A 17th century viola da gamba worth $200,000 has been destroyed during a flight on Italian airline Alitalia.
A 300-year-old viola da gamba, a stringed instrument resembling a cello, sustained severe damage after after an Alitalia flight from Rio de Janeiro.
Upon checking-in at Rio de Janeiro–Galeão International Airport, Ms Herzog, the owner of the instrument, claims that she tried to pay for a seat for the viola, but was told that it would have to go in the hold as the plane was “super full”.
Ms Herzog said the damage occurred despite the airline assuring her that the case would be “taken by hand into the plane and out of it.”
She posted the photos of the damaged instrument to Facebook, along with the message: “Alitalia hates musicians … this is how Alitalia delivered to me my original 17th century Lewis viola da gamba … it was savagely vandalized.”
The Facebook post has received hundreds of comments and been shared over 55,000 times.
One commenter pointed out that airline may not be directly responsible, saying: “Probably the airport operators where you have landed are guilty, not Alitalia.”
Alitalia issued the following statement:
“We regret what happened with Mrs. Myrna Herzog and we are carrying out all necessary investigations.
“However, generally speaking, we would like to remind that for all bags exceeding the size limits allowed for cabin bags (8kg and 55 cm high, 35 cm wide and 25 cm deep), such as the musical instrument mentioned, it is necessary to purchase an ‘extra seat’ during the booking procedure in case the passenger intends to avoid checking-in such delicate and/or valuable items. The extra seat, which is normally dedicated to passengers, allows to secure the item with the appropriate procedure.
“According to a preliminary investigation, no such request has been presented by the passenger neither during booking nor at the time of departure from Rio de Janeiro. During check-in operations, according to the information available at the moment, the passenger was presented with the possibility to buy an ‘extra seat’ but she refused and signed the limited release form (a disclaimer of liability) after being informed that the best solution for such a delicate item was to bring it with her in the cabin.”