- American Airlines kicked a musician off a flight from Miami to Chicago last week, saying her cello did not meet seat-size requirements for the plane.
- The Chicago-based musician’s husband said they purchased tickets for both her and her cello after being assured by the airline that she would be able to fly with it.
- American Airlines released a statement blaming the incident on a “miscommunication.”
American Airlines kicked a musician and her $30,000 cello off a flight even though she had purchased a seat for the instrument.
The incident occurred on Thursday on American Airlines Flight 2457 from Miami to Chicago.
Jingjing Hu, a DePaul University music student, had flown to Miami for a music festival. Her husband, Jay Tang, said in a Facebook post that when they bought tickets for both her and her cello, they were assured by the airline that the cello would be allowed on Hu’s departing and returning flights.
In an interview with NBC5 Chicago, Hu said, “We always buy an extra ticket for our cello so that we can carry our cello on the plane,” adding that it is worth $30,000.
Nothing appeared to be problematic on Hu’s first leg of the trip, she said.
“When I flew from Chicago to Miami, I didn’t have any trouble with that,” she told NBC5 Chicago, adding that the crew on the Miami flight had given her a special strap to hold the large instrument.
But Hu said that after boarding her flight back to Chicago, an American Airlines flight attendant told her that her instrument was too big and that the aircraft, a Boeing 737, was too small to hold it.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “federal regulations allow musicians to carry instruments like cellos in the cabin if passengers purchase an additional seat.”
American Airlines’ policy says that if passengers buy a seat for their instrument, it must not weigh more than 165 pounds and must meet the plane’s seat-size restrictions. NBC5 Chicago reported that Hu’s instrument weighed less than 10 pounds.
In a statement to Business Insider, an American Airlines representative said:
“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.”
Tang wrote in his Facebook post that after Hu was escorted off the plane and while she was trying to find a new flight to accommodate her, she was surrounded by three police officers and told she could purchase either first-class or business-class tickets out of pocket. After staying overnight at a Holiday Inn, Hu arrived back home in Chicago, cello in tow.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong here,” Tang told NBC5 Chicago, “and I think the way they handled it was humiliating.”
Tang had earlier posted a photo Hu took of the flight’s captain giving her the peace sign as she was being led off the plane.
@AmericanAir @cbschicago @abcnews @WGNNews @FoxNews @DePaulU Please help! American Airlines kicked my wife out of the plane for some other passengers and she cannot get back pic.twitter.com/eGObjJdDwu
— Jay TANG (@Mr_JaYtanG) August 3, 2018