Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason barred from British Airways flight


The Strad — Sheku Kanneh-Mason recently experienced flight woes as he was denied boarding on a British Airways flight with his cello.

Kanneh-Mason took to Twitter/X, outlining the situation. He was booked on the 0820 BA885 flight from Bucharest to London Heathrow Airport on 20 September 2023.

‘I arrived early at the airport with my cello, with my two confirmed tickets, one for me and one for the cello. The bookings were not modified or changed in any way since we made them, and neither was that flight altered by @British_Airways.

‘I was not allowed to board with my cello and yet the blame was placed firmly on me.  No solution was offered, no compensation, just that it was my fault because I had allegedly “modified the booking”.’

Kanneh-Mason called for clarity on instrument policy from airlines. ‘Sadly, this is a common problem for me and my fellow professional musicians who travel with instruments that, for many reasons, cannot go in the hold.  Why are there these inconsistencies? We need some sort of protocol that we can refer to when we hit these problems. So, @British_Airways (and there are other airlines who do this too) shall we sit down and try to work something out, please?’

Kanneh-Mason’s tweet has garnered almost 150,000 views, inviting other musicians and sympathisers to share their opinions. ‘I recently had a similar experience travelling to Austria,’ tweeted fellow British cellist Guy Johnston. ‘It’s maddening! I had to pay double the original ticket price from what I remember.’

Another contributor, Matt Ensor said: ‘I have heard of this a few times now, it seems that the computer system can’t handle a booked seat that doesn’t have a passport associated with it?’

In an additional tweet on 21 September, Kanneh-Mason said, ‘Got any good tips @StevenIsserlis when it comes to getting @British_Airways to compensate you for the new flight you had to book to get home? It was THREE times as much as I paid for my confirmed tickets with them.’

‘Sorry for delay – just got off a long flight with…BA! (Who were nice – today!),’ replied Steven Isserlis. ‘They HAVE to pay you back; but it’s a pain. Who booked the original flight? They should take care of it. Funny – as I left today, one of the staff told me that the cello was the best passenger ever!’

British Airways responded to Kanneh-Mason’s tweet with an apology, asking him to message the airline with his full name and booking reference for further questioning.





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  1. Oh for anu to have such problems. I need to buy another plane ticket for my cello to be beside me on the plane. You sure ah na wan gyal you want ? Pssy

  2. Because of their very large size, most airlines will not accept a cello as part of the normal cabin allowance so most passengers usually opt to buy an additional seat in order to facilitate and accommodate the instrument. However not every airline will do this. It is always wise for passengers to check the airline before making reservations and to check the airline baggage policy regarding the transportation of the instrument as the policy tend to vary between airlines and between countries. Sometimes airlines make a case when they see the size of the instrument that transporting it in a passenger seat threatens passenger safety. Because it it’s large, delicate and fragile nature (it is easily broken and damaged) most cello owners would never opt for their instrument to be put in the airlines cargo hold.

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