incident in which a viola da gamba was destroyed when it was put in the cargo hold on Alitalia airlines last week. Was it the airline's fault, for handling the item so roughly? Was it the owner's fault, for failing to purchase a ticket for the instrument and then allowing it to be put in cargo? A combination?Over the last week there has been a lot of discussion about an
Violinists and violists generally do not have to purchase an extra ticket for their instruments; we fly with the hope (and sometimes we can arrange more of a guarantee) that there will be room in an overhead compartment. But it doesn't always happen, and on occasion violinists have been told they must put their instruments in the cargo hold. Whether one says "yes" to that depends on a number of things: the value and age of the instrument; the case it's in; and generally weighing the risk of damage to the considerable inconvenience of missing a flight.
People have missed flights to protect instruments: recently a violinist named Alex "Sasha" Petrin completely missed a flight - and missed the gig - to protect his 2008 Boris Sverdlik violin; and violinist Rachel Barton Pine also missed a flight to protect her 1742 Joseph Guarneri "del Gesu." In general, the risk, when it comes to cargo, is both the low temperature and the fact, no matter what is promised, that there is likely to be some rough handling and possibly the instrument would be put through some baggage transport machinery.
Despite the risks, it takes some serious resolve and inconvenience to actually miss a flight. For this week's vote, imagine yourself in the position of having to miss a flight -- spend a night at the airport or find other accommodations and then hope they'll let you on with the instrument later -- in order to keep your instrument from being put in the cargo hold. Would you do it? Please participate in the vote, and then share your thoughts and experiences about the matter in the comments section.
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