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Violin case


joerobson
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I have a lot of traveling to do this year which includes a nice, small, double violin case. I have been told that the airlines [domestic US? International?] do not consider a small instrument case to be a carry-on. I would like to get away with my computer bag, carry-on and a violin case....no checked baggage....

Anyone have experience with this?

Thanks.

Joe

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I have a lot of traveling to do this year which includes a nice, small, double violin case. I have been told that the airlines [domestic US? International?] do not consider a small instrument case to be a carry-on. I would like to get away with my computer bag, carry-on and a violin case....no checked baggage....

Anyone have experience with this?

Thanks.

Joe

I've always been able to take my violin as carry on, but with an extra bag and a laptop, they may have something to say about that. A word of warning - security can get really upset over violin strings. Apparently they think strings make good strangling devices. One time they made me check my spare strings into the cargo hold with my other luggage. When I asked why there was no concern over the strings still on the violin, they said "Oh, they're much more difficult to remove in flight."

I would perhaps inquire with your particular airport security beforehand.

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Technically, a normal single violin case is too long to be allowed as a carry-on item. (By "normal," I mean any case that will also take a bow. Some case makers offer a shorter case with a detachable bow tube that does meet carry-on size limits.) In practice, I have always managed to carry on my normal single case. A double case is likely to attract more scrutiny. TSA rules specifically permit a musical instrument in addition to the usual carry-on suitcase and personal item, but this permission does not waive the size limits.

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At the Wilmington VSA I bought from Bobelock their 1007 violin shaped case. The sales rep said this one never had any trouble being carried on to a plane. He explained that I had to use the smallest case for a carry-on. He was right.

I have taken violins on trips from Newark, NJ to Tucson, AZ and Newark, NJ to Portland, OR with NO hassle. The TSA people just feed it through the x-ray machine and barely wink at seeing a violin.

I get flak over my camera bag, however! In the x-ray machine it looks like a canon --- and it is a CANON. :)

Stay tuned.

Mike

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TSA rules specifically permit a musical instrument in addition to the usual carry-on suitcase and personal item, but this permission does not waive the size limits.

Please don't assume that TSA rules/guidelines have anything to do with what the crew will allow on board. You can get by the security screening by the TSA, but the airline has their own policy, and the flight crew has ultimate authority. If the flight crew says it is too big to go overhead (small plane, or they feel there is already too much carry-on), they can tell you to have it stowed in the hold. You can always appeal to the captain...

We have gone to using the BAM Hightech cases with the shoulder straps. Physically, they ride very low on the wearer's back, have a very low profile, and are virtually invisible on the person carrying from the front because the case doesn't rise above the shoulders at all.

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Please don't assume that TSA rules/guidelines have anything to do with what the crew will allow on board. You can get by the security screening by the TSA, but the airline has their own policy, and the flight crew has ultimate authority. If the flight crew says it is too big to go overhead (small plane, or they feel there is already too much carry-on), they can tell you to have it stowed in the hold. You can always appeal to the captain...

We have gone to using the BAM Hightech cases with the shoulder straps. Physically, they ride very low on the wearer's back, have a very low profile, and are virtually invisible on the person carrying from the front because the case doesn't rise above the shoulders at all.

Reedman's first paragraph is right on the mark. Whether your violin is allowed on as carry-on is very much a factor of the conditions for that flight for that day; ie, it depends on the good will of the flight crew.

My own philosophy is not to push that good will too far. So, if I'm taking a fiddle on as carry-on, I take as little additional carry on as possible, preferably nothing else, and bring the fiddle on in a 25 inch, violin only case, a BAM Hightech Overhead.

You can always pack a bow, if you need one, in sturdy check-in luggage in such a way as to minimize any danger of damage to it.

Reedman,

Is your BAM Hightech case the 25 inch Overhead, or the full size 31 inch oblong or shaped?

The 25 inch BAM Hightech Overhead is a bit pricey, about $400+, but it's a great case, very strong, very light (less than 3 lbs) and with comfortable shoulder straps that put the case on your back out of sight and almost out of mind. You'll remember it's there when you try to sit down.

The Bobelock shipping case for violin alone is also about the same size as the BAM Hightech Overhead. It weighs considerably more, 7.5 lbs, but is considerably cheaper at about $200.

It would be easy enough to make a violin only carry on case from any good quality wood shell dart or shaped case. Just cut 6 inches off the nose and close in the hole.

