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United Faces Another Passenger Lawsuit After Trying to Wrestle Away Yennifer Correia’s 400-Year Old Violin

— June 8, 2017

United Airlines found itself fighting a row with a young musician earlier in the week – not over baggage limits or carry-on fees, but for refusing to let Yennifer Correia take a 17th-century violin onto a plane.

On her way from Houston to play with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra, Correia was startled when a gate agent told her she wouldn’t be allowed to bring in the instrument onboard. Saying it cost more than her car, Correia asked, “What are my other options?”

The Washington Post, in an article about the incident, recounts horror stories of priceless violins and cellos being snapped in half by careless baggage handlers and impatient airline officials.

Examples include a $45,000 cello broken at the neck after being stored underneath a sack of golf clubs, as well as a German soloist finding a $20,000 bow cleaved in two once he inspected it at arrivals.

The drama which unfolded between Correia has her attorneys comparing the incident to United’s manhandling of passenger David Dao, who was dragged off an overbooked flight after refusing to give his seat to the company’s employees.

Footage of United passenger David Dao being dragged off a flight after refusing to deboard.

According to the Post’s rendition of Correia’s recounting, the musician asked to speak with an airport supervisor after being told checking the violin was her only option.

“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,” Phil MacNaughton, Correia’s lawyer, repeated.

With a brewing altercation growing more intense, Correia asked for the supervisor’s name so she could appeal to his superiors.

Instead of giving in or trying to ease the concerns of a worried customer, the supervisor purportedly asked for Correia’s name, ‘lunging’ at her luggage to grab hold of a tag.

When the violinist reached out to protect her priceless instrument, a fight almost broke out.

“Without provocation, the supervisor for the Chicago-based carrier then lunged for Ms. Correia’s case and, incredibly, tried to wrestle it away from the musician,” wrote MacNaughton in a statement.

Correia’s hand was hurt in the encounter – while not a major injury, the possibility of any damage was troubling to the musician, considering her career and circumstances of the tussle.

United has yet to offer any sort of formal apology, although a spokesperson did issue condolences (while stopping short of saying ‘sorry’). MacNaughton says another airline official left Correia a voicemail.

“Why can’t these people be polite?” the attorney asked. “I’m sure that’s what their CEO is wondering. It’s kind of like everybody knows if you’re frustrated with your surgeon, you don’t grab their hands. This [supervisor] was willing to get in a wrestling match over a violin.”

The Post points out that musicians are accommodated by a federal law which makes it easier, at least in theory, for them to take their instruments onboard a plane and into the cabin as carry-on. MacNaughton said he’s not sure whether United violated that law.

Ultimately, Correia booked another flight to Missouri with American Airlines, who let her carry the violin the whole time.


An airline tried to get a musician to check her 17th-century violin. A ‘wrestling match’ ensued.

Musician claims United supervisor attempted to take her violin during check-in

Musician headed to Missouri scuffles with United Airlines staff over violin

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