AA Pilot Doesn’t Allow $20,000,000 Violin on Plane!

Rachel Barton Pine
image: wikimedia commons

Rachel Barton Pine, a famous violinist was stopped by an American Airlines pilot from bringing her 1742 violin from being brought onboard as a carry on.

The pilot said that the violin, insured for almost $20,000,000 was too big. When Pine mentioned that the FAA and American Airlines allow instruments like her violin on (first come first serve as long as they fit in the overhead bin or under a seat) he got nasty.

According to USA Today, the pilot told her “It’s not going on because I say so“. Pine was supposed to fly from Chicago to New Mexico where she was supposed to perform.

The crew said that Pine should check her violin. Instead, she decided not to board the plane! (Last year she had a similar situation take place with US Airways, and ended up spending a night at the airport in Phoenix.)

AA got her on another flight and said in a statement that it “has reached out to Ms. Barton directly to apologize for the inconvenience.

Rachel Barton Pine has the violin, a Joseph Guarneri”del Gesu” thanks to “a lifetime loan from an anonymous patron“.

Do you think that the AA pilot was abusing his power in stopping the violin to be brought onboard as a carry on or was he just doing his job?

Find out more from USA Today here.

12 thoughts on “AA Pilot Doesn’t Allow $20,000,000 Violin on Plane!

  1. There’s got to be more to this story but based on what’s here, yes, the pilot did over reach his authority. I can’t conceive of why this incident would develop since a violin and case are much smaller than a guitar or other instruments carried on board flights. Unless there was an issue without overhead stowage, what could have been the basis of his edict? I’ve “baby sat” one of the world’s greatest violinists’ instrument for a few hours and lived in terror that some band of well-versed thieves would choose just that moment to “liberate” it. Believe me, no violinist would ever consider checking their instrument, valuable or not.

  2. We have only heard one side of the story, but I really struggle with coming up with ONE reason why a violin should not be allowed on board. Even if the plane is 100% full, she should be able to store it somewhere.
    This makes AA, and this pilot in particular, look very very bad.

  3. That’s not the most expensive violin to fly, and I bet bigger violin cases have flown in smaller planes.

    What is the obligatory There’s More to the Story? The airline captain can’t be the only ego at fault. The airline captain doesn’t even stand at the entrance of the plane approving individual carryon item. Someone made a scene, and it got escalated to the captain. Why did this musician get into a similar situation in the past, when tens of thousands of violinists fly with violins they treasure for their life just as much as her?

    1. Do you know any professional musicians? It doesn’t work that way. She does not OWN the violin, and likely makes the equivalent of a middle-class salary, if that. This flight is probably what she could afford for the concert (or what the promoters paid for.)

      1. No I don’t know any professional musicians. However you seem to be well versed in this topic so please explain to us how someone who makes $75k/yr (if that) can afford to make payments on a $20m instrument?

        1. If you read the penultimate paragraph of the article, you will learn that she neither owns the violin nor needs to make payments on it.

          1. I just read the USA today article – it’s very interesting that someone who may not make very much has something in their possession with such a high value. Digression aside, it’s clear the pilot overstepped.

        2. Had you actually bothered to read the article you would have learned she has the violin on loan from an anonymous patron. I can confirm what the other poster noted, even though she’s world-famous (that means something different in the classical music world than in rock or pop) she’s not making big bucks. Many top-rank violinists and cellists play on instruments laoned to them that they could never in a million years afford to buy themselves. Top-end pianos are much less expensive by comparison but also much less portable!

  4. Absolutely yes, the pilot abused his power. I wish all questions in life were so easily answered.

  5. David B- I’d also wonder if any other details were left out but AA did reach to offer an apology…

    Deltahater- Right! Probably why AA apologized.

    Left Handed Passengers- You definitely raise some good questions.

    Ali- Why not?

    John- Thanks for sharing!

    JakePB- LOL. It does appear from what was reported that the pilot did abuse his power.

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