Man Says Southwest Booted Him From Plane for Not Checking $80K Violin

Nov 8, 2018

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Southwest Airlines is popular with traveling musicians, who often find more available overhead bin space for their instruments with the budget carrier than on other airlines. But the LUV carrier may no longer be a fan favorite with this professional violinist.

Professional violinist Emmanuel Borowsky claims he was forced to deplane from a Southwest flight departing from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport (MHT) to Baltimore (BWI) after he refused to check his $80,000 violin.

“After checking in last night and arriving early to the gate, I was met with full overhead bins on the plane,” Borowsky wrote in a Facebook post. The availability of extra seating space prompted me to place my violin there. In response, I was requested to check in my violin. As fellow musicians can understand, checking in my violin is an absolute non-option.” The next plane out didn’t depart for another six hours and caused Borowsky to miss business meetings and presentations at the University of Maryland, College Park, as well as a teaching session at Towson University, he said. “Despite being a loyal Southwest customer who uses them exclusively when the option is available, I am very disappointed with the treatment I received this morning,” he said in his summary. In a follow-up with Classic FM, Borowsky also said that, “They only offered me one option – either the violin goes in the hold, or you get off. There wasn’t any negotiating, I wasn’t going to make a scene and they weren’t willing to be reasonable, so I had to get off the flight.”

Professional violinist Emmanuel Borowsky recently missed meetings on the East Coast after leaving a Southwest flight that would have required him to check his $80,000 violin. Image courtesy of Borowsky.


Borowsky, an international performer who has toured in more than three dozen countries, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from the University of Maryland.

Southwest offered a statement regarding the incident, saying,“We regret that [Borowsky] had anything less than an outstanding experience as we always strive to provide our legendary Southwest Hospitality on every flight. Our records indicate that the customer was among the very last to board the full flight and, unfortunately, the overhead bins spaces were filled with the carry-on baggage of other customers.”

Paying $15 for early-bird check-in is one way musicians like Borowsky can avoid similar fiascos on Southwest. Another professional violinist, Pasha Sabouri, told TPG that Southwest is his much-cheaper alternative to paying for first-class seats on other airlines that come with more additional overhead space. “I just pay for the early boarding and I never have a problem,” Sabouri said. “On Southwest, people actually check their bags because they don’t have to pay for it!”

Featured photo courtesy of Emmanuel Borowsky.

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