Don’t fly Airberlin. They really hate violins.

Don’t fly Airberlin. They really hate violins.


norman lebrecht

February 21, 2016

The airline has decided to claw back the concession it made for a while, allowing violin and viola players to carry their instruments on board. Now it is back to demanding a full extra fare for small instruments.

On 18 February, a Slipped  Disc reader emailed Air Berlin with our post on their concession, asking them for a policy ruling. Their policy is unambiguous: you must buy an extra seat, unless your violin is 55x40x23cm (which, of course, it never is).

Other readers have received similar guidance. Our advice: take another plane.

Airberlin have just rejoined the list of world’s worst airlines.

Here’s the rule:

Sehr geehrter Herr X

vielen Dank für Ihre E-Mail.

Wenn Sie ihr Musikinstrument mit in die Kabine nehmen möchten, müssen Sie telefonisch oder persönlich an einem Airberlin Schalter einen Extra Seat buchen. Ansonsten müssten Sie sich an unsere Handgepäckmaße halten,  55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm / max. 8Kg.

Zögern Sie bitte nicht, sich bei Rückfragen an uns zu wenden.

Ich wünsche Ihnen einen schönen Tag und verbleibe mit freundlichen Grüßen

Ihr P. Engelberg
Service Team airberlin group

Air Berlin PLC & Co. Luftverkehrs KG
Saatwinkler Damm 42-43
D-13627 Berlin



  • Scott Fields says:

    As commenters pointed out in the two earlier Air-Berlin-related posts, there never was a “concession.” Apparently a check-in agent bent the rules for a traveller or two. But Air Berlin has been unwavering since changing its rules in December.

  • alvaro says:

    But wait….wasn’t Slippedisc the all powerful mover and shaker that changed European policy on major corporations and conglomerates regarding the use of instruments in planes?

    What happened?

  • Peter says:

    Air Berlin has a new CEO for a year, Stefan Pichler. The airline’s recent restrictive stand on cabin luggage is due to his aggressive approach to turn the airline back into the profit zone quickly. I doubt he will succeed this way.
    8 kg max for hand luggage?
    Most American and many European airlines have no such silly restrictions. A business trolley weighs empty easily 5 kg. And now also the crack down on these pesky musicians with their instruments.
    Air Berlin is heading right for bankruptcy, if they scare their customers away like this.

  • Tarik says:

    Air Berlin is one of Germany’s leading airlines in terms of safety and service. I want to fly with an airline to arrive securely, not for free, of course not.

    • Peter says:

      Nobody wanted to fly for free, so why are you inventing that straw man?
      Air Berlin is NOT leading as far as service is concerned, that’s the whole point of this discussion.
      They are clearly SUBSTANDARD, when many airlines allow reasonably sized musical instruments like violins as carry on without additional charges, but Air Berlin decides to make their customer’s life harder. Shortsighted, will make them lose a lot of customers from the frequent flying music community (which is also very talkative to each other…).

      They would be a leading airline again, if they manage to adapt their carry on restrictions to the real world.

      -lift the carry-on weight limit to at least 12 kg or better to 23 kg like British Airways, or no weight limit altogether, like Easyjet and all American airlines.
      -allow musical instruments that fit easily in the overhead bins like violins etc.

      And if you think musicians are rich and can afford to pay for an extra seat easily, have another reality check. Most of the freelancing musicians hopping around from gig to gig are making absolutely not much money. It’s the musicians who fly economy, who can not afford to pay for an extra seat.

    • Scott Fields says:

      What this means for me, Tarik, is that a 200-euro seat on Air Berlin has now become a 400-euro seat, since my fits-in-the-overhead-and-weighs-less-than-8-kilos-in-case classical guitar now must have its own seat.

      When booking flights I keep the real price in mind. The other German airlines, Lufthansa and GermanWings (Euroair), don’t charge extra to allow my instrument to be carried on. Now that Air Berlin has effectively doubled its prices for me, the others are actually cheaper.

      • Anon says:

        And on top of that, Air Berlin charges for a violin seat also full fuel surcharges (in times of the lowest oil price int he decade). Shows you what they are up to. Screw their customers.

  • Mark Tatlow says:

    Maybe the answer (for violinists at least) is to invest in this interesting case:
    A timely development!