Airline bans youth orchestra from boarding plane over violin dispute

8 December 2014, 14:03 | Updated: 9 December 2014, 09:30

The artistic director of the Switzerland-based LGT Young Soloists has taken to the internet to vent his anger about the way his ensemble was treated by Singapore Airlines this weekend.

When a group of young musicians wouldn't check-in their Stradivarius violins, staff reportedly refused to let them board.

In a letter published on Slipped Disc, Alexander Gilman said: “Singapore Airlines did not let us on the plane because they wanted us to check[-in] our instruments… They wanted to force us to check[-in] violins with the suitcases.”

Gilman says he explained the high value of the instruments to Singapore Airlines staff: “I told them we had Stradivarius and extremely expensive violins. Their answer was they don’t care, it is our policy.

"They did not let us on board only because of violins and violas, even though we told them that we are speaking about millions of euros that will be destroyed. Their answer was they don’t care and that this is Singapore Airlines policy."

According to the blog, Lufthansa stepped in after a four-hour stand-off and flew the ensemble back to Zurich. 

In a statement, Singapore Airlines said: "Singapore Airlines is carrying out an internal review of an incident at Hong Kong airport on 6 December in which a group of customers was denied boarding on flight SQ871. The customers were carrying musical instruments and requested that they be allowed to be stowed in the cabin, rather than in the baggage hold. 

"We do regret the incident and sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and anxiety caused to the group. We will be contacting the affected customers directly to follow up with them. The internal review is intended to determine the full circumstances of the incident to assess how it could have been handled better. The customers were subsequently transferred to another airline with a direct flight to Europe from Hong Kong."