American Airlines Apologizes For Preventing Musician From Bringing Violin On Board

Image courtesy of Adam Fagen

American Airlines has apologized to a concert musician who wasn’t allowed to board a flight carrying her 18th-century violin, despite the airline’s policy that says small musical instruments can be treated as a traveler’s carry-on.

The woman says a flight attendant and the captain of an American Eagle flight from Chicago to Albuquerque, NM told her she’d have to valet-check the instrument, which she refused to do.

“Violins are too delicate to be checked,” she told the Associated Press.

And though her 1742 Guarneri is a rare and valuable instrument, that shouldn’t matter when it comes down to it, she says. “It could be a $50 student violin and the same problem exists.”

Both federal regulations and American’s own policy back her up: “Musical instruments are also considered a carry-on item and must fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you,” American’s carry-on policy reads.

In January 2015, the Department of Transportation finalized its rule regarding instruments as carry-ons as well, which requires airlines to let passengers bring their musical instruments on-board as their carry-on item as long as they’re complying with carrier’s rules (like that it must fit in an overhead bin or under a seat).

The musician says she hopes that her experience will serve as a reminder to other travelers who fly with their instruments.

“A law is only helpful if people know what it is,” the musician told the AP. “I hope that bringing this to light will help other musicians know their rights and obligations.”

An American spokeswoman told the AP that the captain of the flight had determined that her instrument couldn’t be safely secured in an overhead bin or under a seat. The musician was rebooked for travel Friday morning on a larger plane that the airline said could better handle her instrument as carry-on.

The airline says it reached out to the woman directly to apologize for the inconvenience.

American Airlines apologizes to musician for barring violin [Associated Press]