Carry on luggage

August 30, 2006 at 05:08 AM · I hate to raise this issue a third time.

I am flying with British Airways from Detroit, to London to Vienna. I will be recording with the Slovak Philharmonic. I am terrified of having my instrument lost. Has anyone flown on British Airways in the last week or so? Were you able to get your instrument on as a carry on.

Replies (44)

August 30, 2006 at 04:21 PM · I've just come back from a flight overseas with British Airways and there was no question of taking on my violin. I ended up borrowing instruments and donating them to a music school so I only flew with them one way. I wrapped them extremely well inside the case and then wrapped the whole case in bubble wrap and fragile stickers. (all this for instruments worth less than £100!). I wouldn't travel with my own violin and I was even worried about taking these instruments but they did not get lost.

August 30, 2006 at 05:40 PM · Pretty much just don't get on the flight if they don't allow you to take it on. I've had to do that. The most important thing is to be calm about it and to remain co-operative while still standing your ground and making your point.

I was traveling with two violins on SouthWest (NEVER AGAIN); there was a woman in front of me with a guitar (later learned she was a Curtis graduate) and she was denied boarding. She became irate and belligerant. I of course was also refused boarding with the violins. I calmly explained why they must come with me (antique, worth $200,000+, fragile, etc. etc.) and offered to assist with a search of the cases if security was the issue. It turned out that it was space, not security that was the issue. I asked if there was a cubby that they could go in and when there wasn't I asked to be allowed pre boarding rights on the next available plane. This was granted in all of 10 minutes while the screaming woman ahead of me took about 45 minutes to accomplish the same thing only with much yelling, raising of blood pressure, and extensive vein popping in the forehead region.

Preston

August 31, 2006 at 01:37 AM · I just returned from Scotland via London on British Airways. They imposed all the new rules while in Scotland. I was with a group of about 15 who were flying home from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. On the way to Scotland we had no problem bringing our instruments on the plan, but on the way home we had to fight the airline to let us bring on our instruments. They absolutely refused and were very rude about it. We even tried to carry the instruments on with not case -only wrapped in bubblewrap (as our one carry on), but our instruments still did not fit within their guidelines, and we were forced to check them. I had looked into shipping my instrument home, but with packaging and shipping, it would have been like $400.

We put the instruments on the "special" belt, with bubblewrap carefully around the bridge in the case. I think the airline ended up putting our instruments in the baggage area where they keep the pets.

Everyone's instrument was fine when we returned to DC, but it was a very stressful event.

August 31, 2006 at 06:02 AM · Hello i would like to ask you something does enybody fly with Alitalia??? because i will fly and i do not know if i am allowed with my violin and i am scared because i have a Stainer.

August 31, 2006 at 06:08 AM · Hi Michael,

I flew Alitalia earlier this summer to play some concerts in Italy, and I didn't have any problems even on a turboprop. (On the turboprop they wanted to give me a tag, but I told them it was an valuable instrument and they let me carry it on.) This, of course, was before the London arrests were made, so rules might have changed.

September 2, 2006 at 01:56 PM · I wouldn't ever put a violin case through baggage (with a decent violin inside it, that is).

I once put an EMPTY violin case in baggage on British Airways from London Heathrow to Sydney and it never arrived at the other end. The violin itself was either with me in a carrybag in bubblewrap or in baggage in my suitcase (I forget which) and got through alright.

Somebody at Heathrow, Singapore or Sydney obviously thought my violin case contained a valuable violin and nicked it.

A suitcase is much less obvious, particularly if it doesn't look too expensive. Also, I have been told that an opportunist sneak-thief is less likely to take your case off the carousel if it is bright red or pink, but as a male I have never summed up the courage to travel with such eye-catching gear !

September 3, 2006 at 10:00 AM · Since the latest August scare, you CAN carry-on your instruments with you as normal, as long as you are not flying to-fro from the US or Heathrow-UK airports (or US airlines and BA).

