Chinese student Jingjing Hu plays the cello and studies music at DePaul University in Chicago. Unfortunately, Hu received a harsh lesson in the struggles of being a musician the other day when she was kicked off an American Airlines flight from Miami back to Chicago because “the aircraft is too small for the cello.”
Hu was told that if she wanted to stay on the plane, she would have to buy a first class ticket, which she could not afford.
The awful incident was chronicled by Hu’s husband, Jay Tang, in a Facebook post that has received thousands of views, comments, and reactions. According to Tang, they had settled matters regarding the cello well in advance. They actually bought an extra ticket to place the large instrument in a seat.
This is how American Airlines treats musicians! So my wife Jingjing Hu, a DePaul University School of Music student, is…
In Tang’s words: “I purchased two round trip tickets for her and her cello on Apr.2 on the phone directly from AA and told them specifically that one ticket is for the cello as cabin baggage. I was told it is abosolutely allowed and she won’t have any problem. She flew from Chicago to Miami on American Airlines 335 on Jun. 19 without any problem. She checked in her flight back yesterday online for both herself and the cello. Today she arrived at Miami International Airport – MIA 3 hours ahead, checked in her luggage, went through security check, and boarded the plane normally.”
After being refused service despite checking in before, Tang also says the flight’s pilot antagonized his wife. He falsely claimed that he had been struck by the instrument and was bleeding, then leered at her with the victory sign when she snapped a photo of him, saying, “this is why we need to get her out.”
Hu was escorted off the plane with two other passengers taking her seats. Tang believes that the flight was overbooked and that his wife paid the price when she had gone above and beyond in making sure she had prepared properly.
Hu was promised a new flight and was taken to a Holiday Inn (technically two, as they brought her to the wrong one at first). Unfortunately, the next morning, she ran into trouble again. While she eventually did get to board the second plane and make it home, the experience has her and her husband embittered.
They find it highly suspect that the airline allowed them to purchase their tickets even after they brought up the potential issue, then booted them as if they had been deceptive.
AA has promised to do a “deep dive” on the incident, but the damage has evidently already been done.