Jennifer Makes the National News After Altercation with Airline

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.’


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3 thoughts on “Jennifer Makes the National News After Altercation with Airline”

  1. This incident with airlines is a growing one. They’re concern is with their bottomline, and don’t care at all about anything else. Their personnel are in capable of thinking for themselves and if anything occurs “out side the box” their people resort to the party line – “I’m sorry it must go into the baggage hold.”
    The instrument allowance is also beginning used as a way to make passengers pay outrageous baggage fees. Those of us just trying to make it from point a to a competition or recital are left to either pay or not travel. The airlines know this! Most of us are doing all we can to make it to events or competitions, saving every penny, looking for inexpensive lodging, etc. Absolutely frustrating to hear about this incident. Laughable that they escorted her with armed soldiers! After all, you would expect that if she made it to a gate, her pipes had been passed through an x-ray machine or inspected by hand! All this after following the airlines guodance and ensuring that her carry on met the requirements – Frustrating!

    My wife and I flew on EasyJet from Luton to Glasgow only three weeks ago and were told the same! “The bags had to go into hold.” Theu tagged the bsgs and told us to place them in to cart before boarding the plane. As we left area I ripped the tags off the carry on and we boarded the plane as though we owned it. Turned out the flight was fairly empty and the overhead bins were mostly empty!

    So much for the airlines musical instrument policy!

    Good luck to those traveling to the World’s!

  2. Ryan Air you should be ashamed of yourself and your staff and Jennifer should be given an apology and her money back. Pipes are expensive instruments and they would not be handled with care by the baggage handlers. I would not put my pipes in the hold either.

  3. Asolutely agree and more than monetary value, bagpipes like Jennifer’s are often very special to the piper and historically important as they are passed down the generations. Bagpipes don’t go in aeroplane holds full stop!

    It is a shame Ryanair let itself down like this and yes, a full refund for this lady and an apology would be the right thing to do.

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