If you are flying from any other part of the world to any other, with other airlines, there is no problem with instruments as your one carry-on luggage.

For people in the USA-UK there is no solution, but if you are flying from, lets say Canada or Japan to Europe, book your flight thorugh any other airline and don't go via a UK airport and then you are fine. This has been my own personal experience twice in the past two weeks.

September 3, 2006 at 02:01 PM · The cabin luggage restrictions makes travelling with violin impossible. Rest of Europe is now thinking of implementing it...

Let's all write to Rt. Hon. Douglas Alexander (UK secretary of state for transport) to give us some leeway for musical instruments?

His email address is: Douglas Alexander

We all know what can happen to a violin/viola if put on hold?

Viola destroyed by Air Canada

September 3, 2006 at 05:39 PM · I also have only checked a "violin" (empty case) once. . . and it was stolen.

I've had the other experience, too--I have traveled with someone who is naturally offensive, and makes everything into a big deal, before it is, and he's had all sorts of boarding problems, one of which ended with him walking down the ramp throwing money at the crew (I mean, this guy is OFFENSIVE). As a consequence of his charming personality, he gets the same treatment as the screaming guitarist, consistently--you'd think he'd learn, but no. On the other hand, I'm always as calm as I can be and polite, and once even managed to get a ticketed cello onboard and in its seat before anyone on the crew noticed me or the cello.

In spite of the rules, the ultimate decision lies with the crew, who can break rules, apply them mercilessly, or even make up new ones, in the name of "safety". You really don't want to get on their bad side. If at all possible, I avoid being noticed until I'm as close to a seat as possible--ticket people, for instance, will make stricter assumptions, as will the checkin person at the gate, if you do it that way. . . . so don't let them see what you have, if you can avoid it.

Being early and at the start of loading (I always reserve a seat at the back of the plane--loading first) helps, too, since there are always bins available. If you're last, and all spaces are gone, there's nothing at all they can do.

My experience has all been before the recent bogus ( http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/08/17/flying_toilet_terror_labs/ ) round of useless hysteria , though. Currently, I've sworn off flying completely, hoping that revenue realism (tickets were down 20% the last that I saw) will bring them to their senses, (or drive the airlines into bankrupcy--the inevitable result of foolishness).

September 3, 2006 at 08:41 PM · I just flew into Dublin from San Francisco with a connection at Heathrow. Just because i had that connection in Heathrow I had to check my violin.

I ended up loosening the strings, taking off the bridge and buying a lot of bubble wrap. I put bubble wrap wherever there was an empty space in my case; around the scroll, underneath the neck, underneath the fingerboard and tail piece. I also had a Mooradian case cover for the rainy weather in Dublin. The ticket agent also slapped a bunch of fragile stickers on it.

I was too scared to open the case to see how it fared....but low and behold I just opened it...and its totally fine.

September 4, 2006 at 09:09 AM · I just returned from Italy. Internal flights in Europe seem to be ok I didn't have any problems in either Paris, Venice of Frankfurt. The topic of the violin was never brought up. A friend was denied checking in the violin in Heathrow tough. I think it's only the UK being a problem in Europe now. I am flying to the US later this week and I know I can't bring the violin.

September 4, 2006 at 09:10 AM · Hi Alvin,

Welcome to Dublin! The Dublin Symphony Orchestra resume rehearsals tomorrow night (Tuesday 5 Sep) in St. Louis' High School, Rathmines, Dublin 6, at 8pm. I don't play with them, but I'm sure you would be most welcome.

September 4, 2006 at 12:34 PM · Has anyone here written to Douglas Alexander, the UK Transport minister? We are trying to get as many people to email him to get some concessions for violins/violas/cellos(when bought extra seat).

My original message is above.

Pleeeeeese! It only takes 5 mins to write, and might help our cause...

September 4, 2006 at 01:09 PM · Hi Christina,

I'm afraid you cannot leave UK airports with a violin as carry on luggage. I just had to change a ticket for a concert of mine, in Poland, since I was supposed to go through the U.K. I think you can take the violin into the U.K. airport, but they won't let you leave with it!

