Eight violins ‘lost’ on US Airways

Eight violins ‘lost’ on US Airways


norman lebrecht

August 22, 2015

This just in from Ken Kulosa, teacher of cello at Washington University, St Louis:

ken kulosa

US Airways has lost my violins!

I am making an appeal for help from employees, managers, and/or executives from US Airways to help us get action in the process, which has been full of roadblocks, passing the buck, and “we can’t make the call”. It appears as though US Airways simply doesn’t care, or doesn’t want to try.
We last saw our 8-violin shipping trunk as we passed it off to oversize baggage in Barcelona on Wednesday the 19th. As far as the airline can tell us, no trace since, as it was never scanned into the system. After hundreds of calls: to the airline, as well as our own exhaustive investigations, we have gotten basically nowhere…..we very much fear theft, certainly at the very least, massive negligence.
All we ask for is a physical inspection of the facility, but they refuse to even make a call to Barcelona, just emails that go without a response.
Over the years, the one thing I’ve learned about airlines is when they say they can’t do something, it just means they don’t want to bother. This is devastating….please PM me if anyone can help, or can put me in touch someone that can, or simply more details.

My many thanks to all!


  • Emily says:

    Yet another reason airlines should get their act together in handling instruments. If I ever travel with cello I’m buying an extra seat or something…

  • Linda says:

    You might want to contact your Attorney General and/or Senator about this poor treatment and lack of response. There may be some traction by contacting these folks as well: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/CP_AirlineService.htm

  • John Warburton says:

    A little while ago, from inside my checked-in suitcase at Barcelona Airport, a box containing some tapes was opened, and the tapes stolen before the box was replaced. So, on arrival at Gatwick Airport, the box was still in its rightful place, but empty. Luckily, the tapes were only backups so the recordings weren’t lost.

    The police at Gatwick told me exactly this: “We can reach the police in Spain by fax. But I’ve got to warn you, we think the fax machine at Barcelona Airport police is situated directly above the paper shredder.”

  • V.Lind says:

    Get the diplomats covered in this. It’s a not insignificant loss, and even the US has people on the ground in Spain, and almost certainly in Barcelona. Nothing like a live body turning up at the airport to get people moving, or at least explaining.

    Give them a thorough review of the facts, the efforts to get information/assistance) copies of emails, summaries of phone calls, etc. — log the lot). They will need to know you have tried, and what you have tried, to have much heft themselves. When they can cite unanswered emails chapter and verse, or any promise not followed up, they can get aggressive (within the meaning of the diplomatic protocols).

    I know from experience that they can untie some tricky knots.

  • The View from America says:

    Some points that occurred to me but were not in the original post or in the comments above:

    1. US Airways is now part of American Airlines. American is phasing out the US Airways brand. If Ken et. al. are dealing only with US Airways, it might be a dead end for that reason alone; i.e. the employees he’s dealing with are either laid off or will be laid off soon. The matter should be escalated to American Airlines Group.

    2. Ken’s article doesn’t mention a claim check. Does he have one? If so, then it does not matter if the baggage was “never scanned into the system” – a claim check is proof positive that the airline received the article for carriage, and is responsible for delivering it undamaged at the destination (normal wear and tear excepted).

    3. It’s reasonable to assume that Ken et. al. might have paid excess baggage fees for an “8-violin shipping trunk … passed off to oversize baggage.” If so, both the receipt for the fee paid as well as the claim check are vital proof of the airline’s responsibility.

    4. Ken’s article also doesn’t mention anything about the contract of carriage. You can read the contract of carriage for US Airways here: http://www.usairways.com/EN-US/ABOUTUS/CUSTOMERSFIRST/CONTRACTOFCARRIAGE.HTML. This contract describes Ken’s rights and the obligations of US Airways (and American Airlines) in this situation. Depending on the value of the 8 violins, it might be worth engaging an attorney to confront US Airways (and American Airlines) about this. Lawyers usually get more attention than disgruntled customers.

    5. Were the violins insured? If so, what have Ken et. al. done to report the loss and seek compensation under their insurance policy?

  • Ting Wong says:

    I’m guessing that this is theft at the check in stage of the process. Sorry for your loss and pain.