Ten top tips for the travelling violinist

Dismayed by the latest airline assault on a peripatetic instrumentalist, the far-flung soloist Lara St John has pointed me to her essential travel tips.

Read them here. They may not get you an automatic upgrade, but they’ll keep your instrument out of the hold and you out of jail.

Do feel free to share further tricks and refinements.

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  • I travel frequently with a classical guitar, which is considerably larger than a violin. I have found that most airlines will allow what is called a “gate check” (though I cannot be sure they all do this, I have not encountered one recently that won’t honor this request). This means you carry your instrument on to or up to the plane and if it will not fit in the overhead they check it in the area of the plane the other checked bags travel in. Upon your arrival, you then retrieve your instrument at the place that you de-board the plane . While this is certainly not as ideal as getting your valuable instrument on the plane with you, it does minimize the amount of rough handling it will be subjected to, and you can see what is going on when you retrieve it, which is also helpful when it comes to protecting your instrument. If it is in a good sturdy case this also helps. However the one nightmare part of all of this is that some airlines routinely “gate check” my instrument and give me no ticket to prove I’ve even checked it. When I question this policy I usually get some nonsense like “well its insured isn’t it?” to which I asked them if they would check their car ……. which I assume is also insured, without receiving proof that they left their car at a parking facility. After all if something does happen to it, how do you prove you ever let them “gate check” it without a claim ticket? Some times this gets their attention and if the plane is not too crowded they find a place for it in the cabin. Otherwise its hope for the best.

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