Daniel

September 4, 2006 at 01:18 PM · Right now the only way to get out of UK with a violin is either boat or train. Take the Eurostar to Paris and u can get to Charles de Gaulle airport in 30 min from the train station.

Another possibility is to go Brussels via Eurostar. Ryanair operates cheap flights from there.

September 4, 2006 at 04:09 PM · The advice to fly from Europe is good.

As I said, no one even blinked or commented on the violin and clarinet we were carrying at Frankfurt airport and on two Lufthansa flights, and this was just 2 days after all these new restrictions started with the London arrests.

No one has been able to tell me what connection do liquids and gels have with violins and clarinets etc, whose every nook and cranny can be examined (or what are those X-ray machines for?)

September 5, 2006 at 03:41 AM · It's just stupid. If you can make a violin shaped bomb, than you can make a computer or, for that matter, carry-on luggage shaped bomb.

As for putting the violin in the hold, I'd be more worried about extreme temperature variations than shock.

My solution: "fragile stuff safe" hold for fragile stuff, no carry-on luggage at all and a good sleeping pill for the trip so you don't miss reading your magazine. First class passengers could get a free bath and haircut while they slept. It would save on peanuts too...

Howard

September 5, 2006 at 11:00 AM · There is a atmosphere controlled section on the plane for pets, so that would be better - though I am more concerned about the baggage handlers. They always seem to throw all luggages including those fragile one's. There are luggage shoots which literally drops the luggage down 10ft shoots!

September 9, 2006 at 02:28 PM · The Times newspaper states "Department of Transport officials were yesterday said to be discussing issues relating to baggage restrictions, including those relating to musical instruments, with airlines. "

The Times Newspaper

Am I too optimistic to be hopeful of satisfactory outcome?

September 9, 2006 at 09:53 PM · The most infuriating aspect of all this is how completely unnecessary it is. What is the position of the airlines, after all? Why do they still hold it necessary to ban instruments?

POSSIBILITY 1 - The instrument poses a security risk in itself.

RESPONSE: On what planet? How is a piece of wood held to be more dangerous than the human hand? A trained terrorist could wield kung-fu skills to far greater effect than he could wield the single-use, wooden truncheon that a violin or viola could be. Strings as garrottes? How about shoelaces and belts? How about knotted shirts? These aren't being denied access to the cabin. Meanwhile, a string used as a garrotte would far more likely slice the bejeezus out of a wanna-be Richard Reid's hand than it would damage a victim's throat. So no, instruments are not dangerous in and of themselves.

POSSIBILITY 2 - Dangerous things can be hidden inside instruments or instrument cases.

RESPONSE: The number of instruments flown daily is small enough that a thorough examination of each and every case is not impossible. X-rays, visual inspection and, if need be, acoustic inspection (having the instrument played to prove it's not stuffed full of plastique) are also all possible without incurring over-long delays in security lines. Musicians would be infinitely more likely to accept a requirement that they arrive extra-early at the airport for a tete-a-tete with security than to disassemble del Gesu violins and wrap them in bubble wrap, or other similar nonsense.

RESPONSE 2: Moreover, the people whom this ban is hurting most are those who cannot possibly be terrorists or terrorist moles. It is precisely the highest-level professionals who are most inconvenienced by these Draconian idiocies because it is precisely THEIR instruments which must never, even under ANY precautionary circumstances, be placed in the hold. And it is precisely these top professionals' bona fides which are easiest to check. What, has Isserlis been taking a vacation from his 200+ concerts a year to go train in Tora Bora as a suicide bomber? Has the Berlin Phil (or St. Luke's, for that matter) been unwittingly accepting terrorists into their ranks? Has bin Laden started offering top-notch violin lessons along with bomb making to increase penetration of soft civilian targets?? In short, check the credentials of the musicians asking for exemptions for their instruments. If they've got instruments which can't be checked, they're sure to have credentials which can be.

