There’s Not Always Room for Cello on Delta

René’s Points for Better Travel has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. René’s Points for Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our advertising policy, visit visit this page.
Symphony concert, a man playing the cello, hand close up

(Photo: ©

After allegedly denying a service dog aboard one of its flights, Delta may have barred — a cello?

Cellist and Juilliard graduate Rachel Hanlin Siu apparently flies frequently with her cello. The instrument occupies a seat; checking such a large, fragile item is, understandably, probably far too risky.

Ms. Siu purchases an extra ticket for the cello. The cello’s tickets are probably in her name, and/or amended with the designation of “CBBG,” an abbreviation for “Cabin Baggage.” According to Gregory Beaver’s 2017 Guide to Flying with a Cello, CBBG could also serve as the cello’s first name on the ticket. (Maybe a cellist could save money with the companion passes from a Delta Platinum Amex or Delta Amex Reserve?) No, the cello can’t earn SkyMiles — a different cellist learned that the hard way.

(Would a musical instrument flying by itself be considered an unaccompanied minor? Get it? Get it?)

Well, it sounds like “CBBG” didn’t make it onto the cello’s ticket for a flight — and two seats were reserved under Ms. Siu’s name.

That presented a problem.

She wrote Slipped Disc’s Norman Lebrecht, saying:

I will be participating in the Carlos Prieto competition and I booked my two flight tickets through Delta Airlines about a month or two ago, one for myself, and one for my cello.

I called to make the booking, as per usual when booking for a seat for the cello. I called Delta today to confirm my booking, just to double check that everything would be ok. It seems now there has been a massive problem, where both my tickets were booked under my name, including my cello ticket, without the CBBG abbreviation to notify the airline that the second ticket is for the cello.

I have been on the phone with Delta for two hours. They say they can only refund my tickets and nothing else. My flight was supposed to leave early morning Friday, leaving me to book my tickets for a much much higher price, x2. They don’t even have a flight leaving the days I need, which also means I will be losing money on the hotel I booked, leaving me with no money to actually book these new flights. Can they do this?

Did she not check to see if “CBBG” was originally included on the cello’s ticket? Or was it — and Delta IT accidentally knocked it out (what are the odds?)?

Take a Few Minuets to Make Sure Everything is Correct

I guess the moral of the story is to check your reservations for accuracy immediately after booking — and a few times more prior to your flight.

And if everything was in order and a Delta rep was confused, maybe Ms. Siu should’ve HUCB.

What Are Your Notes?

What do you think happened here?

Cellists, other musicians, or people who purchase tickets for cabin baggage: what tips or insight can you provide into an issue like this? Please tell us in the Comment section below!



  1. A Minuet, or a slow, stately ballroom dance for two in triple time, popular especially in the 18th century, is always effective for checking your itinerary.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *