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Bonus TGIF: United breaks guitars July 10, 2009

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Fun stuff, TGIF.

I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet, but this is a very catchy tune. It’s gotten 900,000 hits on YouTube since it was uploaded on July 6. I saw it a couple days ago and can’t get the song out of my head (in German we call it an Ohrwurm).  As Dave Carroll explains:

In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say no to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.

The video was shot in 12 hours with friends dressed up as flight attendants and musicians. Volunteer firemen played the baggage handlers who are shown playing catch with the guitar case and tossing it like a hammer throw. Since the clip started generating publicity online, his schedule has been packed with interviews and requests for the band to perform. Taylor Guitars in California called him and offered to see if it could repair the damaged guitar. They also promised him a discount on his next purchase. And now the happy ending – United has since bought the video from him (hopefully for lots more money than the initial claim) and will be using it “for training purposes to ensure all customers receive better service from us.”

Since we travel more than most average citizens I’m sure you have all experienced luggage hassles. I remember being forced to check my soft-sided carry-on, which contained a six-pack of Radeberger beer for my Dad, in Frankfurt. They slapped a Fragile sticker on it, and it made it safe through Chicago. But when it got thrown onto the luggage carousel in Cleveland I saw a shadow forming around it. Yes, the bottles had shattered – and the suitcase still faintly smells of beer nine years later. Feel free to share your luggage horror stories in the Comments.



1. Tom Ellett - July 10, 2009

Moving from Scotland to Canada with a cat two years ago was a very trying experience for both us and the cat. My wife must have spent at least five hours on the phone yelling at Air Canada’s clueless Indian call centre in an attempt to get the cat on the same flight as us. Eventually, she resorted to calling the CEO’s office in Montreal. At the time, Air Canada was not allowing pets to travel in the cabin (a policy recently reversed), so the poor beast was relegated to the cargo hold. On arrival in Toronto, we eventually found Sammy cowering in a broken carrier in a small room off the baggage hall, along with various backpacks and musical instruments. It’s probably fortunate that she was so traumatized; otherwise, she might easily have escaped through the hole in the carrier or injured herself on the sharp broken plastic edge.

2. jillsommer - July 10, 2009

Oh, that’s terrible, Tom! I hope your cat has gotten over the trauma. This is why I won’t travel with my dog, as much as I would like to.

3. Diana - July 11, 2009

Jill, thanks for posting. This sweet song of revenge made my day!

4. Anne - July 14, 2009

This video is great! I’d seen it before, but hadn’t heard the whole story.

Thanks for sharing!

Customer service is always important (I can’t imagine that a freelancer would survive long without good customer service), but it takes on a whole new dimension in today’s world of facebook, youtube, twitter, and etc.

I’ve had remarkably few luggage issues with airlines, but that’s partly because I have no faith in them and pack very carefully. However, I have been teased about my carry-on luggage by security and I think it’s extremely unprofessional to make comments on the personal belongings that they get to go through for the sake of safety.

For example-I was moving from one country to another and had all my computer gear (laptop, not desktop) in my carry-on. I’m sure the security guard thought I was just going on vacation and teased me for the amount of electronics in my bag… Not a big deal, but not his place and not the only time I’ve been hassled by security.

5. ninyadelrey - July 14, 2009

I had 1 shoe fall out of my suitcase on an overseas flight one time… it stunk because the pair was only a few weeks old and (clearly) useless with only 1/2!
On the flip side, the shoe was lost because my bag broke. Not completely unusable, but definitely quite damaged. They couldn’t fix/replace it in the week I was overseas, but when I returned State-side, they sent me home with a brand new set that included both a regular and a carry-on sized case, as well as my original (since it was full of all my stuff!).
You could say the $30 pair of shoes turned into easily $300 worth of suitcases – not a bad trade, I suppose!

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