Violinist kicked off US flight after refusing to check in $80,000 instrument

6 November 2018, 17:18 | Updated: 6 November 2018, 21:06

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

An acclaimed American violinist was forced off a flight in the US yesterday, after crew claimed there was no room on board for his violin.

Yesterday morning (5 November), Emmanuel Borowsky was escorted off a Southwest Airlines flight from Manchester-Boston Regional Airport to Baltimore with his violin.

After noticing a lack of overhead storage on the flight, Borowsky asked airline crew if he could secure his instrument, worth $80,000 (£61,000), in one of the available seats.

He claims the crew ignored his suggestion and put him on another flight seven hours later, causing him to miss a day of professional engagements.

An airline refused to let this orchestra on board – and they protested in the best way >

“[The crew] were just completely unwilling to assist,” said Borowsky. “They only offered me one option – either the violin goes in the hold, or you get off. There wasn’t any negotiating, I wasn’t going to make a scene and they weren’t willing to be reasonable, so I had to get off the flight.

“I’ve flown multiple times and both the airline and the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] have normally been really accommodating to all musicians and their instruments. I’ve never had an issue before.”

Interior of an airplane
Interior of an airplane. Picture: Getty

After he was escorted off the 7am flight, airline staff booked Borowsky onto their second flight of the day at 10am. However, he was also removed from the second flight, after a customer with priority boarding needed space to put their own luggage in the overhead locker.

“As I’ve never had any issues before, I don’t usually get priority boarding. Normally, they’re very accommodating,” Borowsky said.

Borowsky eventually boarded a third Southwest Airlines flight at 2.30pm, which ultimately led to him missing meetings in Bethesda, a presentation at UMD College Park and teaching at Towson University. He claims to have received no compensation for the delay.

“They even went so far as to joke with me, saying I delayed the first flight,” he said. “I’ve flown with Southwest Airlines many times – they’re one of my preferred airlines, I would say.

“In general, a lot of good has already been done with what the FAA does in terms of accommodation for musicians. I think this was maybe more of a case of one individual who was unwilling to help.”

A spokesperson from Southwest Airlines told Classic FM: “We regret that [Mr Borowsky] had anything less than an outstanding experience as we always strive to provide our legendary Southwest Hospitality on every flight. Our records indicate that the customer was among the very last to board the full flight and, unfortunately, the overhead bins spaces were filled with the carry-on baggage of other customers.”