- American Airlines kicked a musician off a flight from Miami to Chicago because they said her cello did not meet seat size requirements for the plane.
- The Chicago-based musician had already purchased a ticket for the cello after being told by American Airlines she could fly with it, the passenger claims.
- American Airlines released a statement, blaming the incident on a “miscommunication.”
American Airlines kicked a musician and her $30,000 off a Miami to Chicago flight after she had already purchased a seat for the instrument.
The incident occurred Thursday, August 2, on American Airlines flight 2457 from Miami to Chicago.
Jingjing Hu, a DePaul University music student, had flown to Miami from Chicago for a music festival. According to a Facebook post by her husband, Jay Tang, Hu had been previously assured that their cello would be allowed to fly on an American Airlines plane on both her departing and returning flight.
In an interview with NBC5 Chicago, Hu said, “We always buy a extra ticket for our cello so that we can carry our cello on the plane,” and said that the cello is worth $30,000.
Nothing appeared to be problematic on Hu’s first leg of the trip.
Hu told Chicago-based radio station WMAQ, “When I flew from Chicago to Miami, I didn’t have any trouble with that.” She even added that the flight crew on the Miami flight had actually given her a special strap to hold the large instrument.
But all that changed when she boarded her flight from Miami back to Chicago. Right before takeoff, an American Airlines flight attendant told Hu that her instrument was too big and that the aircraft, a 737, was too small to hold the cello.
According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Federal regulations allow musicians to carry instruments like cellos in the cabin if passengers purchase an additional seat.
American Airlines policy states that if passengers buy another seat for their instrument, then that seat’s baggage must not weigh more than 165 lbs and must meet seat size restrictions for that specific plane type. NBC5 Chicago reports that Hu’s instrument weighs less than 10 lbs.
In a statement to Business Insider, an American Airlines spokesperson 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.”
Hu’s husband, Jay Tang, wrote that after being escorted off the plane, Hu was surrounded by three police officers while trying to find a new flight that could accommodate her. He said American Airlines offered her the chance to purchase either first class or business class tickets out of pocket. Eventually, after staying overnight at a Holiday Inn, Hu arrived back home in Chicago, Cello in tow, where she had a tearful greeting with her husband.
“I don’t think we did anything wrong there,” Tang, told NBC5 Chicago. “And I think the way they handled it was humiliating.”
Tang posted on Twitter a photo Hu had taken 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