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Flying with a Violin


johnny

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That is absolutely ludicrous. A violin in a standard case will most likely NOT survive a trip of any duration in the hold of a plane with the rest of the luggage. One good drop off the cargo vehicle, down a ramp, or smack into a 70 lbs. suitcase and there goes your soundpost/bridge/etc.!

The TSA issued guidelines that permit a musician to carry on a musical instrument within certain size guidelines (and a violin case does qualify) on the plane IN ADDITION to the already specificed carry-ons. I think the letter has already been posted to Maestronet, if you search for it (someone help me out here, I can't remember where it is!).

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It is on the AF of M website (if you are a member), and it seems like I have seen it elsewhere on a number of retailers sites (I just found it on Indie-music.com also--just do a google on tsa musicial instrument). The bottom line is that the TSA released the guidelines that says a musical instrument is allowed as carry-on, but the decision is still made by the flight crew (or the agent at the gate) when you get on the plane--and then, it also depends on the size of the plane. If you are on a puddle-jumper, there probably isn't room for overhead for anything that size. You are allowed to bring it onboard as carry-on, but if your carry-on doesn't fit, it goes below. I have run into this with a viola on Delta before. It is different from Airline to Airline, and probably flightcrew to flightcrew.

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I've never had a problem with my violin getting on board (knock on wood--but not my violin!); I've flown United, Southwest, and ATA in the past year.

However, my friend had a problem getting on a Delta flight with her French horn (she usually puts it under the front seat and deals with the reduced leg room). The flight attendants wanted to make her check it. After initially pleading with them in a warm and civil way without success, she started getting saucy with a "I'm going to throw a hissy fit" look in her eyes and the flight attendants decided to compromise by putting her horn in a closet.

When trying to board, sometimes it helps to attach the shoulder strap of the violin case to the clip on the bottom of the case so that the violin is carried vertically. It makes the thing look a bit smaller.

When I was 10, everyone just smiled at me and let me take my plastic violin case on board. Things sure seemed easier back then...

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It seems to be the luck of the draw, as far as I can tell. My husband was traveling with a chamber ensemble a few months back, and security had no problems with the violin or even the cello, but they balked over a flute. To make matters worse, when they decided to take the flute away for inspection, they started to open the case in mid air upside down. The flute player managed to rescue the case just in time to keep the flute from falling out. So I guess the lesson there is if security decides to take your instrument for inspection, make sure they know which end is up.

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I have never had a problem with anything like this. I have flown almost every Airline as well. My viola isnt small either......

I think Daniel made a good point, things would be easier for me (as I am only 15) then it would for an adult. I dont know if this is just because the flight crew has more sympathy for kids or what.

Now I knwo to never fly Dealta!

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I fly with my fiddle every couple months from New York to Vancouver. The only bad things that have happened with my fiddle are:

1. One ham-handed TSA fellow insisted on sticking a dental mirror into the f-holes to look for, well, whatever.

2. At a small airport, the security crew playfully did not let me pass till I played them a tune, which after 12 hours of traveling I was not in the mood to do. But I did it anyway.

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Wow! Thats crazy, I would be very angry with the TSA employee. I would explain to him that the instrument that he just carelessly shoved a dentists tool into is worth about the equivalt of two years of his salary (even if it wasnt) And that small airport! Wow....what did you play for them?

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Quote:

2. At a small airport, the security crew playfully did not let me pass till I played them a tune, which after 12 hours of traveling I was not in the mood to do. But I did it anyway.


As horrible as that was - it's a bit funnier than you would think. Hoedown at the airport! Too bad they didn't all start dancing.

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I wonder what people with Strads would do if confronted by a screener who shoves a dental mirror down an f-hole, picks up the violin and touches it all over, insists that the strings be removed, or goodness knows what else.

Could the owner refuse to fly to keep the screeners from touching his priceless violin or would he be forced to submit to the procedure? Would the owner even be able to file suit against the TSA for damaging the instrument?

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I'm happy to say that the screener did no apparent damage to my fiddle (not sure of the value...1922 H. E. Heberlein, half-decent box for fiddling but hardly a valuable instrument, execpt to me). However, what if he knocked the soundpost down or something while doing this?

People who don't play violin or fiddle have no idea how fragile these things are.

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Quote:

I wonder what people with Strads would do if confronted by a screener who shoves a dental mirror down an f-hole, picks up the violin and touches it all over, insists that the strings be removed, or goodness knows what else.

Could the owner refuse to fly to keep the screeners from touching his priceless violin or would he be forced to submit to the procedure? Would the owner even be able to file suit against the TSA for damaging the instrument?


I would flat out tell them "No, over my dead body are you going to touch my violin, and I insist upon talking to someone with appriciation for what you are putting me though and for msical instruments.

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Actually, Austin, a friend of my teacher's did just that - she had a double violin case,which they said would not fit in an overhead bin, and they wanted her to put it in baggage, but she stamped her feet and shook her curls and stated unequivocally that she would go into baggage before they put her violin case in there. She won, and her case fit fine. I don't look forward to the first time I travel on a plane with my viola!

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when booking in I sling my violin case over my shoulder around to the back. I always take a case that has to be carried in baggage so I check that in early. Any hassles I've had with taking my violin on board were with cabin crew at the point of getting on the plane. If they get really difficult I tell them that's OK, I'll leave this flight and get another but how do I arrange to get my case out of baggage again? Then they decide it's probably all right for me to take it on board because to identify my case in baggage and remove it with their tight time schedules just isn't worth the cost and hassle to them.

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If I have to travel with my good violin (well over $10,000), I will make sure to take a copy of paper that states the actual value of the instrument. If those airport officials are confronted by a formal paper stating that the instrument is worth, say $100,000, they would probably think twice about mis-handling the instrument.

Chances are that I probably will never have to worry about it, since I hardly ever do air-travel(I dislike flying) and if I do, I will take my "travel" violin, which is worth much less.

T.

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