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Musician booted off flight after buying extra seat for his cello

By
Ben Hooper

April 7 (UPI) -- A professional musician said he was kicked off of an American Airlines flight out of Washington, D.C., after purchasing an extra seat for his cello.

John Kaboff, 46, said he was sitting in his seat on the American Airlines flight from Reagan National Airport to Chicago when a flight attendant and the pilot told him he would not be allowed to fly with his cello in the seat next to him.

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Kaboff explained the incident in a Facebook post.

"I am at Reagan national airport I've just been kicked off an American Airlines 737 airplane for buying a seat for my cello. I need to go to Chicago today for work. Unfortunately a flight attendant who makes the decision for the safety of an entire airplane has decided that the Cello touching the floor in the bulkhead is on safe. This is where the Cello is supposed to sit. According to the American Airlines flight manual [a] Cello is allowed on a 737 aircraft. This is flight 153 to Chicago. Can anybody with any knowledge help out here?"

He said the flight crew refused to hear his objections.

"Either I could voluntarily leave, or I could be removed from the airplane," he told WJLA-TV.

"They said it was just not an approved musical instrument for flight travel," Kaboff said. "Since it would actually touch the floor a little bit, since it wasn't strapped in, it would pose a safety risk."

He said the crew incorrectly identified the instrument as a "bass fiddle," an instrument not allowed in the passenger cabin during flights, and would not listen when he told them it was a cello.

"The ground personnel and the gate agent said that someone's making an error with this and apologized on behalf of the airline," Kaboff said.

He said he has frequently flown with his cello and only ever had one other issue, about 12 years ago.

American Airlines booked Kaboff and his cello on the next flight to Chicago, which was also a 737.

The airline released a statement apologizing for the incident.

"We're reviewing the issue internally and apologize to Mr. Kaboff for any inconvenience he experienced today. Mr. Kaboff and his musical instrument were accommodated on the next flight to Chicago, and our customer relations team will be reaching out to him directly," the statement said.

The airline said it refunded Kaboff for the $150 ticket he purchased for his instrument.

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