John Kaboff, 46, is a professional musician from Vienna, Virginia, who has taken his $100,000 cello with him at least 40 times on his travels – each time flying with American Airlines. However he recently boarded a plane to fly from Arlington, Virginia to Chicago when he encountered a problem.

Musician told to get off the plane or be removed

Kaboff told ABC7 he was sitting in his seat, with the cello perched next to him, when a flight attendant asked him to leave. The flight crew member told him the cello was not allowed on that particular plane.

Flight crew said he must either leave the plane voluntarily, or he would be removed from the flight. They then showed him a handheld computer, on which it said a bass fiddle was not allowed on the 737 jet. Kaboff tried to tell them it was a cello, but the pilot said he had “made his decision.” According to Kaboff, he was mortified to be removed from a flight, just like he was a criminal.

Kaboff said he was told the cello was not approved for flight travel as it would touch the floor and because it couldn’t be strapped in, it posed a safety risk. Reportedly he asked the flight crew for a seat belt extension to cradle the musical instrument, but this was denied him.

Kaboff said he has been a Professional Musician for 25 years and has taken his cello on American Airlines at least 40 times. He has had this problem with the airline only once before, around 12 years ago.

Kaboff was booked on the next flight out

According to WJLA, once Kaboff was off the plane the gate agent and ground personnel told him someone had made an error and they apologized to him on behalf of the airline.

They booked the musician on the next American Airlines flight to Chicago which was, by coincidence, also a 737. They will reportedly be refunding the $150 he paid for the extra seat for his cello.

ABC7 contacted a spokesperson for American Airlines who explained that passengers can bring musical instruments like the cello on board their flights, as long as they match seat size restrictions.

They further said the weight of the instrument must be no more than 165 pounds. According to Kaboff, the cello case – complete with the instrument – weighs approximately 70 pounds and is around four feet in length.

After being humiliated in front of 150 passengers for no good reason, Kaboff hopes the flight staff will get better training in future so that no one else has to go through what he had to endure.