Montreal

Montreal musician and her cello left behind after Air Canada ticketing mishap

A Montreal musician who bought an extra ticket for her cello was grounded after Air Canada told her she couldn't bring her instrument into the cabin.

Andrea Stewart paid for an extra seat and advanced seat selection before her flight

Andrea Stewart (left) booked an extra seat for her cello, but was left at the gate with her instrument. (Matt Haimovitz/Facebook)

A Montreal musician who bought an extra ticket for her cello was grounded after Air Canada told her she couldn't bring her instrument into the cabin.  

Andrea Stewart, a PhD candidate at McGill University who teaches at the Schulich School of Music, was flying out of Trudeau Airport Monday with her group, Uccello, headed for rehearsals in California's Napa Valley. 

Concerned about her fragile instrument, she paid extra to have a seat for the cello. Because the instrument has to travel in a window seat for safety reasons, she paid an extra fee to pre-select the seats. 

Air Canada is the only Canadian airline that flies out of Montreal that allows travellers to purchase seats for cellos, she said, but it's routine in Europe.

Stewart arrived at the ticket counter for her early morning flight, she said she was told there wasn't enough room on the flight for the cello. 

"They charged me for two tickets but they only reserved one seat," she said, adding the reservation was made by a travel agency. 

Cellist Andrea Stewart says Air Canada would not let her fly with her cello in an adjacent seat because the flight she was scheduled to take was overbooked. Stewart had bought two tickets, one for herself and another for her cello. 8:03
She waited at the counter for hours trying to work out a solution with customer service agents and eventually a manager.

In the end, the journey that should have been a five hour direct flight took Stewart nearly 22 hours. Stewart said the only compensation she was offered for the ordeal was a sandwich.

Air Canada was 'not aware' of cello

Air Canada provided CBC with a statement, saying the issue was not the space available on the flight, but that the travel agency that booked the flight failed to inform the airline that the extra ticket was for a cello. The airline said it needs that information in advance to ensure the necessary restraints are brought on board to safely tie it down

"In this particular case, the booking was not made by Air Canada, and the travel agent making the booking regrettably did not contact us to advise Ms. Stewart was travelling with a cello. We were not aware until she arrived at the airport, at which time we unfortunately could not accommodate it," the statement read.

"We have ensured that Ms. Stewart's return flight has had her cello correctly booked on her flight."

Daybreak spoke with the travel agent who made the booking. She said she had informed Air Canada the extra ticket was for an instrument prior to the flight. 

Clarifications

  • An earlier version of this story said the flight had been oversold. While Stewart says she was told there was no room on the flight for the cello, Air Canada says the flight was not oversold.
    Jul 22, 2015 11:37 AM ET

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