POSSIBILITY 3 - Other passengers will complain of special treatment for musicians.

RESPONSE: Airlines aren't known for being overly bothered by such complaints (witness the current situation). Moreover, such complaints can be easily addressed via short statements posted at security gates. Something informing non-musical passengers that musical instruments qualify for an exemption due to their fragility, pricelessness, and the impossibility of their use for nefarious purposes.

POSSIBILITY 4 - Airlines in the UK passed wide-sweeping regulations without considering the tiny fraction of their passengers who genuinely need and deserve an exception: professional musicians. In short, it went under BA's radar.

RESPONSE: Yes, that's very likely. But the proper response to having overlooked something unjustifiable and unreasonable is NOT to continue the unjustifiable and unreasonable policy. The proper response is to repeal or amend the policy. That is, of course, if you give a flying ---- about your customers, which BA doesn't seem to.

September 9, 2006 at 10:25 PM · Emil, you are using way too much logic.

I get to take a crochet hook aboard, and I skewered myself with it just last week. Has anyone skewered themselves with a violin-related implement?

September 10, 2006 at 12:35 AM · I'm a level headed guitarist who knows to be exceedingly patient with counter staff who encounter the best and the worst of humanity on a daily basis. For as long as I've flown, guitars exceeded the allowable carry on measurements and I used to worry about this prior to every flight only to witness other people bringing their instruments on board. Over the telephone, the lip-service staff will quote the rules to the letter and tell you that you can't bring an instrument on board the aircraft. If you're planning a trip with a valuable, or for that matter any violin, I'd make a trip to the airport and discuss the issue with a supervisor. With things as they are now, I could imagine that guitars are out of the question now but there is no reason on earth to prohibit a violin. Taking the extra step to discuss the issue with a supervisor when there is no time constraint should smooth the way. Be sure to get a name and a contact number.

September 10, 2006 at 08:44 AM · Emil, you are completely right ofcourse.

Unless one is professional musician with precious fragile instrument, and concerts abroad, no-one understands how desparate our situation is...

Let's hope Department of Transport give us some slack soon. Conductor Mark Elder gave a speech about this on yesterday's last night of the Proms. Let's hope someone is doing something about this.

September 11, 2006 at 09:27 AM · Last week I flew from Dublin to London Heathrow with my violin, without any problem! There were also a guitar and an accordion allowed in the cabin. When I flew home I did not bring the instrument, so do not know how things are in reverse........

September 11, 2006 at 12:29 PM · Flying into the UK is OK, it's flying out that's impossible.

According to today's The Times newspaper (UK):

Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for Transport, hinted yesterday that the rules on luggage size would be relaxed in the next few weeks, but declined to give a date.

He said: “There is an emerging threat in terms of liquid explosives, and we have to reflect that in terms of the arrangements. But we are working very hard both with airport operators and airlines to see if further steps can be taken.”

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has been urging the Department for Transport to give dispensation to musicians. The Musicians Union plans to lobby Parliament over the restrictions, claiming they are damaging the livelihoods of musicians.

A spokesman for the union said that many musicians would rather cancel their tours than risk placing valuable instruments in the hold.

“It is not just because of baggage handling; it is to do with changes in pressure and temperature in the hold,” he said. “It is a risk putting instruments in there because they could get damaged — no insurance company will cover it.

“We are planning to table an early motion outlining the problem and calling for a dispensation on all flights to let musicians carry instruments into the cabin.

“Nobody expects a slackening in security but the fact that musical instruments have to go into the hold means that musicians will just not fly.”

After the security alert last month, only one item of hand luggage, no bigger than a laptop computer case, may be taken on board aircraft departing from British airports.

Mr Alexander told Sunday Live on Sky News that he had attended meetings with international partners and airlines and airports in Britain to look at the possibility of relaxing the limit on the size of hand baggage and the restrictions on taking certain liquids on board.

Further meetings are expected during the next week to determine whether any changes can be made.

