A cello that’s been tunefully earning frequent flier miles for 11 years won’t be getting any more free flights.
Its owner, professional cellist Lynn Harrell, was notified that his – and his cello’s – Delta Airlines SkyMiles frequent flier accounts had been cancelled earlier this year in a letter from the airline.
This, despite the fact that Harrell always purchased the cello its own seat.
Harrell’s blog describes him as “a 67 year old solo cellist who has been touring the world for the last 40 years playing almost everywhere of note in the classical music scene alongside many of the greatest musicians.”
In a post on his blog, LynnHarrell.com, Harrell writes:
“One of the realities of a career as a cello soloist is lots of flying and since trusting airlines with a multi-million dollar instrument as checked baggage is enough to trigger a fight-or-flight response, cellists have to suck it up and simply buy a second ticket for the instrument. After all, it’s not as though you can simply borrow the local Stradivari or Montagnana! Over the course of my entire career, I’ve been building miles under the cello’s account and in turn, those miles help reduce the costs of flights for the cello in future trips.
All of this helps keep my fees under control and ultimately passes along lower ticket prices to those buying concert tickets.”
In an email to ABC News, Harrell said, ”I’m deeply distressed that not only my cello was penalized but they decided to penalize me as well. It feels somewhat like guilt by association.”
Harrell included in his post a copy of the letter he received from Delta Airlines. It reads, in part, “During a recent review, it has come to our attention that you have continued to earn miles for your cello even after you were advised in 2001 that this was not permitted. Per the terms and conditions of the SkyMiles program, mileage credit is not awarded for tickets purchased for musical instruments.
Harrell said on his blog that there was no 2001 warning.
The termination of the SkyMiles account means the loss of all accumulated miles, loss of benefits and cancellation of any awards or awards certificate, according to the letter. In addition, members who have had accounts terminated for any reason may not reopen new accounts.
Harrell said he will from now on fly on airlines that do allow his cello to accumulate mileage.
Delta Airlines did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.