Air Canada regrets, and Itzhak Perlman’s charity flies high

Air Canada regrets, and Itzhak Perlman’s charity flies high


norman lebrecht

April 07, 2014

The airline has formally apologised for one of its staff abandoning the wheelchair-bound violinist at Toronto’s Pearson airport last week. It has donated half a million air miles to the Chai cancer charity that Perlman was flying in to support.

That’s decent. That’s noble. Incident closed.



  • How many other passengers — not famous — has this happened to?

    If anyone ever starts an airline that treats its passengers with respect, rather than as a commodity or a necessary evil, it will make a lot of money.

  • James Brinton says:

    Incident closed–until the next time.

    Perlman’s far from the only musician to have trouble with Air Canada, although usually it’s about one’s instrument rather than one’s person.

    The airlines desperately need to be re-regulated.

  • Gaffer says:

    I have always found Air Canada to be a class act, although I am sure it stumbles from time to time as we all do. Their mea culpa is a nice gesture.

  • I’m hoping it was an isolated incident with one particular dunce of an employee. It’s most dispiriting for passengers who made need 10% more of an accommodation than the average traveler. I felt like the employee made Perlman responsible for his physical limitations, which is completely unacceptable. Had this not happened to Perlman I wonder if we’d heard of it at all. But between this, the difficulty of traveling with instruments, and the new ivory ban (into/out of US) our classical musicians have to be feeling singled out these days. My dad was right, should’ve played the flute instead of the cello.

    • “Had this not happened to Perlman I wonder if we’d heard of it at all.”

      Here’s a hint: When something similar happened to me (on another airline)….you didn’t hear about it.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    I do not expect much improvement: the trend goes toward passengers as “self loading cargo”. Add tho this that any and all ancillary services are outsourced to contractors, and the overall picture becomes clear. Organized irresponsibility. This term was coined by the East German dissident and philosopher Rudolf Bahro (1935-1997) to describe the Communist system in his book “Die Alternative” in 1977 (the Party bosses arrested him and threw him out, West Germany, forthwith). If Bahro were alive today, he would say our capitalist system has perfected the art of organized irresponsibility – of course, based on a different economic philosophy, and with different means, but in its ultimate effect utterly similar to the communist system: the dignity of the human being, indeed the human being him/herself, deemed worth nothing. There is, sadly, not much else to say to traveling performers who need to get from one place to the next with their instrument(s): you are on your own as you enter Canada, the USA, Germany, the UK, or any other country, at your own risk.