Today, the House of Representatives passed an amendment by Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-3) and Congressman Michael Grimm (NY-13), which seeks to exempt those soldiers who travel back and forth from theatre of operations from paying excess commercial airline baggage fees. The amendment was offered on the House floor and was submitted as part of 2012 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 2219).
"When I learned that soldiers returning from deployment were forced to pay for bags they were under orders to carry on a commercial airline, I was outraged," said Runyan. "We owe it to our brave soldiers that when we deploy them and their necessary equipment, they should not worry about what it will cost to ship it. I appreciate the House's support to clear any ambiguity and ensure this will never occur again."
"Getting gouged by airlines while headed into combat is completely unacceptable," said Grimm. "Every day, our brave men and women in uniform put their lives on the line on the battlefields, and they deserve our sincerest gratitude, not a bill for excessive baggage fees. As a Marine who served in combat, I personally thank Congressman Runyan for offering this amendment and I am proud to have introduced it with him."
Runyan's amendment was crafted after news broke about 36 reservists returning from Afghanistan paid more than $2,800 in out-of-pocket baggage expenses because they carried a fourth bag. To correct this in the future, the amendment language states the following:
" None of the funds in this Act may be used to procure air transportation from a commercial air carrier for a member of the Armed Forces who is traveling under orders to deploy to or return from an overseas contingency operation under terms that allow the carrier to charge the member fees for checked baggage other than for bags weighing more than 80 pounds or bags in excess of four per individual."
Final passage of HR 2219 is expected later this evening.