Musician accuses airline of damaging Instrument
N'Faly Kouyate says that his specially made electric kora (African Harp). The harp was made so he could carry it on as hand luggage and can be stored in the over headlockers.
Because the Harp was damaged on a British Airways and cant be played he wants British Airways to pay for it to be repaired or replaced. British Airways is investigating what happened.
Kouyate was on his way back to Brussels from Heathrow Airport in London After playing at the Afro Celt Sound System with the band in Dorset.
Staff had agreed that the bag wooden instrument was hand luggage. The instrument measures about 80cm x 20cm x 20cm and weighed 6kg and he was given a label for it.
When he got to the departure gate he was told it had to go in the hold he tried to explain how fragile the 22-string instrument was but it came to no avail.
Kouyate has said "I told her I had been allowed to take it as hand luggage two days earlier on the BA flight from Brussels to London. I said that it was the first time since I'd got the instrument about 18 months ago that an airline had refused to allow me to take it as hand luggage, but she said the law had changed. She said that if I refused to hand it over, I could be prevented from boarding the flight,"
Kouyate eventually agreed as he had to travel to Guinea, in West Africa where his parents' graves were being moved to make way for a new road in two days.
When Kouyate had got to Brussels and Collected his Kora after being told his instrument would be handled with care as hold luggage and corresponding labels were put on its soft case. He found his kora bridge and saddle were broken and the body had been damaged.
Kouyate's colleague had contacted an instrument maker in France but he and his college Simon Emmerson from the Afro Celt Sound System believed the Kora could not be repaired. He said it had cost about £4,500.
The Musicians' Union said: "We regularly hear from musicians who have encountered problems at the check-in desk or when carrying instruments onto a plane. Airline staff often seem to apply their own discretion, regardless of an airline's official policy."
The British Airways have told Kouyate "Our colleagues take great care with our customers' luggage, so we're very sorry to hear about this. We are investigating this as a matter of urgency, and our customer relations team will be in contact with Mr Kouyate to help resolve the issue."