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Should I bring my violin or not? Dreaded Delta

January 11, 2009 at 5:02 AM

I really need to practice this week, and I don't like to be without my violin for a week.  But reading from the horror stories with flying Delta, I am thinking twice about it. 

I fly with my violin all the time (i travel alot, but always with United, and they are SUPER nice to musicians).   I book this flight kinda late, and United does not have any direct flights anymore, I completely forgot about this Delta nightmare until now.

Many violinist here complaint that Delta would not let them bring their violin on board with them, although my violin is not expensive, I don't want to check it.

If you were me, what would you do?

From Bart Meijer
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 11:44 AM

Phone them? Or am I being naive?

From Ingrid Popp
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 2:38 PM

Actually I have heard (although not experienced, I have never flown on Delta) that Delta is now one of the nicer airlines in terms of letting instruments on (probably because of the bad publicity they recieved in the past) and I believe that if you go to their website they actually have a policy stating that small instruments (they list violins) are okay as carryons. So as long as you don't to to bring another carryon bag (except maybe a small backpack or messenger bag) you're probably okay, but you might want to call the delta and make sure.

From Ihnsouk Guim
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 4:14 PM

Search for Laurie blog from a while back. She featured the negotiation Musicians union reached with Delta airlines that they would allow instruments on board. Let us know how your trip goes. I just booked my daughter's flight to the music camp with Delta. She will be traveling alone with her violin. Would like to know if they are following up with their agreement.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Delta's website says:

"Guitars and other smaller musical instruments, such as violins, will be accepted as your free carry-on baggage on Delta operated flights.  [footnote]  Delta Connection (R) carriers and codeshare partner baggage policies may differ.  Not valid for travel to and from the UK.  [continued]  These items must easily fit in the overhead compartment or approved stowage location in the cabin, on a space available basis at the time of boarding.  If adequate space is not available, the item must be checked."

Take your chances, or bring your VSO. 


From Benjamin K
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 5:23 PM

I have a Yamaha silent violin at my office so I can practise during breaks. If I was in doubt about whether or not to take my violin on a trip involving air travel, I guess I would take the silent violin and check it in or even ship it in advance to the hotel I am booked into. If you are taking frequent trips, maybe you want to consider getting a silent violin.

From PM Rolf
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 5:39 PM

Well, I'm gonna take my chances based on Anne's reply I also googled Delta's website, and it seems that they did change to allow violins on board.  I'll let you all know how it went!

From Anne Horvath
Posted on January 11, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Gee, PM, I wouldn't try it with my violin!!!  Even though the only guarantees in life are taxes and death, it would be nice if Delta wouldn't be so vague about the "ifs".  For me, the "ifs" are a real deal breaker:  "IF adequate space is not available"!!!

I guess you are a glass-half-full type...

Good Luck!


From Bethany Morris
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 2:56 AM

My only caution is that most airlines are charging for even one checked bag now, so the trend is that everyone on your flight will probably have two carry-on bags.  If you board close to last, overheard compartment space will be full before you board, and everyone at the end of the line has to check something planeside.  (I ran into this flyinging in the last two months, and was saved by kind airline stewardesses who found room for my violin in odd compartments in the cabin.)  Maybe you should talk to the ticket-takers before boarding and mention that you have a valuable instrument that can't be checked (whether or not it is very valuable, it is more valuable than a suitcase of clothes!), and they might let you board earlier.

From PM Rolf
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 3:29 AM

I decided last minute not to take it with me.  Even though it's not an expensive violin, it is my ONLY one and I'll be devestated without it.  Plus my meeting here will be very stressful, if my bosses see me with my violin they will say or think "wow, you think you have free time to play violin?" i know it's none of their business even if I have a few downtime minutes or I can get up early and stuff, but our company is not doing so great right now, last thing I want is to get on their radar.

One time my director "jokingly" said : Wow, you have too much free time to take violin lessons and play with an orchestra".  I did NOT appreciate that at all. I should keep my mouth shut now. :)


Thanks for everyones reply, my flight was jam packed full and the staff on Delta wasnt that nice.  It is just less stressful for me to have to worry about my violin.

From Jessie Vallejo
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 5:24 AM

I agree, it's definitely less stress to travel without a violin (and a laptop for that matter).

I had some bad experiences with Air France going from Spain to the USA once...most of the airlines I've flown here with my violin have been fine (I can for sure vouch for American Airlines and Jetblue).  When they wanted me to check my violin for Air France, I think I just told them I'd carry it to the gate.  Nobody on the plane bothered me about it.

The thing that really irks me with the whole violin thing, is that a violin tends to fit better than almost everyone else's luggage.  I don't know how many times I've seen people trying to smash their overloaded luggages, only to have them not fit.  My last flight, I think about 4-5 people in my section of the plane had to bring theirs to the front to be checked simply because the bag was larger than it should have been.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 6:08 AM

Here's the blog from last summer about it, and also here is the story about the AFM agreement with Delta. Thing is, that agreement is getting a bit dated; it's from 2007. Nonetheless, I copied that story and kept it in my case, and fortunately did not have to use it. I traveled with my violin, no problems, back in May. Of course, that was then, and this is now.

From Benjamin K
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 6:52 AM

"Wow, you have too much free time to take violin lessons and play with an orchestra".  I did NOT appreciate that at all. I should keep my mouth shut now."

Do you need mathematical or analytical skills in your job? Because if you do, then simply tell your boss that he is very seriously mistaken, that playing a musical instrument, especially classical (and even more so baroque) music, boosts one's math and analytical abilities, it's like math training. If that doesn't shut him up already, tell him that people who keep their fingers agile such as one does playing the violin or the piano, are so much less in danger of experiencing above average deteriorating brain functions when getting a bit older. Last but not least, people who do things in their free time to switch off from work (not only physically but also mentally) are known to perform better at work.

From Royce Faina
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 3:34 PM

PM could give him/her a basket full of Prunes! Slip a few to the Delta crew also.

From Ihnsouk Guim
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 3:44 PM

Could AFM talk to Delta again just to refresh? Sometimes, Delta is the only one flying. 

From Juergen L. Hemm
Posted on January 12, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Re: "too much free time to take violin lessons and play in an orchestra":

I've read that when Thomas Jefferson was President of the United States, he set aside three hours every day to play his violin. Guess all other jobs on this earth should allow one a hobby, too. In my opinion, it is a frightful sign of our times that sentences like the one cited above are spoken in earnest and not in jest.

Greetings (and keep on playing),


From Mendy Smith
Posted on January 14, 2009 at 4:34 AM

another Re: "too much free time to take violin lessons and play in an orchestra":

I take my viola with me on each and every business trip I go on, whether I practice or not, even overseas.  This routine even got some of the execs talking about bringing their own instruments along for the occasional down-time they have in the evenings to relax (besides the traditional "lounge" relaxation technique). 

Even if your job requires extremely long hours, any good boss will know that to keep people in top mental condition and keep up with the pace, down-time is needed to "re-set" the brain.  A good boss should only be concerned if it interferes with your performance or what is expected of you hours-wise.

Posted on January 14, 2009 at 6:25 AM


The greedy airlines are very specific as of late that the carry-on item fit certain size and measurement dimensions ...that being the case (no pun intended) I noticed that Shar now sells a "carry on case".

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