Sign in to follow this  
ChrisBurt

Recent Experiences Hand-Carrying Violins on a Flight?

Recommended Posts

A young friend of mine, nearly 17, is flying on American Airlines from Seattle to Boston near Spring Break to check out Berklee. She’s never flown before, and is worried about hand carrying her violin onto the airplane. My wife and I will accompany her.

 

I've not carried an instrument on a flight in four or five years, and I never had a problem carrying on a violin or a mandolin, but this young lady is an active professional and is concerned for the safety for her professional tool. I’ll direct her to this thread, so any words of wisdom written to a very talented and very concerned youngster would help.

 

Also, any input on traveling cases (money is an issue) would also help her.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Havent flown with mine recently, but I've seen several guys in the last few months get on planes (I've been flying waaaaay to much lately), and a bunch with guitars too, which are much bigger, it seems like they are pretty accommodating these days.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It wouldn't hurt to check the policy of the airline your friend will be using to see how they accommodate musical instruments. Not all the airlines treat instruments the same way, but a lot of them will allow a smaller instrument like a violin or viola on the plane as carry-on items.

 

As another alternative (albeit a costly one), she could pay for a second seat to hold her violin. I've heard of players doing this just to be sure they could keep their instruments at hand.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 Chris, I wish you, your wife, and your friend a safe journey to and fro, but one option that I found sometimes works is - when there's no available compartments - take it to the flight attendant and ask if there is some space they have for her instrument. Sometimes they have a long upright stowaway space that an instrument in case fits nicely into. But make sure the case is shock-proof and the instrument carefully maintained. There won't be much shock when landing and such, but you always want to take precautions... Take a few handkerchiefs or something and pad the bridge an tailpiece area with them, perhaps.

 

 Just an option in case everybody on the plane has a suitcase. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pay for early boarding.  At the moment, it's your only guarantee.  US law says it's up to the flight attendants to determine whether there is enough room in the overhead bins.  If you pay for the early boarding, they won't harass you.  If you are one of the later boarding groups, you could be in trouble.

 

funnyope- I haven't had a flight attendant agree to put my viola case in the coat closet in 10 years.  Pre-9/11 they used to always agree to that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Chris,

In addition to the sound advice you received above, you might contact AA's Customer Service to inquire whether purchasing early boarding privileges is an option. My understanding is some airlines now allow this, in response to (and as a means to generate ancillary revenue from) the most recent Final Rule by the FAA/DOT re musical instruments. If you have an interest in reading the rule, you can find it here: https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Musical%20instruments_FR_final%20rule.pdf

A note re the rule: Please note it does not guarantee a spot for the instrument, only that airlines not require removal of an instrument once stored. Hence my suggestion to contact customer care at AA to inquire about purchasing early boarding privileges. Also, I assume you have a layover and/or change of planes in either Dallas or Chicago, since you are on AA? If so and if allowed, make sure to purchase early boarding for both legs (and return legs).

One final note: The Captain has the final say about anything related to operation of the aircraft. So, even if you have purchased early boarding, respectful interaction with all the airline's employees will be appreciated. (Disclosure: I spent 10 years working for a global airline and have seen numerous customers "blow up" special treatment they were granted by attempting to play one employee against another.)

All best to your friend with her visit to Berklee -- very exciting!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oops, I see Stephen Fine already responded!

@Stephen - I have had a gate agent insist I get on first when she saw I was traveling with a violin. Also, had a Captain store my fiddle behind the jumpseat on the flight deck. (Both events happened after I left the airline biz.) One never knows until they ask, but I agree things have tightened up since 9/11.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I fly American Airlines a couple of times a year with a violin, even with a double case, and some times an attendant will say that a case won't fit but even on their smallest planes it will fit overhead. If all the overhead is full because you were last to board they generally are helpful rearranging the bins to make room for your instrument. American Airlines does have an early boarding option if you check in early. For being a budget airline they do fairly well with instruments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct me if I am wrong...but haven't all airlines now agreed to accept all smaller instruments on board?

You might have to print those rules off - to take with you - to show personnel that aren't familiar with the new regulations though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Correct me if I am wrong...but haven't all airlines now agreed to accept all smaller instruments on board?

You might have to print those rules off - to take with you - to show personnel that aren't familiar with the new regulations though.

IMHO, what you propose is right, fair, legal, and absolutely guaranteed to antagonize gate agents and stews.  You catch more flies with honey, than you do with vinegar.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Early boarding is the key, I agree.

