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United Airlines charges soldiers $200 for overweight military bag on way home from serving in Afghanistan

By Mason White 12:43 PM May 19, 2017
John Rader
John Rader
By: Emily Lewis

(Scroll down for video) A soldier said that he will never fly with United Airlines again after he and another soldier were charged for their overweight military bags.

First Lieutenant John Rader, a national guardsman, was returning home to Kyle, Texas.

He had been serving 21-month deployment in Afghanistan, and he was carrying his military vest, two helmets, boots and other items.

As he and his friend tried to board the United Airlines flight from El Paso, Texas, to their home, they were told that their military issued duffle bags were overweight.

They two were given a choice to separate their items into another bag to avoid overweight charges. However, they did not have other suitcases or bags.

They were forced to pay $200 to board the plane home. Rader said that he had been in the military since 2006, and he had been on many military assignments with this bag, but he was never charged before.

Rader decided to take his story public in hopes that United Airlines will change their policy and be more lenient towards soldiers.

United Airlines released a statement, saying that they will return the money to the soldiers.

“We are disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t meet their expectations, and our customer care team is reaching out to this customer to issue a refund for his oversized bag as a gesture of goodwill,” the company said.

Rader was happy to get his money back, but he still he wants to see a long-term policy change in the airline.

United Airlines allows active military members to check five bags for free. However, the bags have to be less than 70 pounds.

With Southwest Airlines, active military members are exempt from their two piece baggage limit as long as all pieces are under 100 pounds.

American Airlines allows active military members to take up to five bags for free up to 100 pounds each.