American Airlines booted a music student off a plane Thursday, saying her cello was too big—even though she had just taken it on another AA flight and bought seats for it both ways, NBC Chicago reports. "When I flew from Chicago to Miami, I didn't have any trouble with that," says Jingjing Hu, a student at DePaul University School of Music in Chicago. Hu followed federal regulations, obtaining a round-trip seat for the $30,000 instrument and strapping it in with a seatbelt extender, per CBS Chicago. Hu says she even called American Airlines ahead of time to make sure her cello would make it to the Miami music festival where she was performing.
But as the return flight boarded Thursday, a flight attendant came up and said the 737 was too small for her strapped-in cello. Hu deplaned and asked to see the relevant regulations, which said "bass violins/fiddles" aren't allowed on 737's; Hu said her instrument is a cello, but no matter, she was forbidden from taking upcoming 737 flights and given an overnight room at a Holiday Inn. She "cried alone in the lobby" and returned home the next day, says Hu. "She is exhausted but physically OK," her husband Jay Tang writes in a widely shared Facebook post. He also called the experience "humiliating." American Airlines apologized in a statement and blamed the matter on a "miscommunication." (At least the flight attendant didn't freak out.)