Yennifer Correia, a classical violinist, was on her way to play the summer season at the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, and a problem arose when an airport supervisor insisted that the violin must be checked.
The musician’s 17th-century violin was grabbed out of her hands by a United Airlines supervisor, and a struggle ensued during which she may have damaged her hand.
Yennifer Correia was booked to travel from Houston to Saint Louis via United Airlines when the professional violinist became involved in an altercation with a United Airlines supervisor.
Correia was told by gate agents that she would not be able to carry her valuable instrument on the plane, and it would have to be checked. Philip MacNaughton, Yennifer Correia’s lawyer, told the New York Daily News that Correia was asked to pay $50 to check the violin case, which was when she realized they were trying to make her check the violin. Correia replied “I can’t do that. I have to take it to the cabin with me.”
The New York Daily News reported that according to an appraiser, the violin concerned is worth tens of thousands of dollars.
“It is her livelihood, and knowing that baggage is often handled roughly and instruments are often broken, musicians don’t check them.”
The Washington Post reported that for a professional violinist, nothing would be as terrifying as seeing their expensive 17th-century instrument disappearing on the conveyor belt at an airport.
There are many horror stories of valuable instruments being damaged by airlines, and musicians know to never trust an airline with their instruments.
Correia then approached a supervisor, asking what her options were. She offered to pay a fee or board an alternative flight, but Yennifer refused to check the valuable violin.
“I can’t not take my violin on board. I’ll pay the money. I’ll take another flight. Just tell me what I can do.”
After Correia had asked what her options were regarding the violin, the supervisor allegedly said, “You have no options.”
Correia then asked the supervisor her name, at which time the United Airlines employee allegedly grabbed Correia’s duffel bag containing clothing and attempted to remove a luggage sticker from the handles.
MacNaughton stated that the supervisor said, “If you are going to get my name, then I’ll get yours!”
Realizing she was wasting her time trying to reason with the supervisor, Correia asked her if she could speak to her boss, and without any provocation whatsoever, the supervisor lunged for Correia’s case and tried to wrestle it away from her.
A tug-of-war ensued over the case, with Correia screaming for help and asking observers to video the incident.
The supervisor advised she was going to call security, and Correia responded with, “Please do!” It was then that the supervisor dashed off, never to return.
"(A) Houston-based gate agent at United Airlines told Yennifer Correia that she would have to check her… https://t.co/FO5YZYeOWd
— Art Joly (@OldToolmaker1) June 7, 2017
According to Federal Aviation Administration regulations, airlines are required to allow passengers to carry into the cabin and stow a small musical instrument, such as a violin or a guitar, in the overhead bin or under the seats.
United Airlines issued a statement in which it promised to investigate the incident.
“We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that does not live up to his or her expectation. We are reaching out to Ms. Correia to gain a better understanding of what occurred and to offer assistance.”
MacNaughton said that Correia’s hand was slightly injured during the scuffle, and although she doesn’t believe there’s any permanent damage, she will visit a hand specialist just to be sure.
According to her lawyer, Correia traveled to Saint Louis via another airline carrier on Tuesday, where she’ll have her hand examined to ensure she wasn’t injured during the fight over her luggage.
“Besides the impropriety of that in general, I think we all sort of know surgeons’ hands are valuable, a baseball pitcher’s hand is valuable, a professional violinist’s hands are particularly important.”
— Cameron West (@cameronwestmusi) June 5, 2017
Dallas News reported that because of the altercation, Yennifer Correia missed her flight and her first rehearsal with the symphony.
MacNaughton is threatening to file a lawsuit against United Airlines and has contacted both United and the City of Houston requesting that neither party destroys any evidence, including surveillance footage, related to the incident.
“Can’t believe this happened to me!” Correia posted to Facebook on Sunday.
[Featured Image by Vavzhynyak Dasha/Shutterstock]