Musician booted off American Airlines flight because of her cello

American Airlines kicks musician off flight because her $30,000 cello is ‘too big’ for the seat she bought for it – then it’s claimed pilot ‘flashed VICTORY sign’ as she left

  • Jingjing Hu flew to Miami with her cello for a music festival without any issues 
  • When she boarded her return flight to Chicago last week, she was told to get off 
  • Hu, a music student, said she had paid for a separate seat for her $30,000 cello
  • American Airlines said the incident was miscommunication: ‘We apologize for the misunderstanding and customer relations has reached out to her’

An outraged musician claims she was booted off an American Airlines flight because of her cello – despite paying for a separate seat for the $30,000 instrument.

Jingjing Hu, a student at the DePaul University School of Music in Chicago, had flown to Miami with her cello for a music festival without any issues.

But after she had boarded her return flight to Chicago on Thursday, crew members claimed her cello was too big for the seat and asked her to get off the plane, NBC5 reports.

Hu had been provided with a strap to secure her cello, however airline staff told her the instrument was too large for the Boeing 737 jet and she would have to fly on a 767.

As she left the plane, an altercation with the pilot apparently occurred and he allegedly accused her of knocking into her with the cello case.

In a Facebook post, Hu’s husband Jay Tang claimed the pilot then flashed a ‘victory sign’ at his wife and accused her of injuring him when she made her way past with her cello.

But observers suggested he may have simply been indicating that two more passengers could board the seemingly overbooked flight.

Jingjing Hu (right, with her husband Jay Tang) says American Airlines ordered her off a plane because her cello was too big – even though she’d pay for the instrument to have its own seat

She claims an American Airlines agent had assured her that there would be no issues accommodating her instrument on both flights.

Hu says crew members told her the cello, secured inside a hard case, was too big for the seat – but she insists it met the seat size restrictions.

Passengers are permitted to carry oversized instruments in the flight cabin if they purchase an extra seat.


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American Airlines’ policy requires instruments to weigh less than 165lbs – and Hu’s weighs less than 10.

She had made it through security with her cello and was given a strap to secure her instrument despite the returning flight being a slightly smaller plane.

Hu’s husband Tang claimed the pilot had accused his wife of injuring him as she left the plane. ‘My wife then took a picture of him and he was doing the victory sign to her,’ he said

Hu claims an American Airlines agent had assured her that there would be no issues accommodating her cello (above, file photo)

It was only after she secured the instrument that the airline asked her to get off – and she believes it was because the flight was overbooked.

She was rebooked on a flight that left Miami the following day.

Her husband Jay Tang, who had booked the flights, told NBC: ‘I don’t think we did anything wrong here and I think the way they handled it was humiliating.’

Tang took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about the way his wife was treated.

‘This is how American Airlines treats musicians!’ he wrote.

‘I purchased two round trip tickets for her and her cello on April 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 absolutely allowed and she won’t have any problem.’

Tang took to Facebook and Twitter to complain about the way his wife was treated

JAY TANG’S FULL POST ABOUT HIS WIFE’S ORDEAL

This is how American Airlines treats its musicians! So my wife Jingjinh Hu, a DePaul University School of Music student, is scheduled to fly back to Chicago on American Airlines flight 2457 from Miami today. She is travelling with her cello in a hard case as a cabin baggage. 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 3 hours ahead, checked in her luggage, went through security check, and boarded the plane normally. Just before the flight attendants were about to close the gate, she was told to get off the plane because “the aircraft is too small for the cello”. She was assured that she could get on the next flight to Chicago about 1 hour later. 

When she was turning around and leaving the plane, her cello case touched the pilot. The pilot immediately claimed that he was bleeding because of the touch, while apparently there is no blood or injury to be found. My wife then took a picture of him and he was doing the victory sign to her and said “this is why we need to get her out”. Interestingly my wife was travelling with a friend, who remained on the plane. She told us that after my wife left, two other passengers came and sat in her and her cello’s seats. The story does not end here. After she got off the plane and trying to find the next flight that was guaranteed, she was told that the next flight was also “too small” for the cello, and they called the police because my wife was “not being understandable”. Fairly speaking no one can understand what’s happening. So surrounded by three law enforcement officers, my wife was told again that either she purchase first or business class tickets out of her pocket or she could not fly back to Chicago on an American Airlines flight because of Federal Aviation Administration regulations. 

So basically you either have to be rich to purchase the tickets, or just settle in Miami. I don’t know how are musicians supposed to travel to comply with those “regulations”. But clearly AA is just playing around with customers. They just kick off passengers when they oversell their tickets using FAA regulations as an excuse. I could have been told those regulations when purchasing the ticket. My wife could have been told those regulations when flying from Chicago to Miami, at check in counter in Miami International Airport, at the gate or even when boarding the plane. Yet they chose to kick her out last minute after she was seated and her cello safely secured. They even need law enforcement involved. What a shame. Please share and forward this if you can. We are so helpless when facing those giant companies. We demand American Airlines to offer my wife and her cello a flight back to Chicago, an explanation and an apology.

He added: ‘Just before the flight attendant were about to close the gate, she was told to get off the plane because ‘the aircraft is too small for the cello’.’

Tang also claimed that the flight’s pilot had accused his wife of injuring him as she left the plane.

‘My wife then took a picture of him and he was doing the victory sign to her and said ‘this is why we need to get her out’.

‘Interestingly, my wife was travelling with a friend, who remained on the plane.

‘She told us that after my wife left, two other passengers came and sat in her and her cello’s seats.’

He added that despite being assured that his wife would be able to fly on the next flight, she was then told that it was also ‘too small’ for the cello.

‘They called the police because my wife was ‘not being understandable’,’ he added.

American Airlines said the Boeing 737 (above, file photo) was too small to accommodate the cello – and rebooked Hu on a Boeing 767

Tang added: ‘They just kick off passengers when they oversell their tickets using FAA regulations as an excuse.

‘I could have been told those regulations when purchasing the ticket.

‘My wife could have been told those regulations when flying from Chicago to Miami, at check in counter in Miami International Airport, at the gate or even when boarding the plane.

‘Yet they chose to kick her out last minute after she was seated and her cello safely secured. They even need law enforcement involved. What a shame.’

He concluded: ‘We are so helpless when facing those giant companies. We demand American Airlines to offer my wife and her cello a flight back to Chicago, an explanation and an apology.’

American Airlines said that the incident was due to a ‘miscommunication.’

In a statement, the airline said it rebooked Hu on a flight on a larger aircraft – a Boeing 767 – and provided hotel and meal accommodations.

‘We apologize for the misunderstanding and customer relations has reached out to her,’ the statement added. 

 

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