"United Breaks Guitars" and inspires country song

I recently came across a country singer's airline-related story of woe on United Airlines (thanks to Alex for the heads up). Dave Carroll was flying from Halifax to Omaha on United Airlines, with a stopover in Chicago, when his guitar was damaged (full story here):
In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn’t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world.
Frustrated with United customer service, Carroll found a creative way to try to get even with the airline: write a song. Called "United Breaks Guitars," the catchy, country-sounding song details his experience. Of course, I'd like to point out that his troubles could have been prevented had he carried his precious guitar with him on board the aircraft - I'm pretty sure that this is possible, having seen passengers carrying guitars on board planes in the past. Nevertheless, it makes for enjoyable watching (and listening).


Anonymous said...

Are you 100% sure that all airlines allow you to carry on a large item like a guitar?

Anonymous said...

When will the airlines open their eyes? If they are looking for free PR, it is a negative way to get it. Get higher up in the bleachers and take a look at the playing field. Was it worth $3500 United?

dpb said...

If I have anything worth over $500 I carry it on with me. I surely wouldn't check a guitar. And really if it was broken by the time it got onto the plane, how is it United's fault?

Anyhow, interesting way to making a song!

Thomas Luly said...

UAL's baggage policy (http://www.united.com/page/article/0,6722,1037,00.html) states that it is not liable for "damage to fragile items, spoilage of perishables, loss/damage/delay of money, jewelry, cameras, electronic/video/photographic equipment, computer equipment, heirlooms, antiques, artwork, silverware, precious metals, negotiable papers/securities, commercial effects, valuable papers, or other irreplaceable items and/or any item where a liability release was signed by the passenger." But as far as I know, he didn't sign a release.

Argordon said...

Hi, I live in Halifax, NS where the band is from. First, sorry, but the policy here has been that baggage of that size is not allowed inside the cabin and must be checked (the flight was a smaller aircraft I understand, and that may also have been a factor).

Further,...what kind of corporate statement is it to say... we bear no responsibility for damage... There is some element of trust involved. If you are performing your duties with proper diligence then there is some argument to defend yourself...but, come on.... this customer complained, with witnesses, about mis-handled luggage. There should not even be a WHISPER of the 'liability release' form - to start talking about it adds insult. In fact, the whole premise of that just highlights the attitude problem customers are picking up on... the..'We assume no responsibility for getting you there in one piece.' mentality. Sheesh,... what has happened to service?

United Breaks Guitars said...

I like Caroll's message and the video


FYI: to change the size of that embedded you tube video you just need to edit the size ratios when posting it.


look through the embed code stuff.

find everything that says height= and width=. Change the size of the video IN RATIO so that it doesn't screw up the player.

Hope this helps,

UBG Evil Ferret


Anonymous said...

Just like the airline...blame the victim...

You must live under a rock....as a musician making a living on tour he likely has 3, 4, 5 or more guitars...was he supposed to carry them all on board...along with the drum kit, electric piano and speakers and amps...

Give your head a shake.

Anonymous said...

try getting a better case with more padding.

memyself said...

As a retired airline employee, I am galled by the public responses so far on this blog. For Pete's sake, those employees were seen tossing the guitar around! I smiled when I heard about this song. This airline, and any other airline that would be so irresponsible, should be publically shamed. Good for you! I personally would try to avoid taking a trip with United after this and spread the story to anyone else that I hear is booking a trip. Now, wouldn't it be great if this case went to court and the judge has them reimburse him for the guitar and whatever inconvenience this caused, but that they would have to create a song for You Tube that apologizes to him. :-)

Anonymous said...

Say hello to "John Tague" (Stink Boy)
he is the President of United Airlines,
after hearing the song I will
never fly United & I will tell my
friends never to fly United.
"Some people know the price of every 
and the value of nothing" 
(good hook for tune #3) and
Stink Boy (John Tague) is to stupid
to realize the value of the Internet
& that this is going to cost him more
than $900.00 in buisiness.
"A fish stinks from the head down"
from "Stink Boy" to "Ms. Irlweg"  
(the stupid slut that blew me cross eyed)
& of course to ape boy 
that fat jelous airport
monkey that has nothing
better to do than to throw 
instruments of someones expression 
(I hope it wasn't my little blond Taylor
I had to put up for adoption some years back)
So "Stink Boy" this finger's for you
(middle one) 
and a three stooges peace
sign to you  (right in your dim 
wit eye's "Boink#*%#") "scumbag"
For a good hard look at "Stink Boy" 
(if you can hold your grits) 
look up images on Google of
"John Tague" President of United Airlines (Utube won't post links)
"Big stupid Fat Ass" that is only good at hoarding money!!