Photograph of broken violin is from the Facebook account of Sara Avery. Click here for the original photograph.

British Airways Breaks Violins?

I s British Airways responsible for a broken violin belonging to one of its passengers in the case of British Airways breaks violins?

“We had hoped they would do the right thing, but after British Airways agents in Beirut forced my friend to check her violin (to Denver, routed through Paris) and crushed it in the baggage hold, they are being completely unresponsive, saying it was her fault, and refusing to reimburse her, after telling her to get an appraisal for replacement value”, a person named Sara Avery posted August 7, 2014 on Facebook. “Many people carried on bigger bags. There is no excuse for this, British Airways! You have destroyed the means by which she makes her living!”

The latest reported update in this — er…case — as of August 18, 2014 is as follows:

  1. They forced my friend to check her violin. (Their policy doesn’t allow instruments over 56 cm/22 in in length on board. Her only choices were to check it, leave it behind despite needing it for practicing + getting routine maintenance in the US, or forfeit a $3,000 plane ticket and perhaps her last chance to visit her very elderly mother.)
  2. They smashed it to bits.
  3. They are paying her less than 1/4 of the appraised replacement value.

“Until #BritishAirways changes their policy, it is not safe for musicians to fly BA with their instruments.”

FlyerTalk member SherlockHerbert is skeptical at best — and other FlyerTalk members appear to be equally suspect of this story. “So much is fishy with this story: BA don’t fly through Paris for Beirut to Denver. Also their policies do make specific exceptions for musical instruments and guitars (as I have witnessed).”

This alleged case is not the first in a string of mishaps with musical instruments. One month ago, Air Canada reportedly lost two guitars and two pedalboards belonging to Canadian musician Kalle Mattson. The equipment was returned — but not before Mattson purchased a new guitar…

…and Dave Carroll — another musician based in Canada — wrote a song about how United Airlines mishandled and broke his Taylor guitar worth approximately $3,500.00 in 2008. That song — called United Breaks Guitars — became a huge success on the Internet; and he also followed up on that song by writing a book.

I am sure that the friend of Sara Avery was hoping that her music would one day wind up being a smash hit — but not in this manner, I would guess.

Is Sara Avery stringing her followers on Facebook along by sticking her neck out and telling this story, which hopefully will be instrumental in fully compensating the passenger in question if it is indeed true? Would this be a hollow victory for the musician after fiddling around with the airline — or will she bow down to resorting to whatever compensation she does receive? Should musicians fret about transporting their instruments aboard airplanes operated by British Airways?

Stay — er — tuned

Photograph of broken violin is from the Facebook account of Sara Avery. Click here to access the original photograph.

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