Ryanair is still musicians’ worst airline

Ryanair is currently ranked world’s worst airline for musicians.

This just in from the violinist Abraham Brody:

I am a professional violinist based in London. I travel all the time and sometimes fly with Ryanair. Since a year ago or so they changed their cabin bag allowance so that my violin fit as a carry on. I flew roundtrip with my violin as my carry on to Budapest, Seville, and Lisbon all this year with no problems. But when I flew from Paris Beauvais airport to Barcelona on Wednesday the woman at the Ryanair check in desk stopped me immediately and said ‘You won’t fly with that’.

I showed her that my violin fit the carry on requirements, showed her I bought priority boarding which means they cannot ask me to check my bag, and told her about all my previous flights with violin. She replied ‘ I don’t care, I am the boss here and what I say, you do.’

I was at Beauvais airport far away from Paris, and I had to get to Barcelona that day, so I had no choice but to do what she said and buy an extra seat for 200 EURO for my violin, as checking it would of course be extremely dangerous. She seemed completely out to get me. She then took so long to re-issue me a boarding pass that I almost missed my flight, and when I got on the plane, it wasn’t even full, and the overheads had plenty of space for baggage.

I wrote a complaint letter to Ryanair, stating all the facts and quoting their own rules. All I got a robotic reply stating that basically the people at the check in desk can order you to do whatever they want and you have to follow it, even if the airline rules are different. I got no refund and no sympathy.

The Ryanair policy states that if your cabin baggage fits the size allowance, and you have priority boarding, they cannot ask you to check your bag (or buy a seat for it). Nowhere on their website does it say that if a violin or other instrument is within the cabin baggage size allowance that you must buy a seat for it or check it.

I want to advise all my fellow musicians not to use this terrible airline with both complete disregard for its own rules, as well as its passengers. I would also strongly advise never to use Paris Beauvais airport, where this incident happened, as the service there by staff was both extremely rude and inept. I will never again use Ryanair.

abraham brody

 

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  • In the time it took to write this whining epistle to post on this website you could have made a claim on line against Ryanair using the government’s website Money Claim Online. Try it.

    • I am grateful he took the time to write and share this. I sometimes book flights for musicians. We’ve never liked Ryanair but I did hear that they were being more flexible with smaller instruments. Now I can see they are not.

      • I am very grateful that he shared his Ryan air experience. I stopped flying Ryan after the ylaeft me stranded for 20 hours at an airport 10 years ago. I need to take two pedals and and a voice effects unit into cabin luggage and I think I ‘ll choose a different airline.

      • i too had to buy a seat for my fiddle on a ryanair flight from Luton to Kerry, unfortunately they are the only airline to fly here so have you at their mercy, or not! When i had it on the seat, the air hostess told me to put it into the overhead cabin, i said i would love too, if they refunded me for the seat! it never happened, lol. Also on board were a group of women going to a wedding, and yes you have guessed it, they all had to buy seats for their hats! What is going on mr O’Leary?

  • It’s so infuriating that this still happens. This is the problem for traveling musicians with airlines the world over; it doesn’t matter what the airline’s own rules say, your experience is completely dependent on the whims of the particular employee who confronts you on the day of your flight, and you simply have no recourse.

    And to Peter of the first comment: I assure you that no traveling violinist or violist regards this as a “whining epistle” or a waste of time; rather, it is a much-appreciated warning, in a widely-followed forum, which could save a colleague from potential disaster. You have no reason to suppose that Mr Brody isn’t exploring all avenues, including the one you propose; most of us are grateful that he would take the time to advise others of his experience in the midst of dealing with that.

  • All musicians are kindly and urgently invited to share this on their facebook pages with an invitation to share further. Even a bad management will react to bad publicity.

  • Would it had been an option to put your violin case into a soft bag of the right size? I’m just curious.
    It’s horrible that they treated you this way. The way Ryanair treats its own employees, probably that person was mad at the company and not at you. Not a justification, I know.

  • All musicians reading this should share it on Facebook. Perhaps such negative publicity could bring Ryanair and others to reason.

  • You will have to sue them. That is the only way you will get any money back from them. I know because I have done it.

