No broken guitars this time, but
United Airlines loses bags of Nova Scotia's broken-guitar singer

By Staff Writers
CBC News

Sons Of Maxwell singer-songwriter Dave Carroll has become an internet sensation after posting his United Breaks Guitars videos on YouTube. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)
Sons Of Maxwell singer-songwriter Dave Carroll has become an internet sensation after posting his United Breaks Guitars videos on YouTube. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

After famously breaking his guitar, United Airlines has managed to cause further trouble for David Carroll by losing his luggage — just as the Canadian singer-songwriter was en route to deliver a speech about customer service.

RightNow Technologies, a company that creates customer service software, had hired Carroll to deliver a keynote speech this week at its conference in Colorado Springs, about 100 kilometres southeast of Denver.

Departing from Regina on Sunday, "the only direct flight to Denver was with United. So I flew United and my bag got lost," the Nova Scotia singer-songwriter told CBC News by phone on Thursday.

Carroll was delayed at Denver International Airport, where some United staffers ordered him to wait for his luggage — which they said was simply delayed — while an airport official urged him to leave the baggage claim area.

The bag eventually turned up on Wednesday.

"We will fully investigate what regretfully happened," United Airlines spokeswoman Robin Urbanski told the New York Times after the latest incident began making the rounds in U.S. media.

Popular speaker

Since Carroll released the song and online video United Breaks Guitars — which politely but firmly skewers the airline and its baggage handlers for the summer 2008 incident and refusing to pay for the broken instrument — he has been balancing his musical career with speaking engagements about consumer rights.

After his original video went viral (it's now approaching more than six million views online), he released a second video in August. He has spoken to United executives, who promised to improve their service, as well as at an airline passenger rights hearing in Washington.

The third video in his planned trilogy is forthcoming.

"I'm pretty sure I'm done the song — I just finished it last week. The lyrics that I used sort of encompass what happened here this week so I might not have to rewrite it after all," he said.

The campaign's impact means that Carroll, the primary songwriter of folk group Sons of Maxwell, has been elevated to a sort of everyman-hero status.

"I went to Denver in the summertime and this Texas guy said 'Are you the YouTube guy?'" Carroll laughed, as he mimicked the man's Texan accent.

"People have enjoyed it [and] love it a lot. It's been good for my career so I don’t mind talking about it."

October 30, 2009 — Return to cover.
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