Flying with instruments is touch and go

November 20, 2014

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Time for Three (Neilson Barnard)


Whenever there's a news story about a musician who has experienced trouble getting on a plane with his or her instrument, someone usually asks me if I've ever had a problem flying with my cello.

I'm happy (?) to report that I don't have a $100,000 instrument and don't play for a living, so I can put my virtually-indestructible carbon-fiber "travel" cello into a beat-up case with a bunch of padding (old beach towels), send it through as checked baggage, and restring it upon landing.

Professional musicians with precious instruments don't have that luxury. Add to that the confusing lack of consistency between airlines; the choices seem to be:

  • Buy an extra seat.

  • Don't buy an extra seat — carry it on.

  • Pack it in a travel case and check it.

But … what works with one airline doesn't necessarily work with the next; for example, the Strad reports on the latest travel blues experienced by the ensemble Time for Three:

US Airways has once again denied access to a member of string ensemble Time for Three with his instrument. Double Bassist Ranaan Meyer (pictured) was told by the airline's supervisor and shift manager at Los Angeles International Airport that he would not be permitted to fly home to Philadelphia with his bass after appearing on television show 'Dancing with the Stars' on Monday night.

After being told he would not be on the flight, Meyer posted this message to YouTube:

Fortunately, Meyer was eventually able to get home:

Do you travel with an instrument? What challenges have you faced? Any advice to share? Post in the comments section below.