Date
25 March 2017
Members of a symphony orchestra found two trombones (inset) damaged after a recent Dragonair flight, prompting questions over the carrier's baggage handling policies. Photos: Bloomberg, Apple Daily
Members of a symphony orchestra found two trombones (inset) damaged after a recent Dragonair flight, prompting questions over the carrier's baggage handling policies. Photos: Bloomberg, Apple Daily

Dragonair under fire over ‘oversize’ musical instruments

A Hong Kong-born orchestra conductor has slammed Hong Kong Dragon Airlines (Dragonair) over problems related to the carriage of musical instruments on a recent flight, and sought compensation from the carrier.

Mak Ka-lok, founder of the Global Symphony Orchestra, alleged that Dragonair refused to allow some trombones to be carried as carry-on items despite a prior understanding with the airline for such facility.  

Due to non-cooperation of the check-in staff, musicians had to put the trombones as check-in luggage, leading to damage to some valuable instruments, he said.     

Mak demanded an apology and compensation from Dragonair, saying the carrier went against international practices and showed disrespect to musicians, Apple Daily reported.

The problems began on Jan. 4 when the conductor and 36 members of his symphony orchestra took a Dragonair flight to Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, to perform in a local musical festival.

Instruments like violins, clarinets, oboes and trombones were sought to taken as cabin baggage.

However, airport counter staff required three trombones to be checked in, saying the instrument boxes were oversize.

Staff raised objections even though the carrier had been informed in advance about the dimensions of the items and had agreed to let them be taken as carry-on baggage, according to Mak. 

The musicians then said they would be willing to pay extra for the privilege of carrying the items as cabin baggage, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.

Hence, the instruments had to be checked in as regular baggage, causing worry for the musicians.

Fortunately, all the items arrived in Wenzhou without any damage.

However, the situation was not the same when the group was making the return journey to Hong Kong.

On Jan. 7, the musicians were made to check in the items again, but this time two trombones were found damaged after the flight.

The repair costs are estimated to be more than HK$40,000 (US$5,140).

Responding to the complaint, Dragonair apologized for the inconvenience caused to the passengers and said that that it will look into what caused the damage to the trombones.

Mak said the case, as well as recent incidents involving carriage of musical instruments on MTR trains, shows how ridiculous Hong Kong’s transport policies are.

In September last year a music student from Hong Kong Baptist University was warned and evicted by MTR because he was carrying a cello that the rail operator said was oversized.

- Contact us at [email protected]

TL/AC/RC

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe