Regional airlines and violins
A relative wants us to fly to a rather rural area. The airport only supports the smaller regional jets that have tiny overhead bins. You can't fit a violin in one of them. What do people do in this circumstance? Can you buy an extra seat for two violins?
Is there a first class coat closet?
If it's a standard 2/1 regional airplane like an ERJ-135, a violin does fit easily in those overheads. If the plane has no overheads at all, a BAM shaped case will usually fit in the footspace (2 seats, no divider), but if your case is bigger your best bet would probably be to buy an extra seat. Not sure if the flight attendants have closets on the tiny tiny planes.
Here's a solution:
If there's any chance that a leg of my flight will be on one of those smaller jets, I don't bring my violin. Most of my travel is to and from Richmond, VA, where I have family, and I use my sister's VSO there that is available for my use.
I've been able to fit a viola case in the overhead bins on at least some regional jets, and it's always gone into the closet when there wasn't enough space.
If you're bringing two violins, I'd do it in a double case and buy an extra seat. Be sure that you've got some way to secure the case in the seat, as you can't leave it unsecured in the cabin (the seatbelt is insufficient).
This is Lara St. John's somewhat tongue in cheek advice:
Thanks for the advice. A double case is out of the question since one of the violins would be a 1/2 size and the other a full. My guess is the half might fit overhead but the full would not based on what the airline said (it's an Oblong Bam). I'm leaning toward just saying no to the trip. It's crazy that you can buy a VSO for cheaper than buying a seat, but it is totally true!
Mary Ellen, Richmond isn't a farm town. I'm surprised you can't get decent jet service there. For example United 6178 from IAH will be on an EMB-175. You should be able to bring a violin on that plane. But hey, if you've got a picnic violin already there, why sweat it?
The other option if it's only a week's trip or such would be to just give the kids a break from their violin practicing. Now, my kids were never career-bound musicians, but we found that whenever their instrument came along on trips, it caused problems because grandparents would want to plan various adventures -- hikes, trips into the city center to see shows, ball games, museums, etc., and violin practicing did not fit well into those plans. Perhaps y'all have figured out how to manage your vacation schedules closely enough to make it work.
Paul, it depends on the airline. Southwest (my preferred airline when flying with my violin) flies in and out of Richmond, but without a violin I am free to avoid checking a bag entirely (computer bag and small roller bag; the violin requires the roller bag to be checked). Other airlines will on occasion use a commuter jet for one leg; flying to Richmond always involves changing planes in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, or Charlotte (once I changed in Detroit, which was crazy). Worse, other airlines jack the price up beyond my reach if I want to be in an early boarding group, essential for securing bin space for my violin. It isn't worth the risk.
It might be more cost effective to just buy a small, fitted case.
A week's break from practicing isn't going to be killer. Listening to a recording with a score, with mental practice, will be pretty useful if a week's break is really unacceptable.
It would be for a family celebration that they would be playing at, so they would need the violins. Plus, my kids got hooked on those 100 day practice challenges early on and neither has missed a day of practice in something like 2000 and 3000 days, respectively, and I think they would be devastated to kill their records.
There should be really no problem, especially if you can get a compact shaped violin case. Just check in your luggage and bring on the violin. A small shaped violin case is not that big and fits in overhead bins even in regional propeller jets (in my experience). Just check in your luggage so it is the only thing (apart from perhaps a purse or a tiny backpack) that you bring on the plane. Mary Ellen specified she wants to bring her typical carry-on bag on the plane, agreed, then bringing in additionally a violin would be stretching it. But normally you should really be fine.
After about 70 years of commercial passenger Airline business, some front counter people are still surprised when you show up with an instrument, even suggest checking it in to regular baggage. What might help would be to find the airline's instrument policy on-line, print it, take it with you ---sigh--
To clarify, if you are bringing your violin on board an airplane, your second carry-on must be small enough to fit under the seat in front of you. Violin plus purse, computer bag, or diaper bag – OK. Violin plus roller bag (two items requiring bin space) is foolishly risky as well as inconsiderate.
I think your most reasonable solution is to bring the half-size as a carry-on -- it will fit in the bin, especially if your group has no additional carry-ons that require bin space -- and then purchase a cheap full-size violin mail-order that is less than the cost of an airline seat. Fiddlershop, Shar, etc. will ship instruments that have been properly set up. It's probably time for your son to have a spare violin anyway. (If you already have a spare violin, a local shop can help you ship it safely to your relatives.)
Is driving out of the question?
I like the idea of shipping a picnic violin to the location. How's this for an idea: Call Shar and tell them you want to do a trial of a full-sized student violin. Give them your vacation address as the location. LOL!! I can't believe I just uncorked that scam. Totaly dishonest, of course. You wouldn't ever do such a thing.
Paul you're on the right track - do a one month rental guilt-free, have something like a Jay Haide shipped to your destination.
Yes! A rental! I knew someone would rescue my retarded idea.
Sometimes the overhead bins are closed when they are too "full" for further roller bags but there may still be space for something thin like a violin case. The last time I flew with mine was 2.5 years ago and after pleading desperately with a flight attendant to check some of the closed bins, one was found that wasn't completely full.
Rentals usually have a three-month minimum. Cheaper than a purchase, but not as economical as one might assume.