A group of soldiers serving with the 95th Infantry Division, based in Georgia, returned home from Afghanistan on Monday, normally a pleasant experience for them. However, on their connecting flight with Delta Airlines from Baltimore to Atlanta, each of them who were traveling in coach class was charged $200 for checking a fourth bag. A video of the soldiers discussing the incident follows.

What caused the problem is that according to military policy, each soldier is permitted to check four bags when returning from their Afghan deployment. However, according to Delta policy, only three bags are allowed gratis, if a soldier is traveling coach class. The fourth bag must be paid for by the returning soldiers. In the case of this group, the total accrued cost was $2800. In Delta’s defense, their public relations social media manager pointed out that if the soldiers had traveled first class on the short flight, the fourth bag would not have caused them anything extra, a heartwarming decision on the airline’s part.

An interesting footnote is that, for at least some of the soldiers, the fourth bag was their weapons case. They were taking the Delta flight on their way to Fort Polk, Louisiana. Here is the video of some of the soldiers discussing the incident while on the plane.

I like to think I’m a solution-oriented kind of guy. So, in the interest of fairness, I’ve come up with two options. First, since Delta must have been aware of the government’s policy (this adventure is about to enter it’s second decade), they could provide soldiers with first-class or business class status automatically, regardless of where they actually are seated. Another possibility is that Delta change its policy to correspond with the military’s. Delta is one of the few airlines that is headquartered in the Deep South, where many military bases are also located.

On the other hand, the airline may find nickel-and-diming returning soldiers an effective tool to raise funds, similar to charging the rest of us $8 for a sandwich. I wonder if this will affect the choices the rest of us make when flying.