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A United Airlines Express jet takes off from Pittsburgh International Airport, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

United made a homeward-bound soldier pay $200 for an overweight military duffel bag


National Guard First Lieutenant John Rader was traveling home this week when United Airlines charged him $200 because his 70-pound military duffel bag was overweight, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Rader's bag contained standard battlefield gear including a Kevlar vest, two helmets and boots.

Rader was deployed in Afghanistan for nearly two years and was on his way home from El Paso, Texas, to Austin, Texas.

United permits active military servicemen and women to check up to five bags for free as long as they are under 70 pounds. 

Rader was told that he could buy a second bag in which to put some of his gear, but he declined.

"There was no empathy to the situation. I'm not looking for sympathy, but some form of empathy in the situation. There was none of that. It was just cold. I had to either pay or leave the bag," Rader said.

Some on social media are unhappy at the soldier's treatment. 

United released a statement on Tuesday indicating that it would refund Rader's money. 

"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 airline said.

Rader said he hopes his story will lead to changes in the airline's policy -- but he won't be flying United anymore.

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