American Has Its ‘United Breaks Guitars Moment’ Mishandling Musician’s Banjo

We all know what happened when musician Dave Carroll checked his guitar on a United flight.

You’d expect that to serve as a cautionary tale for musicians everywhere. Perhaps it did and is the reason why Michael Bont of Greensky Bluegrass flew American.

That didn’t work out well for him. But as they say you should see the other guy. Here’s what happened to his banjo:

It’s plausible I suppose that American’s baggage handlers just don’t like that Greensky Bluegrass isn’t exactly ‘traditional’ bluegrass.

For anyone considering traveling with a banjo in the future, some guy put together the Definitive Guide to Flying With a Banjo.

Greenksy Bluegrass at the 8×10 Club in Baltimore, By Mr.schultz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

(HT: S.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Any Chance the bango was mislabeled with Dr Dao’s name instead?
    Perhaps the airline wanted to one up United?
    Rumors has it when he returns to the stage he is going to open with a bluegrass remake version of United Breaks Guitars inserting Americans name and have the biggest hit of his career
    I’ve already stopped fly American over saver award availability
    They are crooks their currency means little to me as they killed their once golden goose

  2. Earlier this week, I watched a young man board an American flight (operated by Mesa Airlines subsidiary) carrying his guitar case. Several minutes later, I watched him return to the front of the plane and relinquish his instrument. It was tagged and gate checked. I then watched the case being handed off to the baggage handler on the tarmac, who threw it on to the cart on the bottom wire shelf. As a musician myself, I winced as it landed. To the handlers credit, he threw the rest of the gate checked bags onto the second and top shelves, then the cart was wheeled out of my view (in row 2 in first class) to be gently (?) nestled in the cargo hold. I pray the young man’s guitar arrived unscathed.

  3. So United breaks guitars, and American breaks banjos – but we’ll totally be able to trust them to handle expensive forceably-checked electronics with tender, loving care!

    Let’s face it, right now the only thing safe in the baggage hold is clothes, and that’s a problem. Air travelers can’t afford the time or the cost to Fed Ex fragile valuables every time they fly. The airlines need a better system for handling high-value, fragile cargo (including live animals).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *