“We do apologize for the confusion and the customer’s inconvenience”

US Airways spokesman comments on yesterday’s incident at LAX

By Peter Alexander

Earlier today I spoke with Andrew Christie, a spokesman for American Airlines and US Airways about yesterday’s incident when bassist Ranaan Meyer of Time for Three was not allowed to check his double bass on a US Airways flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to Philadelphia. (Read more about the incident below.)

Christie noted that American Airlines and US Airways currently have “two different operating certificates, and we’re in the process of integrating our policies and procedures.” This explains why the two share some policies and differ with others, and it probably contributes to employees’ confusion about the actual polices they are supposed to enforce.

In the case of musical instruments, US Airways and American Airlines each state policies on their respective Web pages, and each page refers to the other for passengers of that airline. No doubt having separate policies for airlines that are in the process of integration creates confusion for the airlines and their employees, but it should not become a hindrance for musicians traveling on professional business.

Concerning the specific incident in Los Angeles, Christie said:

“I must first state that our policies are in line with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Unfortunately confusion on our policy led to denial of checking the customer’s instrument. We are in the process of working to clarify our policies on checked musical instruments with our employees to ensure that they are being applied correctly and so that we don’t have a repeat incident such as yesterday. We do apologize for the confusion and the customer’s inconvenience. We have refunded the customer’s tickets and customer relations will be reaching out to the customer to apologize.”

I pointed out that the US Airways policy on double basses as currently stated on the their Web page is nonsensical, in that it says that “Cellos and bass violas will only be accepted as seat baggage,” meaning they cannot be transported as checked baggage. This makes no sense, because a double bass would never fit in the cabin and can only be transported as checked baggage.

Christie responded:

“That is correct, and we did try—that was our first option when he [Meyer] was working with the customer service agent in LA. Our first hope is to store it in the cabin in an extra seat, but as you stated, the double bass is far too tall and it wouldn’t clear the drop on the overhead. Then our next step is to see about checking it, and again that’s where the confusion about our policy led to the denial of checking that customer’s instrument. But now as far as the policy online, we are working to clarify that policy online as well.”

“While we worked hard to accommodate Mr. Meyers [sic] on US Airways and worked to find an alternate flight with another carrier, we did fall short of providing the level of service to our customer that they’ve come to expect, and for that we do sincerely apologize.”

A clarification and consistent application of the policy would benefit everyone—the airline, their employees, and most of all the musicians who must travel to maintain a career. In the meantime, this story—just like previous stories about traveling musicians—has spread pretty rapidly around the world. Here are a few links to other stories about the saga of Ranaan Meyer and US Airways:

The Stad

Slipped Disc

WIBC Radio, Indianapolis

WQXR Radio, New York

The Contrapuntist

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