American Airlines is investigating after a musician bought an extra seat for a cello but was removed anyway.
A passenger on an American Airlines flight says she was removed from the plane before departure because of the size of her cello – even though she had bought an additional seat for it.
She says the airline had earlier assured her husband she would be able to take it on board and fly beside it, especially as she had bought an extra seat.
“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 this was absolutely allowed and she wouldn’t have any problem,” Jingjing Hu’s husband Jay Tang recounted.
A student at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, Hu had flown to Miami to perform in a festival.
“When I flew from Chicago to Miami I didn’t have any trouble,” she told the radio station WMAQ, adding that a flight attendant even gave her a strap to hold the pricey instrument, worth $30,000, in place.
But when she boarded her return flight, crew members asked her to get off the plane, according to Fox News, telling her the cello was too big for the seat.
According to US federal rules, musicians can carry instruments like cellos in the cabin if an extra seat is purchased.
Cello too big?
The flight attendants say Hu was removed because the plane was too small for the instrument. But Tang thinks she was removed because the flight was overbooked.
“My wife was travelling 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 says. “They just kick off passengers when they oversell their tickets.”
An investigation is being conducted.