BUSINESS NEWS: American Airlines Passenger Kicked Off Flight After Buying Seat for Her $30,000 Cello

BUSINESS NEWS: American Airlines Passenger Kicked Off Flight After Buying Seat for Her $30,000 Cello

The airline claims they offered Myrna Herzog an extra seat for her instrument, but she declined. (Myrna Herzog Facebook)

A passenger on board an American Airlines flight says she was removed before takeoff because of the size of her cello – even though she had purchased a seat for the instrument, and claims American Airlines assured her husband she would be able to bring it on board.

“I purchased two round trip tickets for her and her cello on Apr.2 on the phone directly from AA and told them specifically that one ticket is for the cello as cabin baggage. I was told it is abosolutely allowed and she won’t have any problem,” musician Jingjing Hu’s husband Jay Tang wrote on Facebook.

Hu, a music student at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, had flown to Miami to perform in a music festival.

“When I flew from Chicago to Miami, I didn’t have any trouble with that,” Hu told WMAQ. The flight crew even gave her a special strap to hold the instrument in place.

The pricey instrument, which Hu says is worth $30,000, made it safely to Miami with her. However, when Hu boarded her return flight to Chicago on Thursday, airline crew members asked her to get off the plane, WBBM reported.

According to Hu, flight staff told her the cello was too big for the seat – though she insists it met seat size restrictions.

Federal regulations allow musicians to carry instruments like cellos in the cabin if passengers purchase a seat for the item.

Though flight attendants insist Hu was removed because the aircraft was too small for the instrument, Tang writes on Facebook that he believes she was removed because the flight was overbooked.

“Interestingly my wife was travelling with a friend, who remained on the plane. She told us that after my wife left, two other passengers came and sat in her and her cello’s seats,” he wrote.

“They just kick off passengers when they oversell their tickets using FAA regulations as an excuse. I could have been told those regulations when purchasing the ticket. My wife could have been told those regulations when flying from Chicago to Miami, at check in counter in Miami International Airport, at the gate or even when boarding the plane. Yet they chose to kick her out last minute after she was seated and her cello safely secured. They even need law enforcement involved,” Tang continued, referencing that his wife was escorted off the plane by law enforcement.

American Airlines released a statement to Fox News, saying the incident was part of a “miscommunication.”

“A passenger on flight 2457 from Miami to Chicago was traveling with her cello. Unfortunately, there was a miscommunication about whether the cello she was traveling with met the requirements to fit onboard the particular aircraft she was flying, a Boeing 737. We rebooked our passenger on a flight the next morning on a larger aircraft, a Boeing 767. We provided her a hotel and meal accommodations for the inconvenience. We apologize for the misunderstanding and customer relations has reached out to her.”

By Alexandra Deabler | Fox News
Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.
Related story:

Musicians outraged after airline severely damages 17th century instrument

Myrna Herzog was traveling from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Tel Aviv, Israel when she was allegedly forced to place her large 17th century viola da gamba in the hold for her Alitalia flight.

Herzog, the director of Israeli classical music group Phoenix, says she reluctantly handed it over only after she was unable to purchase a seat for the instrument, which is slightly smaller than a cello, because the flight was full. A viola da gamba, also known as a viol, is a string instrument played upright, similar to a cello.

The woman claimed the airline assured her that the instrument, valued at over $200,000, would be treated as a fragile item and handled with care by the staff.

When the Brazilian-born musician landed in Tel Aviv, her viol never appeared in baggage claim. Herzog says she went to the baggage reclaim desk to find out what happened.

“They went down to find it, and got back saying that it had arrived broken, and that I had to fill a form,” she told musical news website The Strad. “After I did so they brought it, and the sight was really horrific. Even they were horrified.”

The hard case in which the viola da gamba had been transported was partially destroyed, and the viol itself had been smashed in half.

“The instrument had a German Gewa hard case bearing several red tags of ‘Fragile’, without bridge, soundpost, pegs, strings or tailpiece, to ensure safety,” Herzog said to Strad.

“In the course of 40 years, I made many trips with viols. People used to let us have them inside the plane. When this was impossible, they were handled with care, and there were no problems. Nevertheless, year after year good will is being substituted by greed and disrespect for the musician,” she continued.

Herzog posted photos of the extremely damaged instrument on social media and received overwhelming support from many musicians who have blamed the airline.

One person wrote on Twitter, “@Alitalia – so this is how you treat musicians? This precious 17th C Viola da Gamba belongs to Myrna Herzog, a internationally respected expert in early music! This is how the instrument arrived in the luggage hall & yet @Alitalia have refused to take responsibility!”

Another wrote, “@Alitalia SHAME ON YOU For DESTROYING Myrna Herzog’s viola da gamba on Jan 3rd. Incredible. And it’s not just about reimbursing her. This is really serious…”

Sky News reported a musician, Patti Murray Lucas, saying “All of us musicians are traumatised and horrified at the sight of this senseless carelessness! I am SO sorry.”

While many sympathized with Herzog, there were others who held her responsible for the tragedy.

Paolo Tagliamento said to Sky News, “Every musician buys an extra ticket if the instrument is not hand luggage.”

Daniel Temnik added, Sky News reported, “Next time buy a seat… like every other self-respecting musician does.”

Alitalia airline said in a statement that it “regretted” what happened but claim they offered Herzog an extra seat, which she refused even though they told her “the best solution for such a delicate item was to bring it with her in the cabin.”

“That said, Alitalia deeply regrets what happened to Mrs Herzog and will proceed, having established the facts, with the reimbursement in compliance with the international regulations in force,” the statement concluded.

Herzog has refuted the claims of Alitalia, saying they never offered her a seat.

Herzog told The Strad she has taken her instrument to a restorer who said it could “take around a year to repair [the viol] properly and is trying to estimate the cost of such repair.”

By Alexandra Deabler | Fox News

[Editor’s note: Believe me, after sitting on an airplane and watching the ground crew literally throw bags onto the shuttle carts, I would NEVER check in a bag with something valuable in it. I’m pretty sure that a couple pair of those skis that had bags thrown on top of them ended up being cracked if not broken.]

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