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In this era of travel safety concerns, it comes down to what the boarding hostess's decide (and they are sometimes called from the baggage check if there is concern). If they say no, it's no, regardless of any written guidelines.

If you can afford it, a sturdy travel case that can survive the baggage hold, is the best bet. It eliminates embarressment and anger which can get you unto trouble, and offers the overall best protection.

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United Airlines carry-on restrictions link

Per above link, allowed carry-on size for United: 9x14x22 or 45 linear inches.

Delta Airlines carry-on restrictions link

Per above link, allowed carry-on size for Delta: 9x14x22 or 45 linear inches.

Southwest Airlines baggage restrictions link (Scroll down mid page for carry-on.)

Per above link, allowed carry-on size for Southwest: 10x16X24 inches.

Typical dimensions for single violin oblong case: 5.5 x 9.5 x 31 inches, or 46 linear inches.

There's an ambiguity here. A typical oblong single violin case is about 46 linear inches (height+width+length). That might be close enough to the 45 linear inches allowed by United and Delta, but both United and Delta seem to restrict the length dimension to 22 inches, which, of course, the case will exceed by about 9 inches. So, depending on whether the criterion is the the total linear dimension or the individual dimensions of height, width, and length, the typical single oblong case is either pretty close to qualifying as carry-on or is considerably over the limit.

Conclusion: You're at the mercy of the personnel at the boarding gate as to whether the typical oblong violin case technically qualifies as acceptable carry-on.

Conclusion for myself: Be ready to abort the trip if gate personnel choose to show no mercy, because I'm not willing to allow any of my fiddles to go in the baggage hold as checked baggage.

My resolution to the whole problem: Use a violin only case of about 25 inches in length (and technically that's still too long, but hope for the best), and pack the bow in checked baggage.

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I have taken many times a double violin case on the plain with me from USA to China and back. I fly united Air. They have always let me to take it on with me. They have as of yet to limit my normal other carry on bags.

I still think it would be good to ask the airline before you go. I did have some problems bringing back a double bass one time. They made me pay for an extra seat.

Larry Lewis

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Is your BAM Hightech case the 25 inch Overhead, or the full size 31 inch oblong or shaped?

It is the regular shaped case--viola. I have a son and daughter who both have this case. I don't think the flight crew even see the case on their backs as they board.

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I don't like to defend the airport security or airlines in America, because I think they have done just about everything they can to make flying a miserable experience, but there is some logic to their not allowing spare strings. It is not hard to take a string off a fiddle, but it has to be done. In the time that someone is removing the string, others have an opportunity to notice that something 'weird' is happening. A potential hijacker certainly does not want to be noticed doing something weird.

It's not fool-proof, but there is some logic. It makes more sense than the whole shoe thing, to me.

As far as flying with a violin case, being reasonable is good strategy. I take a normal, small, shaped case, which holds a bow, something like a standard rental case. That goes in the overhead. I take a small backpack with a book, a few odds and ends. That goes under the seat. The current trend towards taking everything possible on board, with bags that make it to the last possible dimension allowed (and then stretched by packing so much crap inside) -- it just seems like a good way to be constantly frustrated.

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I wonder what the trend toward airlines charging for check-in baggage will do for this whole business of what airline personnel will allow as carry-on?

Seems to me this trend toward charging for check-in baggage will result in more passengers than ever trying to carry on baggage that should be checked in.

The consequences of the increased carry-on would be:

1. There's going to be far more carry-on clutter than ever, and airline personnel will have to get stricter about what's allowed in order to keep the clutter down.

2. The charge for check-in baggage will become an important revenue stream for airlines, and airlines will stop being lenient about carry-ons, because by strictly observing regulations about carry-on size and funneling baggage into check-in, the airlines will make more money.

Because now there's money involved (passengers trying to save some, and airlines trying to make some more), I think it's inevitable that airlines will get stricter about carry-on requirements. That's going to make carrying a violin on, regardless of case size (25 inches is still over the limit), harder.

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I think the airlines could solve some of the problem by charging for carry-on and let checked baggage go free. Still, plenty of people would just pay the money so they could have their stuff with them.

I would gladly pay an extra $50 if I were guaranteed to be allowed to carry on with me my 6x10x32 violin case, instead of trying to slink through the airplane entrance with my technically oversized carry-on. I don't like gambling with my valuable property.

