British Airways offers apology to Kronos Quartet

British Airways offers apology to Kronos Quartet


norman lebrecht

February 27, 2018

A statement from the airline about the incident that prompted Kronos to call a boycott:

We understand how precious musical instruments are to musicians, and that’s why we allow ​customers travelling with violins or violas to take their instruments on board with them.

We’ve apologised to our customers for the initial misunderstanding and are glad that they were able to travel as planned with their instruments in the cabin. 


  • Sue says:

    Too late!!

  • Nik says:

    Is it true that “they were able to travel as planned with their instruments in the cabin”? I.e., was the issue resolved? The original post doesn’t say so.

  • EricB says:

    It’s not apologies that we need, but the firing of the responsible staff. Enough is enough !!! If BA has issued clear statements to its staff how to handle such situations, then the staff should stick to it, or get fired. If they have not, then the staff will have to prove that in the courts.

    • Anon says:

      Always these Wild-West-shooting-from-the-hip primitivism. Primitive Americans. Trump even made a TV show about it. “Fire them…”
      How about simply educating the workforce better? Or is that too socialist of an idea?

      • V.Lind says:

        Too costly. It would involve interviewing and vetting job candidates seriously, and training them properly. (They might do the same with baggage handlers, who should be instructed that loading or unloading a plane is not their opportunity to practise their tossing the caber skills).

        • steven holloway says:

          Very good. I would add also not hiring baggage handlers and security staff who have criminal records, the latter having already caused a scandal in the U.S. Handling baggage is also not an invitation to loot it, as I know from an inside track happens at Heathrow, disappearing in quantity just as goods delivered to docks used to before the advent of containers. The lack of staff training in many areas of business is simply preposterous, although staff training of people who are deaf to what is taught or too dim to understand it will be a continuing problem.

        • Bill says:

          To be fair, very few baggage handlers are emulating the caber toss. Hammer throw, or weight for distance, or weight for height, maybe the odd stone put or two if called upon to unload the overhead compartments.

    • BrianB says:

      EricB, I think you meant firing the irresponsible staff. Though this blog has documented so many on again, off again stances from BA it’s impossible to keep track. Customers and clients should never have to lie down quietly and meekly “take it” Anon.

    • Anon says:

      It’s an interesting reaction, and one shared by many musicians.

      Until you apply those same standards to musicians themselves, that is, when they change their tune quickly.

      (to those who are no longer able to play their instrument to the high standard of their colleagues, but just enough to more-or-less get by, damaging the audience experience. Much like crew in this story doing enough to get the flight serviced, but not enough to keep all the ticket-buyers fully satisfied. And then every other musician is out in force to ask for re-training, re-auditions, or better still nothing at all to happen, certainly not job losses. Double standards, perhaps?)

  • Bruce says:

    From the original SD report (

    “BA’s first response: ‘Hi, I’m sorry you weren’t able to to take your violins/violas in the cabin on this occasion…’ “

  • Father Hennepin says:

    How often is retraining successful? Job loss may be the ultimate threat, but it generally works as a scare tactic, and no punishment is seen, how will employees get the message? Workers who can’t get fired are usually the ones who make the most problems for people. Characterizing all Americans as western-style cowboy types is pretty much bigoted and totally ignorant. Just because we are the biggest and the best…

    • Sharon says:

      A lot of time the actual job requirement is not the stated job requirement. For ex, there may be the procedural way to handle baggage according to the policy and procedures manual and then there is the way that it must be handled if you need to handle x amount of pieces an hour, which may not be a written policy but everyone knows is an important job requirement.
      As a nurse, the official way to prepare medications in my facility will prevent virtually all medication errors. Yet I know that unofficially I must finish preparing and giving my medications by a certain time. Can I, or any other nurse, prepare and administer medications “by the book” in the allotted time? No. Since we must (unofficially) complete medications by the allotted time do medication errors occasionally occur? Yes.
      I strongly suspect that baggage handlers, security staff, stewardesses, etc. face similar conflicts. When one cannot “cut corners”, it is easier just not to carry the instrument than to take the time which one does not have to secure the instrument properly (and probably do the required paperwork that would have to accompany it).
      I would imagine similar corner cutting takes place among musicians and music teachers as well.

      • Sharon says:

        One job action that unions sometimes do, especially in New York State where public employees are not allowed to strike is the “by the book” work slow down. In many bureaucracies following policies and procedures would paralyze the work of the agency or workplace.
        In the baggage example, if one MUST go “by the book” in handling a time consuming situation, like handling a valuable instrument, it is just easier, and given time constraints, maybe necessary, to refuse to do it

    • V.Lind says:

      Biggest what? Not country. Both Canada and Russia are bigger.

      Best? In your own,oh-so-consistently-expressed,opinion. Best crime rate, if having the most of it and the most people per capita in jail is what defines it. Best educated? Hah. Most compassionate? Oh, please. Worst healthcare in the developed world — actually, it is probably among the best, but not available to all.

      American exceptionalism is a tiresome concept dear to Americans, whose ignorance of the wider world is indeed exceptional, and need not be recited here. Stick to the argument at hand — if you can.

  • Chris Clift says:

    No mention of financial compensation for them needing to have booked different tickets (for example) or for lost revenue for having missed an engagement