Victimized Guitarist served up cold revenge to careless airline.

July 7, 2009 | By | 9 Replies More

Guitarist Dave Carroll was distressed when United Airlines damaged his Taylor guitar, and wouldn’t pay for the damage. Anyone who plays music seriously knows that this is an extremely serious matter. Musicians spend years getting comfortable with their instruments and they plan on using a good instruments for a lifetime. A good instrument becomes an extension of you.

This story really hit a nerve, because I had a similar experience on American Airlines about 7 years ago. I was transporting a classical style Taylor guitar from Missouri to Maine to perform for a friend’s wedding (BTW, Taylor makes great guitars, as Dave and I both know). Out of the airplane window I saw some moron slamming my guitar case onto the top of a luggage cart on the tarmac. It was totally needless and vicious. I was outraged. When I got the guitar back in Maine, the case was banged up, a latch had been ripped from the hard shell case and the internal microphone battery had been jolted out of the internal battery-holder. Why did I entrust my guitar to the airline? Because they had told me that checking it was the ONLY way to transport my guitar.

On the way back to Missouri, I got my way and gate checked it. This episode left me with a bad feeling. Now I feel better, though, because Dave Carroll went to a lot of trouble to tell his story in detail. The song goes on for awhile (probably an indication of the intensity of his frustration), but you’ll get the idea within a minute or two. Cute video to go with the music.

Way to go, Dave!

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Category: Humor, music, Noteworthy, travel

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (9)

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  1. grumpypilgrim says:

    Unfortunately, many (most?) airlines have a well-deserved reputation for destroying their customers' luggage. One solution is to ship valuable items via a more reliable freight carrier, such as UPS or Federal Express. Though I have no personal experience shipping musical instruments, I do know that it is almost always better to ship a bicycle via UPS or FedEx than have the airlines do it.

  2. Dan Klarmann says:

    Note the disclaimer: "no TAYLOR guitars were harmed in the making of this video" (emphasis in the original).

  3. Dan Klarmann says:

    United is not solely to blame. Baggage handling seems to follow the rule: Items must be dropped at least 18" when handled. I've watched baggage handlers for years. They make extra effort to get that loft as bags of all descriptions are slammed onto conveyors. TWA, Delta, United, American, UPS, whoever.

    I've learned from shipping heavy, delicate items that things need to be packed to survive at least three drops of 3 feet onto non-adjacent corners, sides, or edges. I've received quite a few bashed-up items within intact packaging, because they were not properly secured.

    Items packed by the UPS store "experts" were most likely to be damaged in shipping. These professionals (probably working up to fast food) don't realize that all packages will be dropped upside down. "This side up" notwithstanding. And a few wads of newspaper will not support a 40 pound delicate instrument.

  4. Mindy Carney says:

    I have a friend who is also an avid guitar player and has two beautiful acoustic instruments – an Olson and a Ryan, both built to order. I don't think he'd ever consider checking either of them – he'd either ship it or he'd buy it a seat.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    Mindy: Your comment reminded me that the airlines do offer you a failsafe way to ship a big instrument. They do offer to sell you a separate seat for your instrument. I turned it down. I also did sign a waiver of damage, but like Dave, I was shocked that they wouldn't be somewhat gentle with baggage that was obviously fragile–after all, the airline tagged it with a "fragile" sticker.

  6. Mindy Carney says:

    Most baggage handlers, I imagine, are fine people who appreciate their jobs and do them well, with respect for the fact that they are handling things that are important to their passengers. Others, however, likely feel resentful of the fact that they have to lug around other people's stuff. I don't know what kind of money baggage handlers make, but I imagine it's not a lot. They probably don't fly off to other cities all that often. Some probably take great pleasure out of beating up something that might be important to one of the rich bastards getting on that plane.

    Not always, of course. Sometimes they are perfectly fine people who are just clumsy or careless or having a bad day.

    I'm just sayin' –

  7. Dave Carroll, & his brother Don Carroll, The Sons Of Maxwell. are very good friends of mine!

  8. Erich Vieth says:

    "So how was Mr. Carroll’s most recent flight on United? This Everyman symbol of the aggrieved traveler was treated, well, like just another customer. United lost his bag."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/business/29air….

  9. Erich Vieth says:

    "[A]s President Obama debates whether to send more American troops to Afghanistan, and whether, more pointedly, he might be sending them down a black hole of civic hopelessness, American and Afghan scholars and diplomats say it is worth recalling four decades in the country’s recent history, from the 1930s to the 1970s, when there was a semblance of a national government and Kabul was known as “the Paris of Central Asia.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/18/weekinreview/18

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