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It gets worse: Air Canada loses a cello

Matt Haimovitz has just posted:

Horrified to learn that my student’s cello has been lost by Air Canada for the last two days. She was on the way to Banff. I have had so many bad experiences with Air Canada, including one just last week. But nothing compares to having an instrument lost. That is inexcusable. Why can you not reach an actual human being at customer service? If any of my friends or friend’s friends has any pull at Air Canada, please let us know. In the meantime, cellists beware of this airline!

matt haim

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  1. Clyde McConnell says:

    Hmmm….Just a few days ago I saw an advertisement in the Calgary Herald placed by Air Canada, claiming that they had been “voted” the number one airline in North America for the xth year in a row.

  2. Ghillie Forrest says:

    Maybe compared to the other guys…

  3. Air Canada should get lost. Ann

  4. Jocelyne Marchand says:

    Go right to the top :

    CALIN ROVINESCU, President and Chief Executive Officer …. Address: P.O. Box 14,000. Station Airport Dorval, QC H4Y 1H4 Canada.

  5. During an Air Canada crisis I had a few years ago, I was told that the place to phone to speak to a human with the power to do things is their office in Moncton NB. Don’t know if this is true, but you might try it…

  6. Julie Craven says:

    Having traveled all over the world on many different airlines, I can confirm that Air Canada is really dysfunctional. I am quite sure that the people who run Air Canada have never actually traveled on it.

  7. What a bunch of bull “best airline”? where Mongolia?

  8. I don’t wish to try and defend the widespread lack of care shown by airlines in respect of musicians and their instruments but I suspect the inability to contact AC is more to do with the ongoing State of Emergency in Calgary and resulting call volumes from folk trying to re-arrange their travel plans.

    I hope this is the case and that the cello is safely sitting somewhere in their ‘system’ waiting to be attended to!

    • Good point – especially since, if she was on the way to Banff, she was likely flying into Calgary.

    • I am afraid I disagree – I had tried in the past to communicate with them numerous times, and not once I got to talk to a person who knew what (s)he was doing. Never.

  9. It’s not just air Canada… Westjet destroyed my cello in transit and I had to sue for compensation. There need to be major regulation changes.

  10. It happens more frequently then i would like too admit.. Happened to me .. My bass was lost after the first performance in paris, after that it was in ( five ) different countries , except where and when i was performing .. It returned to me the last day of the tour.. Stickers from around the world ,, Im still kind of laughing it off, but it happens allot .. Delta Airlines .. Never again ..

  11. Federico says:

    On my recent trip to phoenix, I flew US Airways and they were going to make me gate check my viola. I was extremely rude about it to these gate agents who were acting as if I was over reacting. I suppose my advice is to be extremely rude about having to check your instruments. I got to put it in the overhead bin and thankfully my viola was in one piece. And what I find ridiculous is that you can’t have anything in your lap. I was prepared to hold my viola in my lap as a child and they told me they couldn’t allow me to do that. Who’s that going to affect. I swear, this is just ridiculous what musicians go through to travel.

    • Actually, holding anything on your laps may not be entirely safe. Take-off and landing are the most critical moments of flight and I do agree that they have reason to ask you not to place anything on your legs – in the unlikely situation of an emergency, it CAN and it HAS hurt the passenger – and others as well!

      • Rosalind says:

        YG, but the airlines allow parents to hold small babies/children on their laps at take-off and my guess is an infant launched into the air in an emergency would cause more damage and mess than a viola. If one can use these extender seat belts on the infant, it should be possible on a viola, of course, only if absolutely necessary due to the overhead locker palaver.

        • Rosalind I completely agree. My daughter will go from London to Donegal for a fiddle course in the summer. To do this she will go British Airways Ldn to Glasgow and then Flybe who are the only airline for Donegal. BA will let her take her violin as hand luggage, but Flybe won’t. So she offered to buy an extra seat for that leg, but Flybe won’t allow that for a violin either. However they will allow you to buy an extra seat for a CELLO! Great idea we’ll stick the violin in a cello case….trying to be helpful the girl at Flybe said this would possibly work unless some smart person on the gate decided to look in the case and spot the cunning plan! They reckoned they can strap a cello in safely but not a violin. Hmm then we realised if she takes a cello case she’ll have to pay for an extra seat on the BA flight, which was starting to look rather expensive. She is 24 and although driven without accident for years is not able to hire a car in Ireland till 25. It’s like a conspiracy against musicians. Ryanair used to let us buy a seat for a cello but now say safety checks have revealed that in an emergency it might impede the fall of the oxygen mask…I pointed out then that even a Strad doesn’t need oxygen! So how to get girl and violin to Donegal? Solutions on a postcard please…..

          • Loved your comment, and it got me to thinking- maybe put Stephen Harper in the cello case next time
            when flying with Air Canada?

      • bratschegirl says:

        I’ve told this story elsewhere within Slipped Disc, but briefly, a colleague of mine returning from a festival (intra-US flight on US Airways) was forced by airline personnel to wrap viola in a blanket and hold it on her lap for the duration of the flight, having checked the case with bows in it. The bows, apparently, were what freaked out the cabin attendants. My days of flying with infants are over, but I believe it’s still possible to travel with a child under 2 years on your lap the entire trip, not having a seat for the child at all.

        Federico, you were extremely lucky. Being rude and making a fuss might just as easily have gotten you booted from the flight altogether. The problem is with airline rules which give gate and cabin personnel leeway to ignore said rules altogether without any good reason.

  12. I’m glad I play the ukulele – never a problem carrying that on the plane. (Unless they have previously heard me play, that is.)

  13. Dan Totan says:

    Ha, when I was his student Delta lost my cello for two days… Also America Airlines cracked my cello and cello case last year and the same thing happened to my cello this year. So “Good Job” big airlines!?!?!?!

  14. Reggie Benstein says:

    After flying all the major US airlines (most were chaotic and impersonal) and both of Canada’s national airlines , I can sincerely say I’ve never had a problem with Air Canada and much prefer it in comparison to others.
    I suspect that once a person has one or two disagreeable experiences, they are apt to view the entire company with distain.

    Travelling is becoming ever more stressful, uncomfortable and a bore, all round. While this doesn’t excuse the rough treatment of instruments, no airline seems exempt and I take advice like “avoid such-and-such airline” with a major grain of salt.

  15. The cello was dumped in a lost or delayed baggage area in Toronto airport “for anyone to take,” in the words of Matt Haimovitz. The student found it herself in hunting around the airport, having gotten no satisfaction whatsoever from the airline. Naturally, the cello is also damaged.

    The best solution is to have a cello on every continent you perform on (that’s my own solution, anyway), travel by train with it, and don’t fly with a cello except within Europe, sparingly.

  16. Dean Wiliams says:

    Last summer, I flew from Cincinnati to Burlington, and my friend flew from Cincinnati to Montreal. We ended up on the same flight from Cincinnati to Chicago, from where we parted ways, her on Air Canada, me on United Airlines. Both of us had our bassoons with us in the cabin. Nobody asked questions or batted an eyelash, we just walked in and into the overhead bins they went. It’s too bad for cellists, but it would appear that size does matter.

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