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Cellist Booted From American Airlines Flight After Buying Ticket for Instrument
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Cellist Booted From American Airlines Flight After Buying Ticket for Instrument

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Alan Diaz

CHICAGO – August 6, 2018

A Chicago musician traveling with her cello was removed from an American Airlines flight in Miami as she tried to return home.

American Airlines did not allow a professional cellist, Jinjing Hu, to carry a $ 30,000 instrument in the cabin of the aircraft, despite the fact that she paid the full cost of the seat. An unpleasant situation arose when the girl tried to return to Chicago from a music festival that took place in Miami. American Airlines staff first allowed the girl to take the seats, and then changed their minds and called the airport security to escort her off the place.

Jingjing Hu

This time there were no problems at first. Hu was cleared by security and American Airlines representative to board the plane on her return flight, and given the strap again even though it was a slightly smaller plane. But after securing the instrument, it appeared the airline had changed its mind. 

After she deplaned, Hu asked to see the regulations for traveling with a cello. She said they handed her a printout indicating that “bass violins/fiddles” are not permitted on a 737. Hu said the cello is not a bass violin or fiddle.

Jingjing Hu

Beneath the rules about bass violins and fiddles, a section in the printout about the cello reads, “Cello must be assigned a bulkhead window seat on a non-exit row.” It goes on to state “This can be in any cabin.” There is also mention of “757 equipment”.

Federal regulations allow musicians to carry oversized instruments like cellos in the cabin when passengers purchase an additional seat.

American’s own policy makes this clear on their website: as long as the instrument doesn’t weigh more than 165 pounds and meets unspecified "seat size restrictions based on airplane type."

Hu’s weighs less than 10. Still, she says she was escorted off the plane by law enforcement.

After Hu was removed, Schadt says a man and a woman promptly sat in the seats previously occupied by Hu and the cello. “She was off and the next people were on,” said Schadt.

After deplaning, Hu learned the next American Airlines plane to Chicago was the same size as the one she had been removed from. 

This is not the first time American Airlines has grossly violated passengers rights. Arbitrariness on the part of transport companies is become a more and more serious problem.

The main reasons for this are high legal costs for citizens, corruption and low competition in the air transport market.

In the United States, airlines can easily redirect the lawsuit filed against them to the Federal court, in which the average citizen does not have enough money. Today, 4 major airlines control 80% of domestic flights. And they all offer about the same low conditions of service. So passengers don't have much of a choice.

Moreover, the security rules and internal companies procedures  are specially designed in such a way that they do not correlate with common sense, but rather with making a profit. Profit also comes at the expense of security and does not allow a citizen to defend against the arbitrariness security services by legal means.

By the way, this is why musicians don't put their instruments with Luggage:

Musical instrument of the XVII century, viola da Gamba, or rather what is left of it after the flight in the Luggage compartment

Author: USA Really