Musician Kicked off AA Flight for Cello Even Though She Followed All the Rules
Abiding by all the guidelines didn't help a professional musician from Chicago when American Airlines kicked her off a flight from Miami because she was carrying a cello.
Jingjing Hu, a DePaul University music student, was returning home on Thursday from a Florida music festival when she was asked to leave her seat on Flight 2457 from Miami (MIA) to Chicago (ORD). She'd already bought a separate ticket for her large stringed instrument and called ahead and been told she wouldn't have any problems traveling with it on board, her husband, Jay Tang, said on Facebook. She'd even made the flight down to Miami (on a Boeing 757) with no issues.
But just before the the plane was about to close its door, flight attendants told her she had to get off the plane because her $30,000 cello was too big for the plane, a 737.
Hu got off the plane, assured she'd be able to catch the next flight to Chicago an hour later. But airline agents at MIA told her she'd need to buy a business- or first-class ticket to travel back to Chicago — or find another airline.
"I don’t think we did anything wrong here and I think the way they handled it was humiliating," Tang told NBC 5 in Chicago.
American eventually flew Hu back to Chicago the next morning, but she said the experience was frustrating and painful.
"You had so many chances to tell me 'you cannot board' yesterday," she said. "You never told me until I sat down."
AA spokeswoman Sunny Rodriguez said the incident was the result of a misunderstanding.
"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," she said in an email. "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."
Musicians are famously protective of their valuable instruments, and are known to take extreme precautions when flying with them. Experts recommend various methods for getting fragile items, like musical instruments or sports equipment, safely to your destination.