Canadian national flag carrier Air Canada has refused to pay compensation to a musician after having damaged his guitar on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.
The incident occurred on December 8th, 2019 when Toronto resident Chad Walsh was traveling with his band the “The Man Who” to play a gig in Los Angeles the following day.
Protective of his guitar, Chad carried the musical instrument in its case to the gate before being told it would have to be put in the hold. The aircraft operating on 5h 30m flight number AC 799 from YYZ to LAX was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
Chad was forced to rent a replacement guitar
Chad said that he did not even realize that the guitar was broken until he unzipped the case just hours before the concert.
With the headstock of the guitar broken at the base where it meets the neck of the guitar, Chad was forced to rent a replacement just hours before the alt-indie trio took to the stage at the BARDOT on Vine St.
When being interviewed about the broken guitar by CTV News Toronto Chad said:
“We didn’t check it at the airport because it wasn’t part of our routine, we’ve traveled so much with all our gear but this never happened before. It’s just frustrating because our livelihoods are in the hands of the airline … it’s a helpless feeling.”
When he tweeted about the incident on the “The Man Who” Twitter feed, Air Canada sent him a direct message telling him to return to LAX and report the damage.
Chad waited until he was back in Toronto to file a claim
Unable to return to the airport right away, Chad waited until the following day and took the damaged guitar to the damaged baggage department.
Staff at the desk told him he had to file a report back in Toronto when he got off his return flight.
Now back at Toronto Pearson International Airport, Chad took the guitar to the baggage help desk to tell them the story.
“The employee told me that because we waited so long [before reporting the damage], he couldn’t help us,” Walsh said.
“He then gave me a number to call about the damage, but it was a number that took me to a generalized line for lost baggage.”
Thanks Nick, happy we DMed to be told to report it to your baggage damaged department which “recommends you report the damage before leaving the airport.” Super helpful. Can I play the damage report instead of my guitar in LA in front of our label @virginrecords ?? 👍👍 #mybad https://t.co/Jzh9wJo5g2
— The Man Who (@TheManWhoBand) December 10, 2019
Chad once again took to Twitter, to express his frustration with Air Canada’s service.
They gave us this to report the damage, after calling multiple times we’re still unable to file a damage report cuz your system is apparently down. Can someone from @AirCanada please help here. This is pretty silly. You broke our guitar after we spent $5,710.56 on this trip alone https://t.co/oIaoYqo6Xq pic.twitter.com/yJHZyLjtsi
— The Man Who (@TheManWhoBand) December 13, 2019
Air Canada said they were not to blame for the damage
Now after finally being able to file a claim for the damaged guitar, the airline sent the claim back saying that the damage was his fault because he did not loosen the strings before the flight and that air pressure had caused the damage.
The email from Air Canada to Chad explaining their decision read:
“Based on the pictures submitted, the strings on your guitar were not loosened that what caused the neck to snap. We can see on the travel case picture, that your case wasn’t damage.”
Knowing he was correct, Chad took the guitar to a musician tech who confirmed that air pressure could not have caused the damage.
Knowing that the band needs to fly a lot for their work and that Air Canada is their only option sometimes, Chad said he feels helpless.
He said despite his frustration with the airline, he feels worried because he doesn’t have many options to fly with others.
“This whole situation has made us feel pretty helpless, knowing for our line of work we have to fly with our gear. Air Canada pretty much has a monopoly on the airline industry in Canada so we don’t have much choice but to use them,” he said.
“I just want Air Canada to do what’s right here. We need our equipment to make a living and also need to use their services which puts us in a tough situation if there’s no accountability.”
Chad now thinks that things might have been different had he reported the damage right away at LAX.
“It’s more difficult for a person to hold the guitar, look you in the eyes, and say they can’t help you,” he said. “Right now, there’s no accountability.”
Chad is of course right, as airlines will do everything they can to blame the passenger for their ineptitude when it comes to lost or broken luggage.
In the case of Chad’s guitar, would it really hurt them to have bought him a replacement guitar, especially when you consider how often the band flies with Air Canada?
In case you were wondering, The Man Who gets their name from the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote that says “The world makes way for the man who knows where he’s going.”
If you have ever had problems when flying with Air Canada we would love to read about them in the comments section.