A musician has said she was prevented from travelling with her cello on a British Airways flight because the instrument apparently needed a visa to travel in the extra seat she had booked for it. Jane Bevan, 35, was attempting to board a flight from Zurich to Baltimore, when she was told at check-in that her cello needed a US ESTA travel visa.
Ms Bevan, who booked her cello in its own seat under the name "Chuck Cello", said she called BA a month before her flight and was told that the second seat followed airline policy.
"When I arrived at the airport I was told by a BA steward there was a problem with the booking," she said.
"I waited for half an hour while she spoke with her supervisor and was then told the check-in for the extra seat could not be completed because the system needed an ESTA visa."
Ms Bevan said she waited in the airport for two-and-a-half hours and ended up missing her flight.
The amateur musician said she did not receive any compensation from BA, and flew out the following day with United Airlines.
“I had no problems with United Airlines,” Ms Bevan said. “The staff were very friendly and even offered to put my cello in first class.
I’ve flown with my cello before using easyJet and Swiss Airways.
"I’m used to the situation being unfamiliar to staff and having to wait for them to speak with their supervisors, but I’ve never experienced anything like this before."
BA said in a statement: "This was a highly unusual incident which arose after the customer booked a seat for her cello as a named passenger.
This is what triggered the requirement for an ESTA from the US government. The ticket the customer booked through a third party website was non-refundable."