Lynn Harrell, cellist extraordinaire, is going to be performing the Haydn C Major concerto this week with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos. Since he makes his home in Santa Monica, he’ll probably be driving, not flying, to rehearsals and performances. This makes for easy and non-controversial transportation for him and his cello — in stark contrast to his recent experiences with Delta Airlines.
According to Mr. Harrell’s recent blog post, Delta recently cancelled his SkyMiles frequent flyer account. Why?
Like most professional cellists, Mr. Harrell buys an extra seat for his instrument when he flies – would you trust any airline enough to check a Strad or Montagnana? For decades, both he and his cello have each received their own frequent flyer miles. Seems reasonable considering that he’s paying good money for both seats.
Unfortunately, this is actually against the Delta’s rules:
- “Per the terms and conditions of the SkyMiles program, mileage credit is not awarded for tickets purchased for musical instruments.”
In punishment for the decades long transgressions, Delta cancelled not only Mr. Cello’s SkyMiles account but that of Mr. Harrell too.
Mr. Harrell’s blog post includes a scan of the letter Delta sent notifying him of their decision. A comment to his post by “Katherine” points out how Delta’s latest ad ironically shows a cellist at a ticket counter while the voice-over later talks about “not letting the rules overrule common sense,” all while a cello plays in the background (UPDATE Dec 4, 2013: It looks like Delta has pulled the ad, titled “Line,” from YouTube. The previous link, HERE, now lists the video as “private.” However, one intrepid blogger managed to get a screenshot of the scene in question before the video was pulled — click HERE to see the picture).
As a Delta “Gold Medallion” frequent flyer myself, I was very disappointed in the airline when I heard about this. I hope someone at the airline comes to their senses and fixes this ridiculous situation and PR snafu, and gives Mr. Harrell his miles and account back. In fact, they should probably give him Platinum or Diamond status to boot.
As an aside, I happened to recall a relevant Delta video myself — the in-flight safety video where the flight attendant famously wags her finger (if you want to see the finger wag as originally intended, click HERE) . From now on when I think of this, I’ll imagine her saying, “SkyMiles for cellos are NOT ALLOWED on any Delta flight.”