Band Call Out Air Canada for "Brutal" Handling of Instruments

Rum Ragged have suffered a broken guitar and lost bouzouki after their latest flight on the airline

Photo via @rumragged on Instagram

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 19, 2024

It's become a tale as old as commercial flying itself: while travelling to or from a performance, an artist has a beloved (and expensive, and necessary) piece of equipment damaged at the hands of the airline. It memorably happened to Madi Diaz earlier this year when she flew Delta from Nashville, TN, to Dublin, Ireland, to support Kacey Musgraves's tour. You truly never know when it could be an instrument's final flight.

Even those who are barely musicians — not to mention disabled people travelling with mobility aids like wheelchairs, but that's an angry outburst I should suppress for another day — like Simu Liu can agree that Air Canada, the nation's largest airline, can be among the worst offenders. St. John's, NL-based folk act Rum Ragged are the latest band to call out Air Canada for their "brutal" handling of musical instruments, having suffered a broken guitar and a lost bouzouki after flying from London, UK, to Toronto.

The band took to social media earlier this week to share photos of a Takamine acoustic guitar with the headstock completely ripped from the neck. "On the advice of your company we always gate check our instruments for safety and security that they won't be lost," Rum Ragged wrote, adding that the bouzouki — a long-necked lute popular in Greece — had been damaged just three months prior, and they still hadn't received any answers or compensation after filing a claim upon Air Canada's instruction.

"We hope this gets your attention, and maybe you can try to make this right somehow. Please do the right thing and take responsibility for your brutal handling of these instruments," the band added. "Do better."

In a statement, Air Canada claimed the airline takes additional steps to ensure musical instruments are handled with care during transit. "Generally, we make provisions and take extra care to ensure musical instruments travel safely as we understand their importance to their owners," said a representative told blogTO via email yesterday (June 18). "Typically we accommodate guitars and other musical instruments in the cabin, and tens of thousands of them travel safely this way each year. The company added that there are limitations, though, and bringing instruments into the cabin isn't always an option due to "space restrictions and operational requirements." 

As it has outlined on its website, Air Canada explained that musical instruments should "always be properly packed in a rigid and/or hard shell container specifically designed for shipping such items." Vancouver troubadour Dan Mangan pointed this out in the comments of Rum Ragged's Instagram post, where the band explained that they had actually switched to the MONO M80 soft case after one of their custom hard shell ones was "somehow punctured and crushed" when the airline had destroyed their previous bouzouki, and that these MONO cases were recommended by several touring peers.

Air Canada is said to be in touch with the band and following up to apologize and cover the cost of repairing the guitar. Apparently the missing bouzouki has also been located and will be returned to the band. 

However, as recently as within an hour of this writing, Rum Ragged are still circulating posts asking the airline to remedy the situation. See the original one below.

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