Why won’t airlines treat us like babies?

Why won’t airlines treat us like babies?


norman lebrecht

January 07, 2018

Alitalia has responded predictably to the destruction of a 17th century viola da gamba by trashing the passenger in the country’s most influential newspaper. No explanation has been given to the distressed passenger herself. That’s about all we need to know about the airline’s policy of customer care.

One of our readers has pointed out that people who board aircraft with babies and small children hand over their trolleys and strollers at the door of the plane, safe in the knowledge that these will be returned to them at the door when they disembark.

Why can’t the same concession be extended to men and women who travel with a precious musical instrument?

Which airline will be the first to do so?


  • Arthur Bancroft says:

    I think it is disgusting the way airlines treat very valuable instruments
    They seem to me to be inhuman & take a delight in trashing a instrument.
    I myself do not & I repeat do not travel anymore by air because I had a similar incident which happened to me several years ago.

  • Anon says:

    When will the wider public learn, that airlines do not handle the luggage, but ground staff of handling agencies at airports do. In this case apparently the baggage handlers at Tel Aviv. All airlines use the same ground handlers.

    And also anyone who does not book a seat for his cello but checks it in is asking for damage. It’s different if one has booked a seat and then the airline still causes trouble, but not buying a seat is simply reckless and asking for damage.

    • Nik says:

      “When will the wider public learn…” Well, this is actually irrelevant because when you buy a flight ticket you have a contract with the airline, not with the ground handling company, and the airline has a duty towards is passengers to make sure that luggage is handled appropriately. As a passenger you have no recourse against the handling company as their contract is with the airline, not with you.

      • Markus says:

        Yes Nik but you don’t need to defame and shitstorm the air carrier.
        Do you think alitalia can control external employees of handling companies in rio-rome-tel aviv?
        If you are going to send me a package with DHL do you think it is correct that I should shitstorm you on facebook if I get it broken?

        • EricB says:

          Well, YES, because, ultimately, the only RESPONSIBLE person (or company, in this case) is the career (Alitalia) or the transporter (DHL), with whom you’ve signed a contract. THEY are responsible for the loss, and then THEY (not you) should question the reliability of the persons/company they hired to do that part of the job.
          It’s far too easy to respond : “oh well, it’s the “ground careers” that did it”, and wash your hands away from responsibility.

          • AnnaT says:

            yes–if I order something from your your company and it arrives in pieces, your company is responsible. If you’ve subcontracted with DHL, it’s your responsibility to deal with reparations from them, not mine, and your company’s task to make things right with me as the purchaser.

  • Bruce says:

    Speaking of instruments vs. babies: I have a friend who owns a very old and valuable cello. He says of his cello: “I mean, it’s not like it’s a person… after all, you can replace a person.”

    (I don’t know what he does when he travels by air. We’ve talked about airline-related instrument damage before, though, so I would guess he buys a seat for it.)

  • EricB says:

    “Why can’t the same concession be extended to men and women who travel with a precious musical instrument?
    Just because they consider that musicians make TONS OF MONEY, and can pay to book an extra seat… which they can’t expect from parents who’ll never pay an extra seat for a kid’s stroller.
    They now consider as a normal thing what should have been considered racket from the start. And since international musicians have little choice but fly anyway, the companies figure they’ll pay ANYWAY.

  • Mathieu says:

    FWIW my baby’s stroller was once destroyed by an airline…

    Now I’d rather have my stroller destroyed than a stradivarius, obviously!

  • Simon Scott says:

    Something must be bloody well done about this shameful state of affairs.
    Not now,RIGHT NOW

    • EricB says:

      Well, what do you suggest ? A sit-in in the commercial offices of all airline companies quoted by Slipped Disc ?
      Nothing will happen until judges and courts grant ENORMOUS compensation fees for destroyed instruments (and subsequent prejudice on the musician’s career). And since that’s not going to happen….

      • Simon Scott says:

        What do I suggest? Easy. Musicians should boycott air travel until all this is well sorted out.
        Next question?

        • EricB says:

          And how do you suggest travelling from Paris to NY or to Moscow or Kuala Lumpur or Beijing, or Tokyo, if not by air ? By boat ? Well, they’d have plenty of time to rehearse… 😉

        • EricB says:

          Maybe this is a situation where musicians and orchestras unions CAN perhaps start negociations with major airline companies, and issue boycott threats with those who do not comply with respectful attitudes and rules.

  • Simon Scott says:

    As Fritz Kreisler would say ” if they really want to hear,then they can wait”

  • Benjamin Ordaz says:

    I am a tuba player…I have made investments into custom-fitted flight cases that cost me a pretty penny in oversize/weight fees anytime i need to fly to an audition.
    Even then, i often reach out to people in the area to which i will travel and ask the question: “Do you have a tuba i can borrow when i get there?”

  • Markus says:

    Dear Norman,

    Don’t lie that she has not been thrashed in the biggest italian newspaper since Alitalia gave a direct answer to Ms Herzog on Fb and Twitter a few hours after what happened.
    This simply means she had to buy an extra ticket in advance as any musician does.
    Second she had the chance to buy a ticket and refused to do so to save probably some money (on a 200k worth violin LOL) and even subscribed a limited release liability form after insisting to board it.
    If you gamble and lose you just can’t complain later, moreover the plastic case of the dagamba was really of poor quality.
    Finally and lastly if would really like to know why an appreciated musician like Ms Herzog has to blatanlty lie that the airplane was “superbooked” even if it was not so.