‘British Airways breaks violins’

‘British Airways breaks violins’


norman lebrecht

August 09, 2014

Posted by Colorado violinist Sara Avery:
#BritishAirways breaks violins! We had hoped they would do the right thing, but after British Airways agents in Beirut forced my friend to check her violin (to Denver, routed through Paris) and crushed it in the baggage hold, they are being completely unresponsive, saying it was her fault, and refusing to reimburse her, after telling her to get an appraisal for replacement value. Many people carried on bigger bags. There is no excuse for this, British Airways! You have destroyed the means by which she makes her living!

smashed violin BA

UPDATE: A representative from #BritishAirways did call my friend yesterday to get the claims process rolling. (A representative at the Denver airport the night of her arrival did start that process, but the representatives she talked to the next couple of days made it sound like they wouldn’t do anything for her.) So, it’s moving in the right direction. I’ll keep updating this post as things develop. Thanks for all the shares! Even if they do the right thing, this airline must change its policy to let small instruments on board!



  • Sergei says:

    Sue the line. When they should star to pay thousands for their actions, they’ll begin to be more careful. Before, made a police denounce for damages.

  • Rosana Martins says:

    Of course British Airways has to be sued!
    I only find it strange that the violinist doesn’t want his/her name to be known. Why?

  • Sergei says:

    Rosana, it wasn’t her the victim but as she said, a friend, and it’s logical and fine discretion that she omits her friend name. She had no permission to do that.

  • Dr Peter Lim says:

    Having a violin broken is heart-breaking—it’s a part of the violinist’s life

  • Neil McGowan says:

    Regrettably BA have a long history of anti-musician policy. Our orchestra had to cancel a tour of Paris and London due to their policies. They never reimbursed us for the cancelled tickets.

  • RIchard Savage says:

    I suspect there may be some inaccuracies in this story – BA don’t fly to either Denver or Beirut from Paris, only from London. If Paris was included, this would mean that more than 1 carrier was involved making it harder to apportion blame. In what sort of case was the violin being carried? We find BA to be one of the most cooperative airlines for musicians and usually tolerant of small cabin instruments, the more so if they have been booked correctly. In many airports however they, like all airlines, subcontract many of their services, and this is often where problems can arise.

  • Sergei says:

    The line is responsible for damages done by one of her subcontracts. It’s a case of “culpa in eligendo”

    • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

      The subcontracting business is better called organized irresponsibility. It has been widely practiced under Communism, but currently thrives in present day kleptocratic capitalism in a scope that dwarfs the communist misdeeds.

  • Edgar Brenninkmeyer says:

    The only way to get airlines’ attention is a short, very clear and succictly written letter from an attorney, preferably from a well reputed (and feared by ailines) law firm. Very worth the expense.

  • Anon says:

    If this is via Paris then it would have been Republic Airlines (on behalf of American) or American Airlines flying the route. (BA does fly LHR – Denver, but not Orly – Denver).

    I’ve always found BA to be one of the more friendly airlines when it comes to cabin baggage of unusual dimensions, and I know others have too, so I’m surprised to read this. I hope the outcome is a favourable one, inasmuch as it can be.

  • Richard Savage says:

    Not the answer you want I’m sure, but I doubt an attorney would take this on. BA, like most airlines, is limited in its liability for loss and damage to luggage by its terms and conditions. In BA’s case the amount is around €1,230 per item. If a higher liability limit is requested, this has to be negotiated at check-in. You will get further by negotiating and asking for their discretional help than by threatening them.
    BA are musician friendly; we are conducting an experiment with them at Heathrow right now to see how to best load two double-basses into a A319 as there have been such problems with this plane in the past.

  • ronald de jongh-violinmaker says:

    Something must be said on the quality of the violincase too: from what I see on the foto, it is a foam frame with no wooden or plastic shell. These kind of cheap leightweigth cases give no protection at all against some external force. Players are kindly advised to invest in a good protective case for their instrument. I previously wrote this to the people involved in this incident.

    ronald de Jongh-Violinmaker in Amsterdam

  • Matthew says:

    British Airways are absolutely NOT musician friendly. That is simply disinformation by Mr Savage.