Musicians stranded at Basel airport following booking problems give impromptu performance

Six cellists returning from Switzerland to the UK following a concert were met with all-too-familiar booking problems while trying to check in.

Peter Gregson, Gabriella Swallow, Ashok Klouda, Adrian Bradbury, Ben Chappell and Tim Lowe had performed together in the Bern last night, Friday 11 October, for Gregson’s ‘Bach Recomposed’ project.

Gabriella Swallow told The Strad that although the bookings were all made at the same time, there was a hint that something was awry on the outbound flight as well: ‘On the way out, four out of six had no problems and essentially they had to overwrite the system to get myself and Ashok Klouda on the flight.’

On the return, however, without the benefit of dedicated British Airways staff at Basel airport, the problem proved insurmountable.

‘We left at 4am today for our flight home, arrived at the airport at 5.15 in plenty of time for the 7.20 flight,’ Swallow explained.

‘All of us this time had the same “computer says no” issues but the workers here at Basel Airport don’t work directly for BA, and despite doing their best so struggled to resolve things. Ashok and I weren’t allowed on the flight as they said ours was a different issue.’

In the end, four cellists were allowed to travel, with Swallow and Klouda rebooked onto a later flight, spending over seven hours at the aiport and missing work and family commitments.