September 13, 2006 at 08:56 PM · Instruments will most probably be OK from Tuesday next week:

BBC News

May 18, 2007 at 04:32 PM · I'll be flying from Paris to Providence through Washington in early June on United Airlines. I'm hoping to bring the violin as carry-on. Anyone know if that's feasible now? I suppose that both violin and viola (in two separate cases) would be too much.

May 18, 2007 at 07:46 PM · You should talk with the carrier directly and find out what their size restrictions are. They usually have a formula of width + length + height, and no one dimension can exceed a certain amount. It's basically determining if your case will fit in the overhead space.

I personally have a Bam case and it's bigger, than what will fit under the seat, but it will fit in the overhead.

May 18, 2007 at 10:26 PM · well, if this helps.....

I have found the American airlines to be the most difficult: they stick to the letter of their rules. Other carriers in other countries have been accommodating, and BA is good.

As noted by others above, the issue is whether your case falls within the limits of LxWxH (found on the websites for the ailines). IF not, you can expect difficulties with all airlines: and rejection with the American ones. (this note is not anti-USA, only to say US carriers are strict - fact of life)

Assuming the limits are ok, you still face space limitations when flights are full. In this case (no pun), you are at the mercies of the flight crew (who have full legal control).

I travel between NA, EU, Asia, and SA, so I made sure my case fits the limits of all airlines. So far, I have been permitted to take my violin on board on all flights, without troubles. As noted by others, it is always best to be 100% polite and cooperative with the airline staff.

FYI, my case is a Taiwan product, brand name "Pedi".

May 19, 2007 at 08:06 PM · When I flew Air France from JFK, NYC - Charles de Gaul, Paris - Barajas, Madrid...there wasn't any problem for my violin going above me (I also brought a backpack I could put under my seat), and my boyfriend's guitar going in the room with the stewardesses.

On the way back, things changed. The people checking us in for Air France were incredibly rude and would not let us take either instruments. We kept our cool I think because we were shocked and just kept trying to stress how fragile these were.

I know it was risky, but I just kept the violin with me, and did not check it (I think I set it to the side while I checked my other baggage in, so they wouldn't see it)...

My boyfriend's two guitars I think were put in a special compartment (maybe that one with the pets, I just know that it was different than regular baggage).

Our instruments all came through okay. Our luggage on the other hand had the legs broken, the straps broken, and part of mine was ripped!

For a violin, I think I would just keep stressing how fragile it is and keep asking to talk to people higher up. The restrictions changed for us because of what the US allows to be on the plane.

I agree with the advice to be reasonable, and calm. People will feel better about going out of their way to bend the rules for you.

I know they're also making cases out of what they make bullet proof vests out of...that could be a possible option too for extra protection.

May 19, 2007 at 09:55 PM · bullet proof cases still don't stop one dishonest person from opening it up, or breaking the lock.

it only takes one dishonest person to steal a violin, while on the other hand, it takes many people to have it arrive safely.

May 20, 2007 at 05:04 AM · Just saw a new case from bam it is only for your violin but is small enough to fit in any overhead or into small backpack...

Bam France Airline Overhead Hightech 2003XL

found it at https://www.johnsonstring.com

May 20, 2007 at 05:50 AM · A couple years earlier I traveled to Asia via Chicago. UA express forced me to valet check-in my violin. When I picked up my violin in Chicago outside the plane, what I saw was absolutely heartbreaking: The crew picked up my violin, basically "slammed" it on the conveyor belt from the plane to the ground, and the violin rolled over immediately from the plane to the ground. Fortunately my violin survived the ordeal..... (FYI, I used a Continental Suspensionair with a Cushy Bag)

Those BAM cases seem to be nice for those who traveled frequently. Anyone actually have one?

May 21, 2007 at 03:33 PM · I recently used Jessie's trick consisting of "hiding" the violin and bringing it with me although the people at the gate had told me it had to be checked in! It worked but I was freaking out the whole time at security ;-)

May 22, 2007 at 12:44 AM · I flew to Hawaii with it. I don't think I have the same problems as you. If (meaning they didn't) had asked me to check I would refuse. According to their website my case was within regulations. If you do that you should be fine.