It's time to bring high speed rail travel to the USA, and have an alternative to flying for domestic travel.

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I have been off the grid for a couple days....I'm in LA for my daughter's graduation from nursing school.

Thanks for the help. One trip is to China and one to Italy. Seems like I can get away with this program going to China but it is still iffy going to Italy.

I have had so many baggage problems lately that I don't want these trips to screw up!

thanks again.

On we go,

Joe

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I would gladly pay an extra $50 if I were guaranteed to be allowed to carry on with me my 6x10x32 violin case, instead of trying to slink through the airplane entrance with my technically oversized carry-on. I don't like gambling with my valuable property.

It's time to bring high speed rail travel to the USA, and have an alternative to flying for domestic travel.

Right -- the 'guaranteed' is certainly the issue. I think we all have nightmares of getting on the airplane with our fiddle, then being denied on a connecting flight in some strange city.

Checking your violin into baggage is crazy. Not recommended at all.

I have a copy of a 2005 letter regarding musical instruments --

TSALetter_2005.pdf

but couldn't quickly find it on the current site. This instead --

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ass...orial_1235.shtm

And as previously mentioned, it's the airline personnel that have the last word.

I still think taking the least amount of carry-on in addition to the fiddle is a good strategy. If you do get bumped off a connection, you can always busk a bit to buy what you need! :)

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I get flak over my camera bag, however! In the x-ray machine it looks like a canon --- and it is a CANON. :)

Stay tuned.

Mike

Okay I am now just getting off the floor from laughing so hard!

Did not Roll though!

:)

I am wondering if it would be easier to travel with two single cases?

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This instead --

http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/ass...orial_1235.shtm

And as previously mentioned, it's the airline personnel that have the last word.

I still think taking the least amount of carry-on in addition to the fiddle is a good strategy. If you do get bumped off a connection, you can always busk a bit to buy what you need! :)

Ken,

From your last link, here's an important part:

"If you have an instrument in your checked baggage, include short written instructions, where a security officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background."

When I put a fiddle bow in checked baggage (never a fiddle, itself) I do the following (in addition to careful packing in a very strong bow case) so that security people can deal with it easily:

--Use a bow case that can be opened and closed easily. This means I can't use one with an intricate locking mechanism (I have such a case) or have the bow, itself, bubble wrapped.

--Have the bow case clearly labeled "this side up," or whatever is appropriate to ensure the case is opened in the proper position.

--If I wrap the bow case in bubble wrap, then I use rubber bands, not tape, to secure the bubble wrap so that the bubble wrap can be easily re-wrapped around the closed bow case.

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I think that you may read the policies the airlines has about musical instruments. I am not a frequennt flyer, but have attended the VSA Violin Acoustics Workshops in Oberlin, Ohio USA since the summer of 2006 up to now. The last three times I have had a Concorde quad case with four violins/hardangers in. I have been able to carry the case on every time, often a two or even three planes a tour, each way. Once I got a green tag and the message that "that might not fit in the cabin" but I got it on board anyway.

I think a cricial point is that the case should fit in the overhead compartment. The Concorde case is 8x13x31 inches and just barely fit in the smaller US air machines overhead compartment. The bigger machines tend to have larger compartments.

I have flied KLM, Continental, Lufthansa, SAS, US Air and British Airways one year I think. There is more interest for the bag, with a sound level meter, Lucchi meter etc. Sometimes the whole lot needs to be taken out and scanned separately. There are some cables etc.. Just be patient and let the folks do their job.

Maybe I have been lucky with the instruments. But as said, there usually is a separate policy for musical instruments and other special carry on baggage. A violin can be anything from a del Gesu to VSO's. Who is able to judge that value in a hurry? I think that a musical instrument like that is not something the aviation companies would want to have the responibility for, in case of any thing happening to it in the checked in luggage. I think the best solution for both them and a passanger is to take it onboard as carry on luggage. I might be a bit naive, but read the policies for musical instruments and make your own opinion.

I have also had a not so pleasant experience with Ryanair. They only allow one carry on item and you need to send the musical instrument as special baggage, even if paying specially for the musical instrument. So no more Ryanair with instruments on this guy.

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Maybe needless to say, but I just would add that I try to get on the plane as early as possible, and are prepared to have by backpack with the laptop etc under the seat in front of me, if space is limited. A seat next to an emergency exit may not give that "extra possibility".

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