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airlines behaving badlyThis post is part of our “Airlines Behaving Badly” series, which chronicles the oft-wicked ways of the air travel industry.

Remember United Breaks Guitars, the song that became a social media sensation after a country musician had his instrument destroyed at the hands of an airline? Well, it turns out Delta breaks guitars too.

Dave Schneider, a musician with the band the LeeVees, was carrying a vintage 1965 Gibson ES-335 guitar — worth about $10,000 — on a flight from Buffalo to Detroit last month, reports Yahoo! News. On trips for past gigs, Schneider had always carried the valuable instrument onto the plane with him, but this time Delta employees at the gate wouldn’t allow it. “They said it was their policy,” Schneider told IndependentTraveler.com. “They had let me carry the guitar on [our previous Delta flight] from Portland to Philly, so why not here in Buffalo?”

Schneider reluctantly gate-checked the guitar, even though he told us that there were empty seats on the plane where he could have put the instrument, and that it would also have fit into an overhead bin. (On its Web site, Delta says, “Guitars and other smaller musical instruments, such as violins, will be accepted as your free carry-on baggage item on Delta and Delta Connection carriers flights. These items must easily fit in the overhead bin or other approved storage location in the cabin, based on available space at the time of boarding. Musical instruments may be gate claimed at the discretion of the passenger and as a result of limited overhead space.”)

After the plane touched down in Detroit, Schneider waited at the gate for his instrument to be returned, only to hear a screech from the elevator — where the guitar case was caught between it and a rail on the loading dock. Here’s how it looked when it was finally freed an hour later:

The guitar was damaged to the tune of $1,980 — more than the $1,000 Delta initially offered as compensation. After a whirlwind of media coverage, including an appearance on CNN, Schneider told us that he and Delta finally settled the issue yesterday. “They’re paying for the repairs and more,” he said.

What Not to Do at the Airport

The story has an even happier ending: Gibson, the maker of the damaged guitar, recently reached out to Schneider. The company offered him “a brand new 1963 50th Anniversary Cherry Red ES-335 due to the incident with Delta Airlines,” Schneider wrote on his Facebook page. “THANK YOU GIBSON!”

But what happens the next time Schneider needs to fly? “I might start just using ukeleles,” Schneider joked. “I really don’t know what to do. A lot of people ship their guitars, so that is a good option. But even that makes me nervous. It shouldn’t be that hard. I would pay a $50 fee to bring an instrument on the plane. I think that’s a great idea.”

— written by Sarah Schlichter

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5 Responses to “Delta Wrecks $10,000 Guitar”

  1. Bruce Lamb says:

    An Airline broke my guitar 12 years ago so i invented the Casextreme airline safe travel guitar case. In 12 years and over 6000 cases sold i have never heard of any
    instrument being damaged while inside one of our cases. I invented this case to be used by the airlines but have never been able to get a meeting with any of them to show them my cases in action. I hit them with hammers toss them off a roof top with $10,000 guitars inside and always no damage to any instrument. Many Grammy award winning artist an none professionals use our cases. It would be a winning combination if an airline would offer my cases to their customers as a rental or for free would even be better. They would have musicians running to buy airline tickets from them. I have a list of over 250 thousand guitarist who i would gladly send them to the airline that uses my cases. Any help would be gladly appreciated.

    • Kristina Lemons says:

      By the way, I think this is a great idea and the airlines should offer things like this. We already pay 25 bucks to check our stuff. Let’s face it, the people they hire will never pay attention to the stuff they destroy. Ugh.

  2. Bruce Lamb says:

    I forgot to mention how the airline safe case we build works. All a customer or airline ticket agent has to do is place the customers guitar in it own case inside
    our fly it safe travel guitar case. When the customer arrives at their destination the airline removes their protected beloved instrument from our case and hand it to the customer when they arrive at their destination.

  3. Kristina Lemons says:

    I’m dealing with this right now. Delta destroyed my accordion and I can’t take it on board! I need an airline safe case for my accordion!

    I have only gotten run around from Delta and I’m really worried.

    This accordion was used at my wedding and the man who played it developed Parkinson’s disease. He can no longer play and gave me the accordion. I’ve played since I was 4. I love the sound of this one. The instrument is worth at least 1000 according to Ebay, but I’m sure it’s worth more. Its made in Italy and is a professional model. The sentimental value is the part that kills me.


  4. donald carl brown says:

    Hi maybe you can help me I made about 6 to 8 trips to the Philippines and now live there, this Fri July 11,2014 I made to Manila with a all my baggage had to 3,800 peso for being over weight ok no problem when I went to check my baggage in at Delta in Manila they another $200.00 to check my steel guitar in I refuse to pay again i had a 5lbs. Evans Amp that I just bough for $1774.00 I made this same trip about 6 times back and forth from the Philippines never had any problem but they said guitars was free and that I had to many bags I had my little back pack and a little computer that would fit in the back pack and my 5Lbs amp and two check in baggage they if I wanted to board the plane pay the $200.00 I said no they look at my guitar and told me guitars was free but not that kind and made me repack my bags and put my $1774.00 in a check in baggage and before they would let me board the plane, and I don’t what they did but I have to send my amp back to the company that built it I hook it up when I got home and now it doesn’t work and I told that I can’t put this in check in but they would not listen is there some way I can get a permit to travel with my steel guitar and equipment for all air lines because when I make the flights to the Philippines I have different airline that I have to change if you can help thanks and sorry for the long letter thanks Don Brown.

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