May 29, 2007 at 04:35 PM · This may be a very naive question, so forgive me, but has anyone ever, upon learning the violin case MUST be checked, simply taken the violin out and carried it on and kept it on one's lap the entire time? I mean, they let you do that with babies. Why not your other "baby"? Or would they insist that nothing can be on your lap during take-off and landing and demand that you stick it under the seat in front of you. Even then, though, while this isn't ideal, if you wrapped it in a blanket and stuck it between your feet, wouldn't it be much, much safer than allowing them to take it?

PS - Wally, your violin "valet" (hah!) check story is horrifying!

May 30, 2007 at 03:50 AM · I have not had any issues with Singapore Air, Alaska & American both domestic and international before. never flew through the UK before though. I once had a "close call" in Tokyo after an over-night lay-over at security. I threatened to play my viola, and they let me through. Just joking! I ended up going back to the ticket counter and talking with the agent who gave me a "special pass" for my viola to make it through security & boarding. The ticket lady was very nice, it took awhile to negotiate the process, but I never got the "no way in H###" from her. I guess at Norita, you have to have a special tag issued for oversized carry-ons.

For other flights, I have had to sometimes sweet talk the attendants to put my case in the 1st class coat closet, and on small packed commuter flights, sweet talk someone into checking their carry-on at the gate to make room for my viola (typically, offering to buy them a drink at the last resort works well).

May 30, 2007 at 03:42 PM · Only twice did a gate agent (not ticket agent, mind you) refuse to let my fiddle on board. Both cases involved tiny planes, puddle-hoppers really. The first time, I had connecting flights to China or Japan or someplace equally remote. When I politely but uncompromisingly explained that if the fiddle couldn't board, I wouldn't board either, the gate agent issued me a voucher for a different company's flight to my connection city, which company had the same size plane but a slightly less uncooperative and uninformed attitude. I got to my remote destination with no further issues.

The second time was on a puddle-hopper flight to the D'Angelo competition in Erie. I could see the gate agent's point, since the overhead compartments on that tiny little plane really could not hold the case. However, I was willing to hold it between my legs, or under my seat, or to put it into the crew coat closet (ALWAYS ask for that if all else fails). I was polite but firm. And, when the gate agent said something like "we had a guitarist yesterday and HE checked HIS instrument" I basically said "Ok, I'm done." I handed her my boarding pass and ticket, asked for her name and badge number (or whatever ID method the airline used for its personnel), and refused to board the plane. Faced with this, they folded and let me on board.

Epilogue: I later heard that there was a cellist at the same competition who had allowed a loaner Strad cello to get checked (good GOD!) and that it arrived, predictably, in pieces.

On a separate note, flying from Burma through Bangkok and on to Tel Aviv, I had my luggage searched in Bangkok by El Al personnel. I was asked to transfer a box of cufflinks that I had in my carry-on into my checked luggage (no idea why). The cufflinks were basically worthless in terms of gems, but priceless to me. They were my only physical memento of my late father, who died when I was one and a half. I would wear them in concerts as a sentimental and mystical gesture. They were irreplaceable and worthless to anyone but me.

Needless to say, the cufflinks never arrived. Ben Gurion airport never took responsibility. They took a report and tried to keep a straight face, of course. But the only physical connection to my father that I had was pointlessly taken from me.

And, come to think of it, Ben Gurion airport also failed to take responsibility when, on a different trip, they managed to erase a concert recording I was carrying of a Tchaik I'd done in J'lem by putting the tape through the X-ray. I had asked for the tape to be hand-examined rather than scanned, since I was worried precisely about that eventuality. I even asked to speak to the head of security. He took a report and also tried to keep a straight face. And though I know it's supposedly impossible to erase a DAT that way, when I left J'lem, I had a recording and when I landed at JFK, I had a blank DAT.

