Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Northwest Breaks Dulcimers - the story continues

Dave Carroll shows online gripes can get results -- chicagotribune.com
Inspired by Carroll, Bing Futch said he wrote a song and crafted a video Friday about a dulcimer splintered by Northwest Airlines workers because he wanted to avoid a lengthy battle to be reimbursed.

Futch said he filed an online claim after the June 14 incident, but not within the 24 hours specified by the airline. "Since then I've gotten crickets," the Orlando-based musician said.

That changed quickly when Delta Air Lines, which acquired Northwest last fall, learned of his video, "Northwest Breaks Dulcimers," on Monday. "We've reached out to the customer and offered our apologies and compensation," said Susan Elliott, a Delta spokeswoman. She said his dulcimer was damaged, in part, because it was packaged in a soft-shell case. She urged passengers to carefully pack musical instruments.

The excerpt above is from the story published in today's Chicago Tribune. There were a couple of surprises included. One, I wasn't aware that Delta had acquired Northwest. Another surprise in the article was the paragraph beginning with "That changed quickly.." Shortly after my phone interview with Julie Johnsson, I received another phone call from Kristine Brown of Northwest Airlines. After talking through the situation, she did indeed make an offer of compensation. Since this situation is still developing, I'll leave it at that.

The article makes it appear as though I willy-nilly offered up my dulcimer as a sacrifice to the baggage handling gods. Suffice it to say that, even by Northwest/Delta's own carry-on allowances, my soft carry-on dulcimer bag was intended to go inside the plane and not in the cargo hold. Though there was space for the bag in a closet near the front of the plane, I was told to gate-check it by a Northwest flight attendant who ignored my protestations that it was an acoustic instrument in a soft case unfit for cargo transportation.

Notice that even Delta spokeswoman Susan Elliott stated that damage was sustained, "in part", due to the softness of the case. The part left unstated had to do with the actions of the flight attendant.

Only one time before have I been forced to gate-check an instrument and that was a Delta flight. Delta has a notorious history, known for their intolerance regarding musical instruments as carry-ons, to the point of a boycott against the airline instituted by the American Federation of Musicians.

The AFM also has been working with the airline industry to institute uniform carry on and storage policies in respect to instruments. While most airlines have shown sympathy toward musicians, Delta Airlines remains uncooperative and has created numerous problems for AFM members. In response, the AFM issued a boycott of Delta. Recently, the AFM has been informed that Delta is reviewing its policies.

The pressure worked and the boycott was called off, according to a press release dated April 26, 2007:

In addition to its carry-on policy, Delta also improved its checked baggage policy. Previously, Delta only accepted checked baggage that measured 80 linear inches or less with a weight limit of 80 pounds. Checked items can now measure up to 120 linear inches and weigh up to 100 pounds, good news for musicians traveling with large instruments.

While "Only A Northwest Song" hasn't gotten nearly the quantity of hits that "United Breaks Guitars" did, the rate of views has picked up considerably over the past 24 hours. In all of the 179 videos posted on my YouTube page, it is absolutely the fastest racker of hits.

Stay tuned.

1 comment:

russel said...

Thanks for sharing