UPDATED, SEE BELOW
I do a fair bit of business with you, and in the past was a multi-year platinum frequent flier. To say that I am disgusted with your charging individual soldiers for checked baggage is an understatement. I do understand that you have a policy in place, one worked out with DoD, but to charge the individual members of a unit for checked baggage under these cirucmstances may have been technically correct, but was otherwise completely and totally f'ing stupid. In fact stupid beyond belief.
It is, in point of fact, blazingly, incandescently, stupid. The issue should have been worked, and it should NOT have come out of the pockets of the individual troops. Period F'ing Dot. If this was the result of a gate agent not having the sense to get higher involved, they need to be working elsewhere as they are not an asset to your operation.
If your leadership has a brain, or a functioning PR/Marketing department, you WILL refund those troops and apologize to them within 24-hours. You will also need to take some other pro-active steps if you want to weather the storm. If there was a bill to be paid, put it to DoD and not to those who are just getting back from putting their lives on the line for you.
I understand that you have policy, and need to make money, but even if technically correct the $2,800 you gained is about to cost you tens of thousands of dollars if not more. Want to save yourself some serious hurt? Make it right, even if it is not your policy to do so.
To Delta Sr. Management: Many years ago, there was a series of PSA's that dealt with driving safety, and ended with the phrase "They were right, they were dead right." You may be right, and the law and policy are on your side, but if you don't get a handle on this fast, you are likely to be road kill just like the drivers in those PSAs.
Meantime, if those of you here want to let Delta know how you feel:
P.O. Box 20980
Atlanta, GA 30320-2980
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm ET (except on U.S. holidays)
Corporate Headquarters: Go HERE for phone number and link to e-mail
Keep it civil, but fire for effect.
UPDATE: I had wondered how this had gone as viral as it had, as fast as it did, and part of the answer: WXIA gave it a good push (or three). Between that and the military social media network, it took off. I still think they have 24-hours to get ahead of this, but the clock is ticking and if nothing happens by COB today, Delta will take a serious hit. Especially since Fox is now running with this. You no longer have days to respond, but hours if not minutes. The slower they are, the worse it will be for them.
As promised, a link to a dissenting opinion about this post and the flap. Please do read it, and discuss. That's what this is all about -- the marketplace of ideas.
UPDATE II: Delta has taken some very positive steps:
First and foremost, we want you to know we’re continuing to work with the soldiers individually to make this situation right for each of them. We regret that this experience caused these soldiers to feel anything but welcome on their return home. We honor their service and are grateful for the sacrifices of our military service members and their families.
After careful consideration, effective immediately, U.S. military personnel traveling on orders in First and Business Class can check up to five bags at no charge and 4 bags in economy class. This change also adds dependents traveling with active military on orders. Each bag may weigh up to 70 lbs. (32 kg) and measure up to 80 linear inches (203 cm), which offers added flexibility over the standard 50 lbs. and 62 linear inches (157 cm) allotment. Because of weight, balance and space constraints, Delta Connection carriers will accept up to four bags at no charge. You can read the updates to the travel policy on delta.com.
There is a bit more and you can read it here. Kudos to Delta for not only doing good, but doing it fairly quickly. Compare and contrast this to United and Hallmark. As far as I know, United has still not done right by Gina (and has had its own military baggage issues) and Hallmark talked just a little and did even less it appears.
Final Update: For those swearing to never fly Delta again, and they are legion, I hope you will reconsider. As for me, because they not only have adopted the best military-friendly policy of any major domestic carrier and because they responded to the media storm effectively (not quite as quickly as should, but better than most), not only will I give them business, but I plan to give them a good bit of business. They stepped up in this case, so it is only right and fair to give them props for that and to reward the changes. Someone does good/right, say it. It's not all about the busting. Just some food for thought.