American Airlines has been accused of unreasonable behavior for removing a woman from a plane as she was carrying an over-sized cello even though she had purchased a seat for the instrument. According to a Facebook post shared by the woman’s husband, the airline told her prior to her booking that she could carry the instrument on board.
“I purchased two round trip tickets for her and her cello on April 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 absolutely [sic] allowed and she won’t have any problem,” musician Jingjing Hu’s husband Jay Tang wrote on Facebook. The cello was worth $30,000.
Hu, a music student at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, traveled to Miami to perform in a music festival. The post said she did not face any problem while traveling to Miami but during her return flight, the plane’s crew asked her to leave the plane as the cello was too big. However, Hu claimed the instrument met seat size restrictions.
According to federal regulations, passengers can carry instruments like cellos in the cabin if they purchased a seat for the item.
Hu’s husband, however, believes the size of the pricey instrument was not the issue. He claimed his wife was removed because the flight was overbooked.
“Interestingly my wife was traveling 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 added, referencing that his wife was escorted off the plane by law enforcement.
In a statement to Fox News, American Airlines said 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.”
This is not the first incident when an airline was slammed over removing passengers due to an overbooked flight. The issue of overbooked flights and treatment of airlines toward passengers came under scrutiny after the David Dao case.
In April last year, the 69-year-old Vietnamese-American physician was dragged out of a United Airlines plane after refusing to give up his seat to airline employees. The flight was scheduled to travel from Chicago to Louisville, Kentucky. Due to the use of excessive force to remove him from the jet, Dao suffered a concussion, a broken nose and two knocked-out teeth. He also reportedly required surgery for a sinus problem.