Written by Laurie Niles
Published: September 28, 2015 at 4:10 PM [UTC]
"Well it was bound to be my turn eventually," Rachel posted on Facebook and Twitter late last night. "@USAirways wouldn't fit the del Gesú overheard so I had to exit the flight ... without suitcases."
Pine had been in Phoenix for a Cremona violin exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum, and before that in Flagstaff, Ariz. to play the Brahms Concerto with the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra and to do some educational outreach. We're still trying to confirm if the incident occurred at the Phoenix airport.
"Hang-ups at check-in and security resulted in our boarding after many others had already filled bins," Rachel posted late Sunday. "The bins were not stuffed, and many people had their handbags overhead instead of under their seats. There would have been plenty of room with a little rearranging, but they refused to do so, despite the fact that we assured them we had done it many times, and despite the fact that all three of us (including the 4-year-old) are Executive Platinum fliers (100,000 miles). The biggest annoyance is that they wouldn't unload our checked luggage so we could have what we need for resting at a hotel."
Instead, Rachel's family slept on the floor, waiting for the next flight, which was this morning, some 6 hours after the original flight, which was to be at 11:59 Sunday night. She posted this picture:
The good news is that they did get on the plane following morning: "Happy to report my violin and family and I are comfortably boarded and will land in Chicago in 3 hours," she posted early Monday. "Thanks for your support everyone!"
Even with rules passed earlier this year by the U.S. Transportation Department that officially require airlines to allow small instruments on plane, these incidents are still occurring. Part of the problem is the allocation of space; though the airline can't ask you to remove your instrument once it's been stowed, they also are not officially obliged to accommodate the instrument if you board later than others and there is no room left. Though they can't charge passengers an extra fee for carrying an instrument onboard, they can and do charge extra fees for boarding early. Just last week, Air Canada announced a 50% discount for any customers who wish to purchase a seat to accommodate a musical instrument.. That seems like a step in the right direction, but it looks like we have many steps to go.
UPDATE: Just heard from Rachel. Yes, she was at the Phoenix airport. Also, it sounds like she simply stay up all night: "...my husband and I could not both sleep at the airport because someone had to keep an eye on the violin and other carry-ons. Knowing he'd have a full day at the office with his 20 employees upon our return, I decided to let him rest while I caught up on paperwork and correspondence for my foundation."
"I was in Phoenix to film my performance and interview as the face of the Musical Instrument Museum's Cremona violin exhibit. It will open on January 15." (Hey that sounds like a cool exhibit!)
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She couldn't help herself though. Had to quote K2.
I wish I were faced with the risk of lugging a genuine Guarneri instead of my serendipitously wonderful-sounding Chinese copy thereof (by that I mean that it turned out to be far better than I had any right to expect given its low-four-figure price). However, even for this copy I'd be happy to pay for an extra seat at a 50% discount or any other such reasonable option.
I'm surprised that the insurance company they underwrites Ms. Barton-Pine's policy for her Guarneri does not require some stricter extra protection along those lines.
Recently on my last few flights, I've grabbed 2 blankets from the overhead bin, wrap the violin in one, fitting most, sometimes all of it under the seat in front of me, and then use the other blanket to stay warm on those frigid flights from Florida, with my violin concealed from the flight attendant ;).
I haven't had a problem yet, and am definitely not apt to ask permission when I'm boarding with group 4 or 5.
Although US Airways' official policy is that they will not move other passengers' carry-on items to accommodate musical instruments, it seems like with a little common sense and cooperation this whole situation could have been averted. Adding US Airways to my list of carriers to avoid...
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