TORONTO -- A musician says he feels helpless after Air Canada refused to offer a reimbursement for his guitar that was damaged on a flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.

Toronto resident Chad Walsh said he was travelling to Los Angeles on Dec. 8 to perform at a concert the next day. He said he personally brought his guitar to the gate of the flight to ensure that it was kept safe.

He said the guitar was damaged after he gave it to the flight agent who placed it in the underbelly of the plane. Walsh said he only found out when he unzipped his guitar just hours before the concert.

The headstock of the guitar was broken toward the bottom where it meets the neck, he said, and it also had a chip at the top left corner of the headstock. The damages made the guitar unusable, and he had to rent another one. 

“We didn’t check it at the airport because it wasn’t part of our routine, we’ve travelled so much with all our gear but this never happened before,” Walsh told CTV News Toronto Saturday.

“It’s just frustrating because our livelihoods are in the hands of the airline … it’s a helpless feeling.”

guitar broken aircanada

He said he tweeted about the damage, and the airline sent him a direct message asking him to return to the airport in Los Angeles to report the damage.

Walsh said he waited until his return flight the next day and brought the guitar to the damaged baggage department, where he was told he needed to report it in Canada.

Once in Canada, Walsh said he brought the guitar to the baggage help desk and told them what happened.

“The employee told me that because we waited so long [before reporting the damage], he couldn’t help us,” Walsh said.

“He then gave me a number to call about the damage, but it was a number that took me to a generalized line for lost baggage.”

After another set of tweets expressing his frustration, Walsh said the airline responded once again, asking him to fill out and submit a damage claim and photos.

He said the claim came back saying the guitar was damaged because the strings were not loosened and the air pressure on the flight resulted in the damage. 

"Based on the pictures submitted, the strings on your guitar were not loosened that what caused the neck to snap," the airline said in an email to Walsh. "We can see on the travel case picture, that your case wasn't damage."

Walsh said he showed his guitar to a musician tech, who said that it’s not possible for air pressure to cause the damage just because the strings were not loosened. 

He said despite his frustration with the airline, he feels worried because he doesn't have many options to fly with others. 


"This whole situation has made us feel pretty helpless, knowing for our line of work we have to fly with our gear. Air Canada pretty much has a monopoly on the airline industry in Canada so we don’t have much choice but to use them," he said.

"I just want Air Canada to do what's right here. We need our equipment to make a living and also need to use their services which puts us in a tough situation if there's no accountability."

In an email to CTV News Toronto a spokesperson for Air Canada said it deals directly with customers about such issues, and cannot share additional information on the matter. 

Walsh said he now wishes he opened the case at the airport in Los Angeles to have shown the damage in person right away.

“It’s more difficult for a person to hold the guitar, look you in the eyes, and say they can’t help you,” he said. “Right now, there’s no accountability.”

Despite flying with more than $12,000 worth of equipment, Walsh said he plans to always check his gear right after a flight from now.

He said he also plans on using a hard case rather than his soft one from now on, and will continue bringing the guitars directly to the gate.