Check all luggage, except a not too full backpack or similar, and the violin. Be nice to the ticket folks, chat with the flight crew, but the main thing is to get the violin in the overhead as early as possible. Your pack goes under the seat, as a courtesy to others.

I did have a pilot ask what I was carrying. The flight attendant who heard my answer tried to convince the pilot to let me play a concert in-flight. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If all the overhead is full because you were last to board they generally are helpful rearranging the bins to make room for your instrument.

 

Amazing.  You must have a very likable face or something.

 

Correct me if I am wrong...but haven't all airlines now agreed to accept all smaller instruments on board?

You might have to print those rules off - to take with you - to show personnel that aren't familiar with the new regulations though.

 

The regulations are that they are in charge.  If there is room, the instrument is allowed, however, it is up to the flight crew to determine if there is room.  So... I missed a flight in August because a flight attendant wouldn't let me board and then wouldn't let me try to find space for my case.  When I told her I couldn't check my instrument, she asked, "Oh, do you think you're special?"  I pointed out to her that I'd paid for early boarding and that there was a law and she pointed out to me that it was up to her to determine whether there was room and that there was no room, "it's a full flight, and your case is too big."  I told her that I fly all the time and that even on small propeller planes it fits in the overhead bins, that it's long and thin and will often fit in bins along with other luggage.

 

In that case, I paid for the early boarding, but then didn't take advantage.  I waited until the plane was half full... there still would've been plenty of room, but the flight attendant was on a power trip, I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

...haven't all airlines now agreed to accept all smaller instruments on board?

You might have to print those rules off - to take with you - to show personnel that aren't familiar with the new regulations though.

The airlines didn't agree to accept all smaller instruments, rather, it was imposed upon them effective March 6, 2015, subject to certain requirements. Please see Section 251.3 of the link I provided above. (Last page, middle column, bottom of page - particularly "b")

 

Agree that printing to "educate" an employee is not the answer.There are many ways the person you chose to "educate" might keep you off your flight. (Done in an "educational" manner, of course!)

 

Treating people with courtesy combined with purchasing early boarding is the best avenue, IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the link... :)

I don't believe I ever suggested being rude and flapping papers in someone's face...I only suggested that one has some "proof" on hand if required.

I brought a puppy back from Europe in September (as hand luggage)...the folks that work at the airlines don't always know everything. Thankfully I managed not to miss my connecting flights...and I wasn't rude either...as I madly ran to board my flight... as they were calling out my name and threatening to leave without me...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Get a molded oblong type case or better a Halliburton case, and put a big NASA sticker on the side.  If anybody tells you to put it in checked baggage, start laughing and say "Put the computer for the Mars lander in checked baggage?"  Works every time.  Dr. Noon can help you with materials.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that case, I paid for the early boarding, but then didn't take advantage.  I waited until the plane was half full... there still would've been plenty of room, but the flight attendant was on a power trip, I guess.

Stephen, I am amazed that happened to you. I guess some people are just too mean for their own good... Very shocking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Stephen, I am amazed that happened to you. I guess some people are just too mean for their own good... Very shocking.

 

It's the second or third time it's happened.  The first time was the most shocking:

 

The flight attendant wouldn't let me board.  She told me the case wouldn't fit.  She pried the case out of my hands and demanded that I board the plane without it even though I told her I would sooner miss my flight than board without it.  She made me wait until everyone else had boarded, then she walked onto the plane with my case and was stunned to discover that it easily fit in the overhead bins.  She actually apologized which was a high point for me.

 

I am amazed that you're amazed.  I hear horror stories like this all the time.  Granted, I'm friends with a bunch of string players who travel for work so I'm more likely to hear these stories than most people, but at least a few times a year I hear similar stories from friends.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 No, I've gone on planes a few times, but I have never been harassed.

 

 I have had a few experiences of similar nature in other departments, though. Inferiority complex, maybe? I don't know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't believe I ever suggested being rude and flapping papers in someone's face...

...the folks that work at the airlines don't always know everything.

Rue, I didn't mean to suggest you were advocating being rude. If you or any other forum members took my comments that way, please accept my apology.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BAM sells an overhead case that is smaller than other cases and meets all the specs for overhead luggage. It only fits a violin but they also have a bow tube to attach to the case which can be stored separately.  The only downside is the case retails for about 560 which I think is too much for the spartan inner compartment.  I bought one and can confirm it is good for travel.  They also sell a trek case which does the same thing and is cheaper.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.