Latest air outrage: ‘Qantas smashed my instrument’

An all-too-familiar tale from Perth musician Riley Pearce. Read here.

Riley, 24, will still go ahead with two London concerts at Camden Lock.


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  • No comments after 8 hours or more? Why — is it because it was “only” a guitar? Quite an expensive one, and the young man appeared to have done all the right things. I think he is as deserving of sympathy as people with violin and viola and cello issues (and MUCH more than the violinists perpetually losing their instruments on trains, etc.). Still, he may be better treated by Qantas than by many other airlines — I hope there is a follow-up.

    • While I generally agree with you, the perceived lack of sympathy may have something to do with the fact that, according to Mr. Pearce himself, he’s [only] played the instrument 10 times since acquiring it two years ago and that he chose not to take his instrument into the cabin by purchasing an extra seat but of his own volition, let it travel in the hold.

  • You really have to wonder what on earth airlines do to smash up an instrument in a strong case. Im sure it had a fragile sticker/tag on it. I hope Qantas do the right thing and quickly.

    • I’m going to guess that while the case may quite sturdy, it doesn’t sufficiently suspend the instrument inside to prevent the force of an impact from being relayed into it.

  • So what airline IS safe for instruments? Isn’t it just a matter of time before every airline has caused one of these horror stories? And don’t the baggage handlers work for companies separate from the airlines, anyway?

    Musician boycotts of specific airlines aren’t going to work as long as the planes are full of people regardless.

    • I would imagine few instruments are injured while airborne. But I have seen baggage handlers at airports. I daresay they are under great pressure to be “productive” — i.e. to get planes loaded or unloaded in ever-diminishing times. And by most accounts I have read, they are underpaid, under-trained, and unmotivated in the extreme to do their jobs with any sort of attentiveness. It’s being flung from the height of a cargo hold to a waiting doll y, or sliding along a rickety electric track that damages delicate things. Marking things “fragile” has no apparent influence on the handlers.

  • Airlines policy: Do not put valuables in your checked luggage.

    If his guitar is valuable to him, he shouldn’t have checked it in. He wouldn’t check in $2500 in cash, right? He could do like all other violinists, violists and cellists: carry-on and pay an extra ticket if necessary if the item is considered too large by the airline.

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