Violinist and Sydney Con professor Ole Bøhn was forced to change airlines after his instrument was barred from the cabin.
Violinist Ole Bøhn was forced to miss a flight to Sydney after Qantas staff refused to allow his violin in the cabin. The Norwegian violinist, who has performed extensively across Europe, the USA and South America, was supposed to fly from Santiago to Sydney on flight QF 28, but instead had to fly with a different airline 12 hours later.
“When boarding a staff member came up to me and wanted to put a baggage tag on my violin,” Bøhn told Limelight. “I told him no and said it was a violin and I have never had a problem bringing it onboard. Another staff person came and was very upset and claimed that I was rude to her colleague and absolutely denied to let me go onboard with the violin. I asked to speak to her manager who told me the same and that I had two options, one to put it in the baggage compartment or not fly with them.”
“I had no option as to not fly and they said they would book me on Latam flight 12 hours later,” Bøhn said. “I asked to see the rules Qantas was using to deny me to bring the violin onboard, but they refused to do so.”
“It has really messed up my agenda,” Bøhn told Slippedisc, who broke the story. “I was supposed to get into Sydney on Monday evening, sleep to be ready to teach and rehearse on Tuesday morning. Later that day I fly to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, to teach at a festival. Now there will be two nights on airplanes and no teaching on Tuesday morning in Sydney.”
“When I later boarded the Latan flight,” Bøhn told Limelight, “there was no problem whatsoever either in Santiago or in Auckland going to Sydney.”
The unpleasant experience was a first for Bøhn. “I have never experienced any problems travelling with my violin on any airlines, including Qantas,” he said.
“We’ll be reaching out to the customer when he arrives back in Sydney,” Qantas told Limelight when they were approached for comment. “We’re also speaking with our ground crew in Santiago to see what occurred. Our carriage of musical instruments policy can be found here. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
“I am in dialogue with Qantas and they are looking into the problem and waiting to get an explanation from their Santiago office,” Bøhn said. “I think Qantas has good rules which are favourable to musicians, but they need to enforce that their staff around the world are aware of these and don’t make mistakes. I would like to get an apology from Qantas and a recompense in some form. I hold the Gold Card with Qantas and want to be able to continue flying with them.”
Qantas has already been in the music news earlier this year when Perth musician Riley Pearce’s guitar was damaged in the hold of a Qantas flight from Sydney to London in April. What advice does Bøhn have for other musicians flying with their instruments? “I guess every musician needs to have printed out the rules of the airline they are flying with,” he said.