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Musician Kicked Off An American Airline Due To ‘Risk’ Posed By His Cello

Travelers Today       By    Chiqui Guyjoco

Updated: Apr 10, 2017 04:24 AM EDT

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musician, cellist, cello, American Airlines, american airlines flights, John Kaboff, musicians aboard, musical instruments

An American Airlines flight kicked off musician John Kaboff when he carried a cello on board. The flight's pilot and crew told him that the stringed instrument posed a safety risk.

The 46-year-old cellist bought a seat next to him for his $100,000 cello aboard 737 aircraft flight 153 bound for Chicago on April 4. Kaboff told ABC7 that the pilot and a flight attendant approached him on his seat and instructed him to "voluntarily leave" or else he will "be removed from the airplane" all because of the musical instrument. The crew deemed it unsafe for flight travel.

It became apparent that the crew had mistaken the cello as a bass fiddle when they showed Kaboff a handheld computer that listed the bass fiddle as among the musical instruments banned from the aircraft. The musician tried to correct them but the pilot had already made up his mind. They also denied Kaboff's request for a seatbelt extension to secure the cello as it wasn't strapped in and the 4 feet instrument slightly touched the floor.

Back at Virginia's Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the upset musician posted a video on Facebook about the incident. He's traveled with the American Airlines 40 times in the past three years and twice this month and the only time something like this happened was 12 years ago. The airline has since apologized for the "error" and informed ABC7 in a statement that Kaboff and his cello had already been "accommodated on the next flight to Chicago." The airline will also refund Kaboff about $150 for the cello's seat.  

The musician hoped that the airlines would also improve its training for the flight crew. As it turned out, cellos are allowed in-flight as long as they meet the seat size requirements and do not exceed 165 pounds. Kaboff's cello weighed about 70 pounds.

Kaboff's experience happened with fellow musicians in 2014 when the US Airways didn't let in violinists Nicolas Kendall and Zach De Pue because of their violins.  The classical musicians retaliated by playing on the tarmac and uploading the video on YouTube. According to The Blaze, US Airways issued an apology and booked the violinists on another flight.

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