More cello chaos in the air

More cello chaos in the air


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2017

From Professor Ole Bohn of the Sydney Conservatorium:

On Sunday February 5 eight of my Australian students were supposed to fly with LATAM at 10:48 from Curitiba, Brazil to Rio de Janeiro. They had all attended the famous FEMUSC festival.

Once all the violinists had checked in with their instruments, the trouble started for cellist Vicki Zhang. The airline representative at the check-in counter refused to take the cello as luggage. The cello was in a special travel case and Vicki never had any problems to put it in the hold. At the check-in she was given various reasons why it was not allowed to send the instrument as luggage and that she had to buy a seat inside the plane for the cello!

While arguing that this had never happened to her on any flights, including LATAM flights , the whole group missed their flight. Finally, a representative from the airline understood the situation and managed to put them on a flight several hours later with the cello in the hold underneath. However, they came too late to Rio and missed a scheduled private concert in the afternoon.


See also: Air Canada refuse to fly Kremer’s cellos.


  • Meal says:

    I am sorry but in this case the airline cannot be blamed. It is clearly stated on their website (

    “Cello or tuba: You can travel with your cello or tuba in the cabin or in the hold. You must reserve an additional seat in order to bring them on board with you. In order to do so, contact our Contact Center ahead of time. As an alternative, you may transport them as checked baggage.”

    A cello is not a violin.

    • Scott Fields says:

      Reread the story. The cellist wanted to check her cello into the hold in a special flight case. She did not want to carry it on board.

      • Meal says:

        You are right! Shame on me. Seems that I was not able to read because I couldn’t imagine this to be true.

      • Bruce says:

        Although I wonder if “You must reserve an additional seat in order to bring them on board with you” means you must purchase an additional seat even if the instrument goes in the hold?

        That would be ridiculous but plausible, given some of the airline behavior we’ve been reading about, but it doesn’t explain why the check-in agent insisted the cello must go in the cabin.

        I love the cello, but this kind of nonsense makes me glad I play the flute.