Lesson: avoid Ben Gurion airport whenever possible and never put anything you can't bear to lose into your checked luggage.

May 30, 2007 at 04:46 PM · Boy, Emil, those are some stories. Fascinating - and chilling! I have a hunch you've accrued a whole lot more in your years of playing/traveling.

May 30, 2007 at 05:24 PM · Terez wrote,

This may be a very naive question, so forgive me, but has anyone ever, upon learning the violin case MUST be checked, simply taken the violin out and carried it on and kept it on one's lap the entire time? I mean, they let you do that with babies. Why not your other "baby"?

I remember reading that Yuri Bashmet (I think) did this with his viola after the London crisis last summer.

May 31, 2007 at 05:56 AM · Hi Emil

I have been through Ben Gurion a few times and I have to say I've only had good stories!

Once they wanted me to put my violin into one enormous X-Ray machine, but I feared that it had a 2 meter sheer drop at the other end so I requested that the agent examine the violin personally. They just let me through with the violin without checking it at all!!

The security at the airport (have you been at the new Terminal 2000?) are always very nice to me and never give me more than a cursory going-over (I hope I don't jinx myself by saying all this!!)

They once told me I would have to check in my violin, but I was on an orchestra tour and I told her that I was not prepared to do that, and that she was going to have another 50 people with large instruments (and larger than mine certainly) after me who also aren't going to allow it to be checked in and I certainly wasn't going to be the first. I can't remember what she said but basically it was no problem in the end. I think she might have called her supervisor who cleared it or something.

Other than all that, the new terminal is much better and much faster than the old one. The security is air-tight but the security personnel are always very reasonable and have never given me any problems at all. I've always found that smiling at them nicely and maybe sharing a joke sets the tone for friendly and sympathetic service.

Emil, when are you coming to Israel again? I am living in Tel Aviv now and I'd love to hear you playing and meet you.

May 31, 2007 at 01:53 PM · I just received the following from the British Government after clicking the link earlier in this post and writing to the Secretary of Transport:

Dear Mr Cole

Thank you for your email of 25 May to Douglas Alexander on aviation security and the carriage of musical instruments. Your letter has been passed to TRANSEC to respond to as we are responsible for aviation security matters.

I understand your concerns about the continuing need for enhanced security at UK airports but it has been necessary to put increased security measures in place because of the continuing severe level of security threat. All measures in place are being kept under constant review but while we recognise that some of the measures may cause inconvenience it is important that we do not compromise the security of the travelling public.

Each passenger is restricted to carrying only one item through the airport search point with a maximum size of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm. In addition to the one item of cabin baggage permitted above, each passenger is permitted to carry through the airport security search point one musical instrument in its case provided that the instrument in question cannot be carried within the item of cabin baggage detailed above. Passengers are strongly advised to check and confirm with their airline whether additional arrangements for the movement of large musical instruments need to be made. Musical instruments may be carried as a separate piece of hand luggage both in the UK and EU.

Yours sincerely,

Roxanne Bonar

Aviation Security Policy Advisor

May 31, 2007 at 03:30 PM · Larry, I've no immediate plans to come to Israel, but should any arise - and should I be unworried by unrest there - I'll post it on v.com. And/or on my soon-to-be finished website.

Scott, it's amazing that they address the concerns raised in the letter that prompts that response in the last two sentences of the final paragraph. The entire opening is irrelevant and offensive boilerplate. Am I the only one whose blood boils when these tired old scripts are read at us by tech support people, by politicians' offices cranking out letter replies, by ads targeted right past us, by films that assume us to be drooling morons, by TV that assumes even less of us, by...

Sometimes I think that modernity sucks. On par with an industrial-strength vacuum cleaner.

May 31, 2007 at 11:22 PM · I just learnt today that Ilya Gringolts is going to be playing next week at the conservatory where I work as an usher! Sounds like it's going to be a great recital. Playing together with Itamar Golan.

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