I lived in Paris for almost 20 years until 2011, and was there when this tragedy happened. I simply could not believe that the French (government) would actually try to put the blame on Continental, even though I had long been 'used' to their propensity to the buck and blame everyone else but themselves. I mean, even my French friends (the 'people') thought it utterly ridiculous - for example, what if the 'guilty' debris had actually fallen off another AF plane instead of Continental???!!
By the way, a cellist traveling with his/her cello must buy a separate ticket for the instrument, if it is to remain next to him/her instead of being shipped as checked luggage (where the cold temperatures in cargo will ruin it instantly). Since a cello with a fiberglass case weighs less than 35 kg / 77 lb, I fail to see why an 'overflowing' passenger shouldn't pay for the neighboring seat, too!
Actually I saw this happen on a BA flight from Munich to London in 2000! As I got in line to check in, I saw that I was right behind 4 American family members (parents, teenage daughter and her aunt) who were all HUGE. I started to panic as I knew that if I got put next to any of them, it was going to squeeze all the air out of my lungs - whereas I had a rehearsal that same evening in London for a voice recital the next day! Lo and behold, as we moved up to the counter, three of them were assigned in a row together. I started to pray that I'd be spared being next to the aunt, only to hear the husband ask the check-in agent to seat ALL of them separately. Whereby I was suddenly drenched in cold sweat. But guess what? The agent replied, I'm sorry but your seats are... pre-assigned and can't be changed!!!!! From there I breezed through check-in and boarding, not looking once to see how that family dealt with the ordeal that they had been intent on imposing on at least four other passengers