CHICAGO – A violinist accused United Airlines of rough treatment after she refused to check her fragile 18th-century instrument as luggage, another potential black mark to the U.S. carrier after an infamous passenger dragging incident.
Yennifer Correia was traveling Sunday from Houston to a music rehearsal in Columbia, Missouri, when ticket agents told her that she could not carry her circa late-1700s Italian violin onboard the plane, Correia’s attorney, Phil MacNaughton, told AFP on Wednesday.
The 33-year-old Venezuelan-born musician offered to pay any fees and asked for options that would allow her to travel with her violin, but a United supervisor tried to wrestle away the instrument leading to a brief tussle, MacNaughton said.
“There’s an unspoken rule in the professional musician world: never let an airline stow your instrument,” the Houston-based attorney said, pointing to a U.S. aviation regulation that requires airlines to accommodate small musical instruments as carry-ons onboard flights.
United Airlines did not return a request for comment.
The allegations threatened the carrier’s attempts to recover from a public relations fiasco in April, in which a 69-year-old doctor was dragged off an overbooked flight.
In that case, the carrier settled with David Dao for an undisclosed sum, and promised a set of operational changes to improve customer service.
MacNaughton posted a letter about the incident on Facebook, and is asking anyone with video footage of the incident to come forward.
He has also filed notice with the airline and the city of Houston, which operates the airport, to preserve any evidence of the incident — a common first step before a lawsuit is filed.