Sure, you can bring your violin on the plane, if you buy a $1,400 ticket for it...
That was the option Aer Lingus offered violinist Roberta Goldman, who wished to travel with her violin Wednesday from the U.S. to Europe. Goldman's flight goes from Boston to Malaga, Spain, with a stop for change of planes in Dublin. The equipment for both flights is an Airbus plane, a model which does have overhead compartments. Her violin is a Antonio Sgarbi built in 1901 in Rome, valued at about € 60,000. Goldman is traveling to a chamber music program called Rencontres in in Bayonne, France, on the Spanish-French border.
Despite a number of U.S. and European policies that allow for musical instruments, the airline insisted that the violin would not be accepted, as any carry-on is required to be no longer than 21.5 inches. (A typical violin case such as a Bam or Musafia is about 31 inches long). In desperation she asked if she could send the case as baggage and travel with the violin in her lap, but the airline said that would be a violation of safety regulations.
Recently adopted policies in both the U.S. and Europe would seem to allow for a violin (in its case, of course!) as carry-on baggage, despite airline policies regarding carry-on size: In January 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation officially implemented a law that authorized musical instruments as carry-on baggage onboard U.S. air carriers. Last February, the European Parliament adopted provisions aiming to to facilitate the transport of musical instruments on planes as carry-on luggage.
What does this mean for international flights? Perhaps this is the next frontier for lobbying for musician-friendly policies. Or, perhaps Aer Lingus is simply in the wrong.
As for Goldman, she has been busy contacting luthiers in Malaga and Madrid to see if she can borrow instruments for both practice and performance over her three months in Spain. And she's not feeling too happy with Aer Lingus.
"I will never fly Aer Lingus again, despite their good prices and easy to use website," she said. "They are actually flaunting the most recent TSA regulations, and well as the recent EU regulations, about carry-on policy for musical instruments."
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