To gauge power of social media, don’t look at Anthony Weiner – Delta’s the example

You can talk about U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner and the power of Twitter all you want.

But this video, made inflight on a Delta airliner by U.S. soldiers on their way home from Afghanistan on Tuesday, shows the real influence of social media:

Given the space restrictions, the video shows excellent stagecraft and is helped immensely by a no-nonsense director — a staff sergeant who immediately puts his own name behind his complaint. More details can be found here.

Forcing sweat to appear on the upper lip of a New York congressman is a small trick compared to sending a multi-billion dollar organization into bent-knee apology mode.

The following Delta press release moved at 1 p.m. today:

Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today increased its free checked baggage allotment for U.S. Military traveling on orders in Economy Class to four checked bags.

Delta’s revised baggage policy also allows U.S. military personnel traveling on orders in First and Business Class to check up to five bags at no charge. 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 accept up to four bags at no charge.

For personal travel, active military presenting military identification may now check up to two bags weighing 50 pounds (23 kg) or less and measuring 62 inches (158 linear cm) or less in combined length, width and height without charge.

Previously, Delta’s policy allotted three free checked bags in Economy Class and four in First and Business Class for military members traveling on orders.

In other words, Delta may have been taking care of ranking officers, but the lower ranks in economy were being left to fend for themselves.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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26 comments Add your comment

Jeana Brown

June 8th, 2011
12:58 pm

Another glowing corporation’s Patriotism.


June 8th, 2011
1:06 pm

I’m confused.

Were these soldiers flying first class or coach?

The soldiers say they are authorized to carry up to four bags for free but this time Delta made them pay for the fourth?

Delta’s policy, per the link to the blog, was to allow four bags in first class and three in coach for free.

Were the soldiers in coach and arguing that Delta’s stated policy of three bags was actually incorrect and that the military contract allowed four free bags in coach?


June 8th, 2011
1:09 pm

Delta lost its corporate morality a decade and a half ago with Ron Allen. They continued to spiral down under Leo Mullin, Gerald Grinstein, and now have fully turned into awful Northwest Airlines with their former CEO Richard Anderson. Retirees and customers are treated like castoffs and necessary evils. The attitudes of most employees now reflect the callous nature of the past and current CEO’s and their senior staffs listed above.

Southwest will be roundly welcomed in Atlanta for domestic travel.


June 8th, 2011
1:18 pm

But I thought the free market was always right? With no regulations, who would soldiers serving honorably have to go to and complain about their horrible Delta experience?

Last Man Standing

June 8th, 2011
1:35 pm

I won’t be flying Delta anymore . . .


June 8th, 2011
1:38 pm

Ralph is correct. When Delta passed over Hollis Harris in favor of Ron Allen., the airline went into a tail spin (pun intended.) Management sacrificed employee and customer alike to gain short term profits. Sorry to see a great Atlanta instituion has totally lost it’s soul. Maybe SW will turn up the heat on them!


June 8th, 2011
2:45 pm

Meh. When I’m traveling for work and incur a checked bag fee I don’t blame Delta. I simply pay it and then submit it to my company for payment. I completely agree that these soldiers shouldn’t be subjected to huge fees when they’re just trying to follow orders. However, it shouldn’t really be an airline’s responsibility to accommodate them.

That’s kind of like saying that soldiers have to fly, so Delta shouldn’t charge them for a ticket (although I’m sure they already receive a military discount or receive their travel arrangements through some sort of contract with special rates).


June 8th, 2011
2:55 pm

I’ve searched other news sites for articles about this story and have yet to read any report that states Delta violated any supposed contract they had with the military. In fact, I read that American, Continental, United and US Airways all offer three free checked bags to military travelers.

So I have to ask again, were all these soldiers flying first class or coach?

Can anyone actually verify that Delta violated its own policy or supposed contract with the military?

How long has this policy (three bags in coach; four bags in first class) been in place? Why have we seen no other soldiers complain about this policy? How many trips had the soldiers in this video taken and what were their prior experiences with checked baggage?


June 8th, 2011
3:09 pm

They were flying coach. They brought four bags and they only got three free, so each soldier had to pay around $200 in checked baggage fees.

The first class vs. coach information was mentioned because it’s possible the soldiers were under the impression that the four bag policy applied to all classes of carriage, not just first class.


June 8th, 2011
3:16 pm

Delta used to be a good airline but their customer service is slipping away as is evidenced by this story and another story that shows their customer service rankings has dropped some more.


June 8th, 2011
3:21 pm

The video made it look to me like they were flying coach, but no article about this story reports that fact. I agree that it might have been a misunderstanding on the soldiers part of the four bag policy. In fact, until I actually read an article that states Delta violated its own policy or supposed contract with the military, I’m going to assume that based on the facts currently available the soldiers were actually wrong. I find it hard to believe that after almost ten years of war and hundreds of thousands of soldiers flying commercial airlines during that time, that this baggage policy just now became a problem for these guys.


