Air rage: KLM cancelled our cellos

Air rage: KLM cancelled our cellos


norman lebrecht

July 02, 2019

Message from Irene Enzlin, cellist of the Delta Piano Trio:

When travelling to the West Cork chamber music festival on Friday I arrived at Zurich airport to find that KLM had cancelled my ticket without telling me. It turns out what had happened is that after reserving on the phone, calling back to make sure the cello was accepted, they sent me a payment link that was just for me, not for the cello. When the system realised, they just cancelled the reservation.

Seeing as anyway you can’t check in online with a cello I turned up with an e ticket that didn’t exist any more. KLM refused to help me (and haven’t reimbursed me) and left me to book new last minute flights. I posted about this on Facebook and another cellist saw it and realised that the same had happened to her for a flight this morning.

It means it probably is a common problem and we’re trying to find more cellists to complain together. I ended up having to drive in the middle of the night to Lyon to catch a reasonably priced flight to Dublin and from there a connecting flight to Kerry to arrive just in time for the concert. I hope you can help us find more cellists.



  • Bill says:

    Time for a little paranoia, perhaps. They sent you the payment link, but presumably that showed a figure only about half of what you’d been quoted for the whole package. My rule of thumb is whenever doing something the least bit out of the ordinary, double-check everything so you can find out about the unpleasant surprises before they develop too much. Buying a ticket for an inanimate object of substantial value qualifies as out of the ordinary, as much as we might wish it otherwise.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Ordinary for the cellist, but out-of-the-ordinary for the airline. I think you are saying the cellist needs to understand that for the person selling the ticket the transaction is unusual.

      • Bill says:

        Yes, exactly. And may not be that ordinary for the cellist, depending on their circumstances. If you’ve spent most of your time taking the cello on the train, taking it on the plane will be a new experience, and perhaps not an entirely pleasant one.

  • Rupert. Paton says:

    Interesting and very frustrating- will do some serious research on this

  • Steve Jones says:

    Having experienced the total contempt in which KLM hold their customers, this doesn’t surprise me in the least; but it does confirm my decision to try to avoid KLM at all costs!

  • C Swift says:

    I’ve bought a ticket for my cello and then gotten on the plane and had cabin attendants refuse to let it occupy the seat. They insisted that it had to go in a closet. Better than putting it in checked luggage, but still…I had paid the full price for a seat.

    • Bill says:

      And what happened next? Did they want a passenger to sit in that seat? Was the seat for the cello a bulkhead aisle seat, so there was no chance someone would have to climb over it in an emergency? Did you get an explanation from anyone as to why your cello could not occupy it’s paid-for seat, or a refund?

  • The comments here suggest the traveller should be more proactive when booking and travelling but frankly that has to be almost unbelievable. Travelling with musical instruments is not in the least unusual – In my time have taken an enormous piece of computer equipment into Lyon from Manchester (for an exhibition) unannounced and taken through as hand baggage but in the hold – the airline and the Lyon customs coped as if it was entirely normal.