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Cesar AViles

Traveling With Your Violin?

June 1, 2012 at 8:53 PM

Airplanes and violins are a delicate situation these days. If you are like me, you are in front of the line waiting anxiously for your group number to be called and be the first to hopefully find a space for your precious little guy. If no space is available then you will probably have to check your instrument.


I’m sure you will stay in that airport and wait for as long as necessary but my case was a little different.

Can you believe I sent my instrument with big suitcases? or at least that’s what I was thinking the whole time (the big suitcases).

I can’t still believe I did that. Nothing happened, thank God, but my conscience, soul and heart were eating me from the inside out for around 3 hours.

You see, I’m Puerto Rican and my country gets lots of hurricanes. One day after a really “life changing” summer festival in the U.S. I was going back home and a big one was headed to my country. I stayed in Newark for 3 days and since I was a student I couldn’t afford a hotel in the meantime. I slept on the floor (with the violin wrapped between my legs) those 2 nights because my money was for food only. Unfortunately, it was not the airline fault that a huge and massive hurricane was heading home, so they didn’t pay for food or hotel- it was my problem.

After 3 day in an airport with the same clothes, no showers and looking at desperate people trying to get a seat in the next available airplane, when I got my chance I couldn’t say no- I couldn’t afford one more second in that place listening to boarding calls and announcements.

I gave up and said:

“Yes, you can put it with the big guys under the plane!”

No space for my baby onboard.

My fiddle didn’t have insurance at the moment but I didn’t care. I was tired, mad, hungry and sleeping in a hard floor, I wanted to go home.

After I took a shower and analyzed the situation I couldn't believe it! It was one of the first music festival I attended and I didn’t know so much about traveling- to be honest I was scared.

Since then, I have visited many countries (thanks to music) and I’ve been through a lot of different experiences but never again had to go through something like that again.

Fortunately there have been space for my violin in overhead compartments.

Anyways, make sure you are one of the first people who enters the plane (at least one of the first in your section or group) and get a place for your violin ASAP.

If you have certain strategies I will love to know them! Please contact me and let me know!

Cesar Aviles

From Joyce Lin
Posted on June 1, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Book your seat at the back of the plane when flying coach, so you will most likely be in the first group to board.
From Daniel Auner
Posted on June 2, 2012 at 7:53 AM
This happened to Yuri Bashmet at the Airport in Tel Aviv. He had a concert the next day and they didnt allow this Strad Viola in the Overhead bin. He took out his Violaand bow, checked in the case, and held the instrument in his hands the whole flight. This is the only way.
From David Burgess
Posted on June 2, 2012 at 8:40 PM
The last time I flew with instruments, I tried out some advice, and it turned out to be valuable:

Approach the gate agent nicely. Explain that you are traveling with a valuable violin, and ask if you can be in an early boarding group to assure that it has space.

If there isn't space (unlikely), ask if someone's less fragile and less valuable luggage can be moved to the cargo hold instead.

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