Air Canada has this week refused a cello from being brought into the cabin, of a flight from Montreal – claiming the airline was not told in advance that the paid seat was for an instrument and not a passenger.
Andrea Stewart, a PhD student from McGill University, was flying from Montreal to Napa Valley on Monday, when informed upon luggage check-in of the apparent policy.
Ms. Stewart had purchased two full-fare seats on the 5 hour flight – even electing to pay an additional surcharge to pre-select adjacent chairs.
“The issue was not the space available on the flight, but that the travel agency that booked the flight failed to inform the airline that the extra ticket was for a cello,” an Air Canada spokesperson has told Canada's CBC News, “ … the airline needs that information in advance to ensure the necessary retraints are brought on board to safely tie it down.”
The 5 hour journey took more than 22 hours to complete.
Ms. Stewart has said the only compensation offered by the airline was a complimentary sandwich.
The incident came just months after Air Canada published a transportation policy forbidding violas from being brought onboard - and after an incident last year at Toronto airport where violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman was abandoned by an Air Canada disability assistant.
The Violin Channel's October 2nd, 2014 coverage of Air Canada's inconsistent viola policy received over 4000 social media shares, 200,000 page views and 27,000 facebook likes – leading to the airline promptly readdressing the stance.