Airline softens ban on violins

Airline softens ban on violins


norman lebrecht

February 07, 2016

One swallow does not make springtime, but we’ve received this encouraging report from Fiona Stevens, one of many travellers who are alarmed at Air Berlin’s ban on violins. Fiona writes:

This morning my colleague Daniel Deuter flew from Munich to Berlin with Air Berlin and with a viola.

He wrote to me:
“When I had checked in I asked for the ‘accepted cabin baggage tag’ for my viola case. The check-in agent made a phone call, asked whether this would be possible, and confirmed that I would be able to take the viola on board”.

This is the kind if news we have all been waiting for and I sincerely hope it is the result of Air Berlin’s decision to reconsider their policy regarding violins and violas as hand luggage. Thank you Air Berlin at this point!

In my case for Tuesday I still require written confirmation that I will be able to board with a violin as I am directing a rehearsal immediately after I land (literally – taxi from the airport, it starts when I get there) and cannot afford to miss the flight.

I do hope I will receive this, or that Air Berlin will issue a general statement revising their hand luggage policy for musical instruments.

air berlin viola


  • Fiona Stevens says:

    Thank you for covering this story. I really hope Air Berlin will change their policy re violins and violas on board

  • Scott Fields says:

    Did Air Berlin soften its policy or did a check-in agent go rogue?

  • Nicholas says:

    Thank you so much Norman, for posting this very valuable information – and thank you to Fiona for supporting this. I wonder if it would be possible to forward on Air Berlin’s enlightened, intelligent and supportive approach to this really difficult problem for travelling musicians, to other rather less cooperative companies?

    It’s bad enough facing the stress and and worry of being a functioning travelling performer without adding to the feeling of worry and insecurity which is engenered by conflicting and sometimes completely contradictory advice about how to arrange air travel with an instrument.

    It seems to me that, with so many strictures about travel due to security arrangements, many flight company personnel – themselves under stress – simply view the need to provide safe transit for instruments as a dispensible luxury. If I were one of them, and not a professional musician, I could easily feel the same way. It’s that odd dichotomy amongst many that promotes the view that classical musicians are rich, independently wealhty people with seemingly enough money to possess an instrument of large monetery value – say, like Gucci handbag.

  • Peter says:

    As long as they don’t revise their policy it will be Russian roulette to fly with Air Berlin. There still are agate agents who demonstrate common sense, but such qualities are rarer and rarer.
    Officially they still clearly exclude musical instruments outside of the standard carry on luggage measurements. Seats must be bought for violins and anything even bigger.

  • Christian Atanasiu says:

    I live in Düsseldorf, AirBerlin’s hub, And as a result Fly with them regularly. I’ve never had the slightest problem bringing both my viola (in a Large riboni case) as well as a small wheeled suitcase as carry-one, even on their small, 4 across turboprop planes.
    After seeing the problems they’ve caused this week, I’ll be holding off on flying with them, but this is cause for some hope, at least.