RSPBA adjudicator Jennifer Hutcheon featured in a story in Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper this morning after she was escorted from a flight for refusing to put her pipes in the hold. Jennifer is pictured above piping at another memorial service. The paper reported:
‘A Scots pensioner was thrown off a flight — for refusing to place her bagpipes in the plane’s hold. World champion piper Jennifer Hutcheon was frogmarched across the airport building by armed police officers and soldiers after falling foul of Ryanair staff.
‘The 67-year-old was returning from Belgium after playing a lament at the grave of her grandfather, 100 years to the day after his death in World War I. But the emotional pilgrimage was ruined by her traumatic incident at Charleroi Airport as Jennifer tried to carry her pipes on board a plane as hand luggage. After being barred from the flight, she was forced to sleep in the airport overnight before finally catching a flight home the next day.
Jennifer, from Bridge of Earn near Perth, said yesterday: ‘I couldn’t believe what was happening to me. The local crew member completely went overboard when I refused to let him take my bagpipes and I removed a sticker he put on my bag – he turned into Bonaparte.
‘The next thing is that two police officers and two soldiers with big guns are telling me to leave the queue and they marched me across the airport to some offices. I was then led out to an exit and told to go on my way.”
‘Jennifer, an adjudicator for the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association, said trouble flared last Monday when Ryanair staff started choosing passengers’ bags to go in the hold, because there were too many suitcases for the cabin. The pipes are priceless to her and she was concerned they would be damaged. She was transporting them in a small suitcase that comfortably met Ryanair’s strict sizing policy.
‘Yet when she tried to explain the situation to the staff member, she claims he ‘completely refused to listen to what I had to say’ and called in the airport’s armed response team. After her ordeal, Jennifer was forced to spend a night in the airport with a friend.
‘The pair flew home the next morning on new one-way tickets that cost her a total of £472.33. Ironically, her eventual flight home was also with Ryanair – and Jennifer was able to take her pipes on board as hand luggage without any problems. She said the cabin staff ‘couldn’t have been nicer’ on that occasion.
‘Jennifer travelled to Belgium to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of her grandad James High-Spence, who was killed by a stray German shell close to Ypres aged just 25.’