Irish Ukulele Hooley: going with a group

Subtitle: how to plan a group trip to the next Irish ukulele festival

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United breaks guitars and guitar cases

United breaks guitars — sound familiar? United Airlines broke a guitar case. Another tune? Another rhyme?

If music performance is your livelihood, you cannot afford to compromise on your instrument. Airlines are obliged to provide safe travel for you and your luggage. If the airline does not allow you to carry on your instrument, it has an obligation to return your possession intact. If your instrument case gets damaged, you cannot depend on the case to protect or carry your instrument.


Dutch guitarist Robert Bekkers returned from his 3-week solo tour with a cracked guitar case. It got damaged on the United Airlines UA1108 flight from Phoenix (dep. 2:55 pm) to Honolulu (6:49 pm HST) on 28th February 2011.

Why does it sound familiar? I have have never had a problem with United Airlines. But I have heard of a famous song about “United breaking guitars.” In fact, just googling those three words led me to Dave Carroll’s web page about the trilogy. There you can play the song that made him famous and United Airlines infamous. The three videos are cleverly done, the tune is sticky  — even I find myself humming it when I think of United Airlines. It’s a David vs Goliath story that has made headlines.

I asked Bekkers why he hasn’t complained. He said that he had enquired as soon as he landed in Honolulu and saw the damage but there was not enough time to walk to the other terminal (to the United Airlines desk) before catching his connecting flight to Maui. Once in Kahului Airport, he discovered it was too late to report the damage. The next day he called and e-mailed to find out how to make a complaint. Three weeks later, he still has not heard anything.

Tomorrow (Thursday 24th March 2011) Bekkers catches the “red-eye” to Phoenix. Because of the cracked guitar case, he will have to keep it next to him at all times. No tape or rope will undo the cracks. Next week he flies to London and Amsterdam. Will the cracked guitar case save his Jeroen Hilhorst 2005 concert guitar from damage? No one knows. But he is not flying United.

What can we conclude from this? United continues to break guitars?  No, United now has moved on to breaking guitar cases.