Flying With A Violin
Flying with a violin can sometimes be a little
stressful. Within a couple of years after 911, the
airlines got really insane about carry-on luggage to the
point they were requiring violinists to 'check' their
violins underneath the plane with the rest of the
suitcases and luggage. Never, ever do this!
The likelihood for damage to your violin, is actually
greater than not. That's worse odds than flipping
These days most all airlines allow violins to be
carried into the plane. IT is your carry-on item!
So my advice to both men and women....get a good sized
'purse' to use in conjunction. The purse is always
allowed as well and not considered a carry on suitcase.
If you take a back pack AND your violin, you might get
stopped for that. At least, you can try to bring
that back pack with you, but tell yourself that the
agent might require you to check your backpack so pack
your stuff in it accordingly. In other words,
don't pack anything fragile (laptop) in your backpack
when you also carry a violin because your laptop might
then be flying underneath the plane.
Be nice. Use common sense and always,
always...be polite to the airline people. Being
polite is not only the Golden Rule, it will also keep
your violin with you. Musicians are often stressed
when flying. First, there is the typical stress of
going to the airport madhouse, just like anyone else.
Then, there is the performance in your mind, (well it IS
there) and whether it is an audition somewhere albeit a
school or professional symphony audition, adds to the
stress. So...be nice. Don't mouth off or be
a smartalec to either the counter people or especially
the flight attendants. The attendants can have
your case removed from the plane immediately for
whatever reason they deem!
Board early with your violin. This you
would think is obvious, but when you get on a plane and
everyone has taken every space remotely close to your
overhead compartment, you will appreciate getting on
early and staking out your bin. Also, (still being
polite), when others come on board, tell them about your
fragile violin and that if they don't mind, you can
arrange their bag(s) on and around your violin.
Don't be afraid!! People are shy and some afraid
to say anything and while you don't know these people,
fellow passengers, they are clueless about what a violin
is, or how fragile or anything at all about what can
happen to them. They don't care and they will
re-arrange your violin. Pushing it, cramming it
and putting it configurations that you would NEVER do.
I saw one fall out after the passenger re-arranged
someone's violin case and when the plane landed, while
people were off loading, the violin case fell out.
Put it in the back of the overhead and you might even
want to put it in the opposite side from where you are
sitting so that you can keep your eyes on it until that
hatch is closed for take off. Passengers actually
like that you are a violinist. They can imagine
that you are some famous player, off playing a concerto
with some big orchestra (yes they fly coach these days
too!) So, don't be shy, and keep your eyes on your
Next, get one of the small BAM violin cases if you
can afford it. They are very protective (carbon
fiber) and small. There are some other Chinese
brands out there too that copy the BAM (one is GEWA)
which is actually a German company, but made in China.
Be careful with the small violin form shape, super
lightweight cases (with black cordura) and styrofoam.
These may be cheap, but if you have a good violin, not
safe enough really. Carbon fiber or fiberglass is
the minimum because they will not flex or crush.
The most popular BAM case is their
Hightech Contour case. (You can see this case
on our String Emporium,
BAM Violin case page. These are great cases
and while most use these all the time, whether they are
flying or not, some actually just get this one and use
it only when they fly.
We haven't heard too much or anything too bad about
any individual airlines these days (for violin travel)
but calling them in advance and inquiring is not a bad
idea. When they tell you something that confirms
allowing your violin on, then you can ask them
("please") to put the information that they were telling or reading to
you, into your record locator (with your ticket
reservation). So, if there is any doubt, they will
see that at the ticket counter. Also, printing out
any pages from the airline website to take with you is
So, if you are a traveling violinist and worried about
them allowing your violin on a plane, remember to simply
review the rules with that airline (before you buy that
ticket is best), board the plane early, get a smaller
case and .....be nice!