British Airways changes cello rules

British Airways changes cello rules


norman lebrecht

March 07, 2016

A rare change for the better. Richard Harwood tells us:

Last night, I was told by a member of cabin crew that the previously unique and crazy BA method of securing cellos is now a thing permanently left in the past. No ropes and none of the recent multiple belt methods. Even more importantly, nobody ever coming on board to tie it in for you! The cabin attendant showed me the document that was released in December 2015 to all cabin staff detailing the new policy which came in to effect on January 1st, 2016.

“With effect from 1st January 2016 a new procedure will be introduced to be used when securing a cello in a seat. This procedure has been developed in conjunction with our ground teams and is based on customer feedback.”

“Cellos (and similar instruments) will be secured by the owning passenger. The passenger will receive securing information as part of the booking process. The procedure requires the use of a single extension seatbelt. The images show correct positioning. The seat utilised must always be a window seat (excluding emergency exit rows) with the passenger occupying the adjacent seat. The seat must be in an upright position with armrests down, ensure seat cushion is stood upright, behind the main body of the cello. The cello head must NOT be resting on the floor. Assistance should be offered if required.”


Here are BA’s instructions for all classes of travel.…/sporting-…/onboard-cello.pdf

cello airline

no more this


  • Marianne Dumas says:

    Great news! Lufthansa still uses the rope sometimes.
    Here is a post I wrote for fellow cellists about the extra seat :

  • Robert King says:

    Well done BA for listening to its customers. This huge improvement will save about 15 minutes on the flight ground schedule every time that the previous impressively complicated “cats cradle” of blue rope was created. In the event of a sudden stop or descent, a cello weighs around 10kg: an adult (also restrained by a seat belt and quite possibly out of his/her seat) weighs 55-80kg. Another good reason to fly orchestras on BA – they are still listening to us.

  • Richard Savage says:

    Delighted with this; cellists will need to ensure they’re at the front of the queue as soon as boarding commences. Booking a cello seat and reserving a suitable window seat in advance is still not straightforward. Before we intervened, BA’s intended policy was to take celli away from the player at check in and have their staff carry them to the plane to be strapped in. We pointed out that cellists would never agree to this and that BA would never have enough available staff; the London Cello Orchestra flew on BA with 20+ celli on one flight!

  • Max says:

    NONE of this would be necessary if they just concentrated their efforts on the incompetent cretins that check baggage onto the planes. I know they’re on a time frame, but it’s possible. I used to work for UPS and their shipping hubs move thousands of boxes ranging from 2 lbs to 70 lbs in a four-hour window of time. And they get paid a LOT less than unionized baggage handlers for a major airline.
    It’s possible, and should be handled accordingly.

    • Kevin says:

      Was it really necessary to call a whole body of workers “incompetent cretins’ to help you make your point?

    • Scott Fields says:

      But UPS infamous for damaging instruments. Luthiers guitar dealers, and musicians I know insist on FedEx.

  • Iris says:

    Well, this is good news. Only flew with them 1 time, and they wanted to strap in my cello, without me. I talked to the person actually doing the strapping and asked how he was planning to strap my cello … He said upside down. I told him that was totally unacceptable ( even though today with my accord case it might be ok, since the cello is totally unmovable in the case… No pressure on the scroll or on anything) … Anyway, he did strap it in upright, and did an ok job, but I don’t know what would have happened if I did not specifically talk to the person….

  • Ivan Kelsall says:

    There still seems to be no ‘absolute’ ruling regarding the taking of a Violin / Mandolin sized instrument on board. Currently,if one of the case dimensions exceeds that of the ”allowed baggage” size,then you could be asked to check it in to be carried in the baggage hold,& we all know what that means !!!.

    • Mike Gannon says:

      Hello Ivan,
      Do you remember your apprenticeship at AVRO Chadderton and initially your God, Buddy Holly? Your conversion to Blue Grass coincided with the TV programme the “Beverley Hillbillies”. Your first banjo, found in a skip with no strings which you had restrung, that was the start of your success and I am happy that you carried on to a level that was in you. How did I find out this? I was in hospital for an operation and a young nurse told me she had seen a fabulous blue grass musician at the MSG. I said I knew one who was an AVRO employee and she asked me who it was and I told her your name and she was ecstatic. So was I. Small world isn’t it. Mike Gannon