June 8th, 2011
4:49 pm

I am sick of those people that went to the army and then assume everyone own them something.


June 8th, 2011
4:56 pm

I have to agree with Jay, what contract did Delta not abide by? From a PR perspective, I can understand the grief they are receiving but contracturally, did they do anything wrong?


June 8th, 2011
6:13 pm

Thanks, Ernest. I, too, understand the bad PR Delta is getting, but unfortunately the masses don’t let the facts get in the way of righteous anger.

The other articles about this story I’ve read have comments from people who claim to have served in the military. Based on their remarks, it sounds like airline employees cut them a lot of slack when it comes to flying, such as allowing extra bags at no charge.

It’s interesting that whoever uploaded the original video on Youtube has now removed it. I imagine those soldiers’ superior officers were not to pleased to see them complaining in uniform, especially if they were wrong about the policy.


June 8th, 2011
9:33 pm

Those soldiers should be ashamed of themselves for dragging down a company that has provided admirable service to the military for years. Delta did exactly what it was supposed to do and have to suffer the criticisms of these so called soldiers for doing their jobs. The people at Delta do more to support soldiers and their families then most companies and this is what they get in return – a bunch of whiney guys making a Youtube video because they could not abide by a simple policy. Never once did my grandfather complain about sitting in a Japanese prison camp for four years. He did not have the luxury of flying back and forth home from his post in the convenience of commercial airliners. Has our military really gotten this soft that they tolerate videos of soldiers whining on Youtube?


June 8th, 2011
10:00 pm

F Delta! If Bin Laden brought down a Delta Jet, the same soldiers they screwed would be the ones dying to protect their corporate profits. For those for you spouting legalisms, forget it! The reason for the financial collapse of America is that we don’t demand any moral standards for corporations, banks, hedge fund managers and wall street swindlers. The small time crooks rot in jail while the big white collar criminals live in mansions and fly in luxury jets.


June 8th, 2011
10:14 pm

I agree with Q. It seems like Delta was more than accommodating. Maybe they should have reduced first class freebies to 3 bags.

big hat

June 8th, 2011
10:42 pm

…and don’t forget the phony “we’re just family” act when Ft. 191 went down in Dallas. 24 months later, Delta was arguing in court that any unmarried male over 30 was probably gay and would be dead of AIDS soon, and therefore had much less “value” in any settlement. True, part of the court records.


June 8th, 2011
10:50 pm

it’s not a socialist airline. delta is a corporation beholden to shareholders. profit is god. sick of so-called heroes looking for freebie handouts. what’s next on the commie agenda free peanuts.


June 8th, 2011
10:55 pm

left/right? i care!

June 9th, 2011
9:03 am

wrong, wrong, wrong. you are all wrong. Delta nor any other airline should charge soldiers for “extra luggage” . it is not as if these people are traveling for pleasure– they are moving from place to place and have to take all of their belongings with them. the cost for that should not come out of their pockets. many of their families are on food stamps and their children are having to do without both parents, why? so that we in America can go to work every day and provide for our own families. so that other countries KNOW they cannot invade us without PAYBACK. most of us make much more than these soldiers do. you guys have cracked your heads. Delta– my love of an airline– take care of the protectors of our country!!!

left/right? i care!

June 9th, 2011
9:10 am

sorry, upset– airlines should NOT charge soldiers…


June 9th, 2011
10:35 am

The Third Amendment was written because the British thought their soldiers should be allowed to move into your homes and eat your food and steal your horses, just because they were soldiers.

Millions of people travel every day for business, and their expenses are paid by their company. If these soldiers went over the already generous baggage policy, the government should pay for it. If the government doesn’t think they should pay for it, then the soldiers were acting against government policy as well.

They keep talking about how that fourth bag contained military equipment. What was in the other three bags? Check the important one first and then tell us about how seventy pounds of dirty underwear is keeping us safe from terrorism.


June 9th, 2011
2:19 pm

If airlines are providing free flights then it’s only because other airlines do. Maybe the soldier should get a free cab ride after he gets off the plane. And free food at every diner and restaurant. And free lodging at every hotel. Or better yet, they can just choose your car at the airport and you can drive them where they need to go. And you can pay for their meals. And buy them some lottery tickets and beer. And you can put them up at your house. All 10 of them. In other words, stop ordering corporations to do their part if you will not do it.

Tech Man

June 9th, 2011
9:50 pm

This story would have been picked up by any news outlet. This story shows the power of smartphones.

Tech Man

June 9th, 2011
9:54 pm

My take is the military should pay all costs for these soldiers to get home including all their belongings.