Kitchener-Waterloo

'Worst nightmare:' Air Canada broke $4,000 guitar, says Kitchener musician

A Kitchener, Ont. performer returning from a musical on Broadway is blaming Air Canada for damaging his acoustic guitar while it was being transported on a flight from New York to Toronto in June.

Airline offers $1,500 cheque to Kevin Ramessar after his acoustic guitar was cracked on a flight

A Kitchener musician is blaming Air Canada for damaging his acoustic guitar while it was being transported on a flight from New York City to Toronto in June. (Kevin Ramessar/Twitter)

A Kitchener musician is blaming Air Canada for damaging his acoustic guitar while it was being transported on a flight from New York City to Toronto in June.

Kevin Ramessar, who plays lead guitar in the show, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, on Broadway, expressed sadness on Twitter about the damaged guitar, a Stonebridge.

According to news reports, the instrument is worth $4,000.

"Wow. That took effort. My poor Stonebridge," Ramessar said on Twitter.

Air Canada apologized for the damage in a June 29 response to Ramessar, and in a response to CBC News on Wednesday the airline said it will issue him a cheque for $1,500 as "a measure of goodwill."

"I emailed back and said 'It's just not acceptable, this is a tool of the trade for me,'" Ramessar said.

"Unfortunately that won't cover the cost of the repair," Ramessar told CBC.

"It's going to take several months to get the parts from Europe," he said, and by the time he pays for a replacement rental guitar the bill could be closer to $3,000.

"They tried to make it sound like this is a normal thing that can happen while flying," he said. 

Damage report

The guitar was inside a plastic case when it was checked into the flight. Fragile stickers had been placed on the case. In photos, the guitar appears to have been cracked at the neck.

"I've been on hundreds of flights for maybe eight or nine years with this guitar — with that case — all across Canada and America," Ramessar said. "That's not a normal thing. That took effort to break."

 
The guitar was in a hard plastic case during the flight. Fragile stickers were placed on the case. (Kevin Ramessar/Twitter)

Ramessar said on Twitter that he sent photos and documentation of the damage to Air Canada and waited more than a week for a response. 

"It feels like @AirCanada is stalling. I've been sending in docs/pics for over a wk, but so far no resolution — Want to give benefit of doubt, but each time I send in something, they ask for more & now won't confirm receipt," he wrote.

A number of unavoidable factors

The airline finally did respond, according to Ramessar, and it did acknowledge the damage.

"We were sorry to learn that your guitar was received in a damaged condition after your travel to Toronto on June 21st, 2017," Air Canada says in the reply to his direct message.

"We can understand how frustrating this experience must have been. Our staff endeavours to handle all our passengers' baggage carefully, including fragile items, but there are a number of unavoidable factors involved, such as turbulence, shifting of items during takeoff and landing; and no airline can therefore guarantee against damage." 
'We were sorry to learn that your guitar was received in a damaged condition after your travel to Toronto on June 21st, 2017,' Air Canada says. (Kevin Ramessar/Twitter)

Peter Fitzpatrick, spokesperson for Air Canada, said in an email to CBC News that the airline has been in contact with Ramessar about the guitar.

"We do our very best to deliver all baggage safely and it is truly regrettable that it was reported damaged," Fitzpatrick said.

"Notwithstanding the fact that there was no damage to the guitar case, we have on an exceptional basis as a measure of goodwill, issued a cheque to Mr. Ramessar for $1,500, which is the maximum liability for lost and damaged baggage as per our ticket terms and conditions."

'Nightmare'

"This is the first time anything like this has ever happened to me for sure," Ramessar said, "and it's the worst nightmare for working musicians."

"I'm worried to even take a loaner [guitar] or rental high-end instrument and travel. I have a trip to Indianapolis next week to play with the symphony there ... and now I'm wondering what I'm going to do," he told CBC.

"I don't know if I really want to fly with them, with another expensive instrument that I have to check."

Shifting blame 'a lousy tactic'

Fitzpatrick said Air Canada's website also offers packing instructions for music instruments, including how strings should be loosened on stringed instruments before a flight.

In a tweet, Air Canada asked Ramessar: "Did you make sure to release the tension of the strings before your flight?"

Fellow Canadian musician Steven Page tweeted, "I'm going to suggest shifting any blame onto Kevin is a lousy tactic. He's about as pro as it gets."

'Best airline'

In May in Montreal, the International Federation of Musicians, which represents professional musicians and their trade unions in more than 60 countries, named Air Canada the best airline for musicians.

In a ceremony at its international orchestra conference, it gave Air Canada its newly created  "Airline of Choice" award.


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