Flying back from Munich last weekend, it was wonderful to see that United Airlines has begun giving active duty servicemen priority boarding, even before United’s most elite frequent fliers board. It is a simple courtesy that, over the past couple years, other airlines like US Air and American Airlines have also extended . Our servicemen deserve no less for the sacrifice they make, a sacrifice which so many intellectuals isolated from the military cannot even begin to fathom.
Alas, sometimes the intent of a policy and its implementation are two different things. An active duty servicewoman (with an active duty identification card) came forward to board the flight but was turned away by the gate agent because she was not wearing a uniform. The airline personnel may not have known that the US military urges servicemen and servicewomen traveling internationally to wear civilian clothes whenever possible for security reasons. This policy is even more urgent after the shootings of U.S. Air Force personnel at Frankfurt Airport.
United and other airlines are on the right track, but it is not the uniform itself that brings honor to the men and women in military service, but rather the reverse. If airlines want to honor our servicemen and women, they should do just that and focus on active duty service, not the clothes which passengers wear.