Soloist sleeps on airport floor after US Airways refuses her violin

Soloist sleeps on airport floor after US Airways refuses her violin


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2015

Rachel Barton Pine, was trying to fly home from Phoenix, Arizona, when a flight attendant decided that her 1742 Guarneri del Gesú would not fit in the overhead bin.

The result was that Rachel and her family had to sleep the night in the airport, waiting for another plane.

Don’t we just love US Airways?


UPDATE: The full story in Rachel’s own words is here.


  • V.Lind says:

    There should be no “decided” about it. It either fit or it didn’t. Ground staff obstruction is bad enough, but a flight attendant is there, in front of the thing. It’s not a judgment call — it’s a matter of fact. I do not know what US Airways policy is when it does not fit. Is this the whole story?

    • V.Lind says:

      Apparently there is a policy (not a very customer-friendly one, in my view):

      [A spokesman for US Airways referred to the airline’s first-come, first-serve luggage policy, which states that “we will do what we can to accommodate your musical instrument but will not move other passengers’ belongings to accommodate a musical instrument.”]

      A few more details here:!/story/no-room-rare-violin-plane-rachel-barton-pine-sleeps-airport-lounge/

    • Jevgeniy says:

      Baloney. You are entitled to a carry-on, so you should get to carry it on. If they have overbooked the carry-on space, then a valuable violin should trump someone else’s rolly suitcase filled with underwear and magazines. Put THAT in checked baggage! Sheesh.

      • Marty says:

        That’s not accurate: you are allowed a carry on as long as it fits in the sizing box they have sitting right there when you present your boarding pass. And a personal item that should be able to be placed in the seat in front of you. As a frequent flier, I really despise the attitude of a lot of people who seem to think that their over-sized item is more important than anyone else’s. Too bad about the violin, but tough. When I travel with my bassoon I use a very compact, small case that easily fits the size requirement and it has never been a problem.

        • music montreal says:

          so your (“gentleman’s cut”) bassoon fits in the gate-sizing-apparatus. the violin case does not. but it *obviously* fits into the overhead bin. and our north american union has been discussing/lobbying so that no one should go through what rachel pine went through. are you saying us air was right?

        • bratschegirl says:

          First, there is no violin case that fits in the bag sizer. Period. The bow is too long, so it cannot be done. Second, one violin or viola case and two rollaboard bags laid sideways fit in exactly the same space as 3 rollaboards laid wheels out, so there is no question of taking up more than one’s allotted space OR denying anyone else theirs. Third, Federal law and FAA regulations now require that airlines allow violins and violas as carry-ons. Flight attendants no longer have the legal right to do what this person did. Finally, it is ludicrous to say that a priceless violin should be checked, where it will most likely be damaged beyond repair, rather than separating another passenger from their toothbrush and knickers.

          • V.Lind says:

            Then US Airways “policy” is not in accordance with FAA regulations. As I said originally, there should be no “decide” about it. A thing either firs or it does not, and given what you cite about the FAA, there should be no room for dispute. But this seems to be an ongoing dispute. Why?

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    Please remember that this was on American Airlines (no matter what it said on the side of the plane or the ticket). In a few months, the “USAirways” brand will totally disappear because of the merger which began a few years ago. I only mention it because this attitude is much larger than just a “USAirways” interpetation of Federal policy. American Airlines Group (including the ex-USAirways) is now the world’s largest airline, I believe.

    Also, if a person is a frequent flyer with elite status, they have the right to board before everyone else and stake out their luggage space no matter which ticket class they have purchased.

  • Tom Moore says:

    not to mention that the artist has a prosthetic leg….

  • James M says:

    Leave the historic piece in your studio at home, and travel with an instrument for which you can articulate a replacement cost. Or be good enough that your orchestra gets you a chartered flight.

  • James M says:

    As an amputee, she should have been first to board. I’m surprised that the article omits the detail of her disability.

    • William Safford says:

      To be fair, she did say: “…[W]e had a “perfect storm” of delays with returning the rental car, checking in, and going through security, so we ended up being one of the last to board which was very unusual for us.”

  • D says:

    Rachel Barton Pine with ANY violin should have been welcomed aboard — and,.. ANYONE traveling with the del Gesù ‘Soldat’ violin should have been given extreme courtesy. And Rachel Barton Pine with the del Gesù ‘Soldat’ should have had customers rushing to give up their space for her and the violin. At least on my planet, that’s what would have happened…