Yes, it’s them, again. Oh, Canada.
British cellist Richard Harwood tried to book a seat for his instrument on Air Canada. They got out the tape measure and said, No.
Here’s, what Richard tells us:
In need of booking a direct flight with my cello from Toronto to San Francisco, I looked at Air Canada. I thought Air Canada’s musical instrument policy, after the viola debacle in October 2014, might be a safe bet as it used to state: ‘A cello may be accepted as checked baggage, or may be transported in the cabin if a seat is purchased for it.’ That’s pretty clear. You buy a seat – it gets on.
However, the policy has been changed to read:’In some cases, a seat may also be purchased for these instruments. Contact Air Canada Reservations for more information.’
So, that’s what I did. Contact them. And after dealing with someone that really had no idea, I got through to the North American office and spoke to someone who seemed to know the process (a BA type process), how to hold the reservation and how to send off the booking to the pricing and seating departments. All looking good. I gave my usual “safe” cello dimensions with a height of 120cm (cello cases are actually a little over 130cm) and received the following reply back stating I can only purchase an extra seat for a cello if the height is less than 74cm. Unless I’m going to go back to a quarter size cello, that’s going to be a tall order.
So, essentially, a cello dimension policy which restricts any cello playing adult. And a cello dimension that lists a height that is actually the length of a violin case. Since receiving the e-mail, I have spoken to Air Canada, explaining that I think they may have got their dimensions wrong and are very possibly providing me with a violin case length. And I asked them to check. However, after a long time on hold, I was told in no uncertain terms that, if my cello is larger than 74cm x 41cm x 43cm, it will not be able to travel with Air Canada. So, essentially, that rules out all cellos.
In the interest of clarity, I’ve included a screenshot of the e-mail I was sent. I may have dodged a bullet though as this is how Air Canada, unique across all air travel, secure cellos: