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United, Continental, Delta and American Airlines have increased the number of bags U.S. soldiers can check in for free. Delta, United and Continental will allow soldiers to check in 4 bags, instead of 3, without being charged. Soldiers traveling on American Airlines are now allowed to check in 5 bags free.

In case you haven’t heard about it, soldiers on a Delta flight posted a YouTube videos Tuesday, criticizing the airline for charging $200 for each soldier who checked a 4th bag. One Army staff sergeant in the video said he was charged for a bag containing his M4 carbine rifle and other weaponry. The soldiers were heading to Atlanta from Baltimore. They had arrived in the US the previous day from Afghanistan.

Take a look at the video that sparked public outrage against the airlines. Tell us what you think, and check out Travel Channel’s tips to help you travel with ease.

The devastation in Japan after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, but if you need a lighthearted distraction here are the travel stories that had us scratching our heads.

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Cyndi Lauper sings during airport layover: While on tour in South America, the singer belted out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to stranded passengers at the Buenos Aires airport. [YouTube]

Toddler put in overhead locker: Flight attendant fired over alleged peek-a-boo game, but child’s mother is outraged. [Herald Sun]

Delta passenger slips past security with stolen boarding pass: TSA is investigating the incident at New York’s Kennedy airport. [HuffingtonPost]

Continental cuts flight staple: Claims it will save airline $2.8 million annually. [CNN]

Homeless thrive as tour guides: Offer ‘Unseen Tours’ in London for roughly $10, “depending on your circumstances.” [Gadling]

High Oil Prices Spark Airplane Fees

Rising fuel costs has prompted airline carriers to look for ways to increase revenue. One idea is to charge travelers for items that were once free, including on-board sales of food, drinks, pillows, blankets and entertainment. Industry officials say airlines prefer complex fees to additional fare hikes because people will quit buying tickets if airlines raise prices too high.

American Airlines, United-Continental and Delta are among the carriers considering various new fees. The airlines have proposed charging customers for seat assignments, where a family of 4 will start paying anywhere from $10 to $16 to choose their seats.

Elite or business and first-class passengers would be exempt from the airlines’ proposed seat assignment fee. Travel experts believe airlines will waive the fee for travelers who book a flight and choose their seat within the last 24 hours. But fliers may pay a fee if they want to choose and confirm their seat well in advance.

Other proposed fees include charging for customized travel, including fancy food and champagne in economy class, security-line services and travel-concierge services.

Delta and American Airlines Increase Airfare

Delta and American Airlines have increased their fares, targeting First Class and Business Class passengers who make last-minute purchases.

Here’s a quick breakdown. If you’re flying less than 500 miles each way, then you’ll receive a $20 hike in fare price. For 501 to 1,500 miles, expect a fare increase of $40. Last-minute travelers will pay $60 more if their flight is 1,500 miles or more each way.

An increase in oil prices has forced Delta to increase their fare prices. The Associated Press asked American why it was raising prices. They simply replied, “We’re responding to the Delta initiative.”

Check out our review of the Kayak app and how you can travel in business class for less.  Our tips may help you minimize your airfare costs.

Snowstorm Cripples the Midwest

A major storm of ice, snow and freezing rain has forced airlines to cancel more than 4,500 flights. The 2,100-mile stretch of wintery weather – from Texas to Maine – has halted airport traffic and closed airports, including Oklahoma City’s Will Rogers World Airport and Tulsa International Airport.

Airports in Newark, NJ, and Chicago are the hardest hit with more than 600 flight cancellations each, according to Flightware.com. Chicago is expected to get 2 feet of snow, breaking its snowfall record set in 1967. The Windy City is a hub for several major airlines, including United and American.

Windy weather with zero visibility had sparked Delta Airlines to cancel 625 flights today. JetBlue is canceling flights in and out of New York’s JFK airport for the rest of today with some flights expected to resume Wednesday afternoon. The airline plans to shut down its flights servicing Boston starting tonight. Officials at JetBlue say service may not may not be up and running until Thursday morning.

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