Once in the plane, he was told, to his great distress, that he had to send his cello in the luggage compartment. He's been bumped after boarding. This is his story, written as it unfolded.
Check the cello in baggage or get off the plane. That’s my choice.
“Sweet,” I say. “If I get off, how will you get me there?"
“Please understand, sir, the cello will not be allowed on any other WestJet aircraft.”
“Will you put me on another airline?”
“That will be your own responsibility.”
In the aftermath, an exchange happened between him and a Westjet customer agent.
One lesson perhaps to be learned from this is always to check your airline booking for codeshare and interline flights; these are becoming more and more common, and not all airlines’ policies, allowances, etc., are the same. As Mr Katz learned to his distress, what is allowable on one airline may not be on another. It’s best never to make assumptions, especially when there are any special circumstances such as a disability, special diet – or a musical instrument – are involved.
This response, implying I am the problem, infuriates me! In the bewildering world of online purchases and codeshares, does the airline itself have NO responsibility? Why was I able to buy a ticket for a cello on WestJet if you don’t allow them on board? Why should you not program your computers to reject cello tickets? Airlines have programmed their computers to close Frequent Flyer accounts opened in the name of a cello, and yet you allow us to pay for a seat , arrive at the gate, board the plane, an then, after throwing us off, lecture us that we didn’t do proper homework!
From the whole story, I get the feeling the company does not take any responsibility at all.
This brought to the forefront an online petition: Fair treatment for musicians traveling on planes with their instruments
Please, fellow A.netters, take the time to sign this so that my colleagues and me could travel more easily. I also find highly unpleasant to have to give an instrument to send it to the luggage compartment, even though my cello is worth a hundred times (at least) less than Paul Katz', I do feel the same way whenever it happens. Plus, it missed a connection once (in CDG...).