Crazy to read about Lynn Harrell‘s experience with Delta. (I think I’ll avoid Delta from here on out. But then I rarely fly so they won’t miss me.)
Rejection is a powerful feeling and one we have all experienced in one form or another but I have to say that I was dumbfounded when I received a Dear John letter from Delta Airlines at the beginning of 2012. Like most rejection letters, it started off with such a polite tone I thought it was going to be good news but it turned ugly in short order and by the end, it seemed as though they were trying to make me feel like some sort of master criminal. And it seems my offense was nothing more than accruing miles for the full fare tickets purchased for my cello.
One of the realities of a career as a cello soloist is lots of flying and since trusting airlines with a multi-million dollar instrument as checked baggage is enough to trigger a fight-or-flight response, cellists have to suck it up and simply buy a second ticket for the instrument. After all, it’s not as though you can simply borrow the local Stradivari or Montagnana! Over the course of my entire career, I’ve been building miles under the cello’s account and in turn, those miles help reduce the costs of flights for the cello in future trips.
I understand why airlines force musicians to purchase an extra seat if we insist on taking large instruments on board rather than allowing them to throw them into the luggage area (although watching them attempt to destroy luggage as they load things makes me want to carry even my luggage on board with me!), but if some musicians have to pay for a seat, it only seems fair that they get those miles. Sigh.