pieces of luggage at no charge, according to their Web sites, and other airlines offer similar policies.
Green reminded servicemembers to make sure their orders clearly state that excess baggage is authorized when they travel, or they could get stuck with hefty baggage fees.
"Military members who do not have a Government travel charge card or personal charge card are strongly advised to request an advance if such charges are anticipated," he wrote, adding that it is a good idea to check with the airline as well as your commercial travel office, because often the airline will have more information about certain fees and policies.
"Additionally, United Airlines has instituted a fee for ‘human’ customer service," he wrote. "While United is the only airline to apply this fee, others might soon follow."
For a list of airline baggage fees and exemptions for U.S. government employees and servicemembers, go to the GSA travel Web site here.