SINGAPORE — A U.S. service member who was onboard missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is still waiting for his travel claim to be approved, nearly 12 weeks after the plane's disappearance in which 239 passengers and flight crew failed to land as scheduled in Beijing, China, or anywhere for that matter.
Despite years of development and millions of dollars spent on the Pentagon's Defense Travel System, it appears no plan was made for travelers who fail to make it to a final destination where they can close out their travel claim. As a result, Staff Sgt. Timothy Wilson will be stuck footing the bill for what is likely to be a costly stay.
"We don't even know what his current lodging rate is," said Patrick Dubois, the civilian in charge of the missing service member's administration office. "He could be anywhere, including the middle of the ocean, and we don't even have a standard rate for that."
To further complicate the matter, Wilson is two months behind on his government travel card and could face battalion non-judicial punishment for not making a payment.
Speaking to Duffel Blog reporters, Sgt. Maj. Alfred Boyd said troops are ultimately responsible for paying their card on time, despite any unique circumstances that may arise.
"I don't know where he is," said Boyd, "And I don't care. As long as he gets off my delinquent list."
According to the sergeant major, the missing service member's battalion commander has better things to do than to chase him down for not paying his government travel card on time.
Settling his credit card bill could be the least of Wilson's problems concerning his travel. According to his unit, he still has to turn in the computer he signed for and check out of his barracks room. Per base order, service members are not authorized to maintain a room in the barracks when they will be on temporary duty for more than 60 days.
"We've already extended him a week," said Staff Sgt. Edward Nickel, the barracks senior staff non-commissioned officer. "There is nothing more we can do for him."