Summer woes: The cello and the airline pilot

Summer woes: The cello and the airline pilot


norman lebrecht

August 08, 2018

Various readers have asked why we have not reported the tale of the American Airlines pilot who threw a cello student and her instrument off his flight.

Simple, really.

When an airline changes its rules to prejudice musicians, or when rules are misapplied, we will always follow the story.

This incident appears to have been a one-off summer flareup between an pilot and a passenger. Just because it went virak on social media doesn’t make it an issue of principle.

AA calls is a ‘miscommunication’. If there are further ramifications, we’ll let you know.



  • Robert Roy says:

    Who would be a ‘cellist?!

  • SWYANESS says:

    I’ll bet if it had been United you would have lambasted them.

  • steven holloway says:

    This post has its humorous side, most of all in the suggestion that SD only posts about issues if they are a matter of principle. Not a few readers have objected to posts or the headers thereof as a matter of principle, yes.

  • Ben says:

    I am sure this wouldn’t be just an “miscommunication” that is not worth reporting if she’s an Aryan. 🙂

  • Mark says:

    Well all USA air travel is madness . Rather like the whole republic which is becoming Trumpistan looking at the US republic in the rear view mirror! Last chance to do something about it in november

    • BillG says:

      Trying to somehow blame this on Trump is revisionism at its worst. Any right thinking person knows all the worlds problems stem from Margret Thatcher. Trying to rewrite history just doesn’t work bubba.

      • Mark says:

        Trump has brought out the craziness subdued in many! They feel liberated to be rude impolite and downright arrogant ! Margaret was never that, neither was Reagan! A psycho in the Whito, the fact that 30% of Americans believe the President should be able to shit down media organisations shows the state the republic is in ! Trumpistan … looking at USA in rear view mirror

  • B.K. says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, you provide a link to the news article (good) but it says nothing about a “summer flareup” between passenger and pilot. The article makes no mention of the pilot, except for a photo of him which, according to the caption appears to show him making visibly inappropriate gestures as the passenger is being escorted off the place. And the cellist makes quite a compelling case for herself.

    So why the anti-music position here?

  • BillG says:

    It is rather interesting that almost all these events begin with a “miscommunication” between an airline employee and a traveling musician.

    Following the story more deeply, after the musician was removed from one flight AA was less than honorable in dealings with her.

  • Michael says:

    I find it very strange that the pilot is wearing glasses. I haver never seen a pilot in an airport, or inside of an airplane with glasses on. They are supposed to have excellent vision, and don’t need glasses. Something smells fishy here…

    • Bill says:

      While you may not have encountered a pilot wearing glasses before, it is allowed provided certain standards are met.

      • BillG says:

        Indeed so, the FAA sets minimum standards for which waivers van be issued. Airlines may set stricter standards, if memory serves.

  • Scotty says:

    On a more positive note, yesterday I flew Chicago-to-Germany on Turkish Airlines, which has a no-problems-policy of allowing instruments up to the size of a guitar on board. For me that meant carrying on my largest guitar in my largest flight case and even having me board early to be sure that overhead-bin space would be available. It’s also a great airline in all other aspects. What a contrast with my flight on Eurowings from Germany to New York, which was miserable.

  • Dean Williams says:

    Every airline seems to have good days and bad days when it comes to musicians travelling on their flights. I have flown with United and Air Canada, and neither of their employees even blinked when I brought my bassoon on their aircraft. But I have heard of many horror stories from musicians on United flights.

    • Scotty says:

      Indeed, good and bad days. But for some, such as United, bad is expected and good is a pleasant surprise. With Turkish, good is expected, at least that’s my experience and what I’ve been told by colleagues.