Lynn Harrell, the international cello master who lives in Santa Monica, always buys a separate seat for his instrument on Delta flights. He's been accruing frequent flier miles for "Mr. Cello" all this time, but Delta sent him a letter earlier this year terminating him from the program — and stripping all his miles — citing a warning in 2001 that seats occupied by musical instruments were not eligible for frequent flier miles.
An ArtsJournal blog wrote about Harrell's situation last month, and this week it hit the copycat media: stories on ABC, NBC, NPR, MSN and more. On Monday, Harrell explained on his own blog in a post entitled No Miles For You! Sample:
Rejection is a powerful feeling and one we have all experienced in one form or another but I have to say that I was dumbfounded when I received a Dear John letter from Delta Airlines at the beginning of 2012. Like most rejection letters, it started off with such a polite tone I thought it was going to be good news but it turned ugly in short order and by the end, it seemed as though they were trying to make me feel like some sort of master criminal. And it seems my offense was nothing more than accruing miles for the full fare tickets purchased for my cello....
I have to admit part of me sees the irony for being punished by an airline for innocently buying two full fare tickets for each trip, but to have them administer corporate justice 11 years after the fact is just plain mean.
Harrell suspects that Delta wants to re-sell his miles: "I am sorry and perplexed that airlines like Delta are willing to turn down the opportunity to maintain long time customers and income (my career has been in full swing for more than 40 years!) for nothing more than the ability to make a quick one-off buck now by selling my miles."