  • Ryanair gets all the bad press but how many other airlines refuse to allow you to board with your violin. I am terrified not to buy a seat because of the many times airlines have threathened to put my violin in the hold. Even one top airline after buying two seats wanted to take me off the flight and I refused. Fighting seems to have become our second profession. You can fight, complain and reclaim all we like but this is not changing anytime soon! Sometime ago watching on TV the English Government in process I witnessed where a Baroness tried to bring forward a motion on the problem of airlines in general not allowing violins as carry on luggage. The Lords of the House hushed it because they refered to the situation as a Low cost airlines only .which we all know is not true. When you approach any airline desk, low cost or high flying! you are told you are not getting on with that THING! Strad it maybe or not!
    Lots of festivals have been hit hard by violin and instrument students not travelling to festivals and masterclasses but who can afford to buy two seats? Also musicians are not treated or paid for such luxeries as two seats.
    So Ryanair might get bad press but you also know where you stand when you travel with them. It is the bigger airlines who inform you that they allow violins but with the measurments they provide no violin case even without the bow could fit their requirements. So it is a catch twenty two win win for the airlines.
    So book in advance and buy two seats as cheap as possible and still hope they won´t throw you off the plane! And that goes for the very big airlines as well.

  • I saw that Patricia Kopatchinskaja shared this Slipped Disk-post on her Facebook page with an urgent invitation to share this post. After 22 hours she got 132 shares and reached 22’000 people. If every musician would follow her example this would produce a shitstorm that even Ryanair would have difficulty to ignore.Why is everyone so passive?????

    • A sh!tstorm of outrage, if it’s just like-minded people agreeing with each other within a bubble that this is deplorable, has no effect on Ryanair whatsoever. A sh!tstorm of emails to Ryanair corporate headquarters might make a difference; a sh!tstorm of people promising never to fly with Ryanair might as well. I just attempted to post this link on *their* Facebook page; let’s see whether it passes review. Don’t think I’ll hold my breath til it happens…

  • Why don’t we musicians just stay home, organize concerts that we can get to using public transit, and stop whining about how we’re treated when we choose to get on an aeroplane? For those of you to whom this sounds strange, consider that the aeroplane is a mode of travel for people who don’t “get it”.

    • Your answer is very intolerant. Musicians have to travel in order to make a living with their art. Never never shall a musician survive by only organizing or taking part in concerts at home. You seem not to be aware of what it means to be a professional musician. And situation is even worse for classical musicians.
      Regards
      Louis

    • Very sound advice. More fruitful than the rage being directed at RyanAir, though I can understand the frustration.

  • Trains provide a civilized alternative on this particular route. There are direct high-speed connections by day and even night trains. Long gone the whiff of glamour that surrounded flying in the era of the Concorde. These days, we’re all sardines, with or without instruments. Time to rediscover trains! For readers based in England, the “man in Seat 61″‘s website is a great place to start.

  • I don’t see how a violin in a case could be of the approved cabin bag size. It is too long. So if you buy an extra seat there are no problems. I am a cellist and always buy an extra seat when needed and have been a frequent flyer with Ryanair over 10 years or more and am very impressed with the reliability and standard of service. The cost of an extra seat bought well in advance is below the price of most other airlines single seat.
    Mark Caudle

  • Thank you all so much for your help and support. Bratschegirl, I also posted it on their Facebook. Hopefully I will get some kind of response from them.
    Warm wishes

    • In addition to writing a post to their Facebook page, which has to pass through moderation before it sees the light of day, one can also leave a “review” there, which appears directly without moderation. On a computer, the review section appears directly below the profile picture, in the upper left corner. Click on the stars and the option to write a review appears, and there does not appear to be a limitation on length.

  • No-one is forcing any of you to fly with Ryanair.
    There are plenty of airlines.
    You always have a choice.
    If you don’t like Ryanair then fly with someone else.

    • Traveling musicians make decisions about which carrier to choose based on what that carrier’s policy is toward accommodating the instrument that they must bring in order to fulfill their professional obligations. Ryanair explicitly states that violins/violas are welcome as cabin baggage without any extra fees. Why does it not strike you as unfair that they can declare this to be their policy, entice musicians into booking based on it, and then have stated policy ignored and customers overcharged because of the unjustified whims of a particular staff member?

  • Isn’t turning passengers into sardines the core competency not only of Ryanair but of all Economy flights? Personally, I avoid them unless I have to cross an ocean. Trains provide a civilized alternative for short trips like these. There are several direct TGVs a day from Paris to Barcelona as well as a night train. (As seat61.com explains, they don’t necessarily cost more than Ryanair, in terms of both time and money.) Let’s rediscover them before they go the way of the dodo.

  • I think the conclusion is to avoid Economy flights if you have an instrument. Train is the more sane option, and not to be assumed more expensive.
    If absolutely essential to go by plane, buy a seat for the instrument in advance. The seats are fairly cheap.

    • Often when this subject arises, posters who aren’t touring musicians suggest just buying an extra seat. If the airlines were to start forcing customers to either check their laptops or buy an extra seat for them, these same posters would be outraged at the expense of protecting their work tools.

      • But a cello or violin occupies more space than a laptop. Within Europe, the suggestion of rail-travel is very sane.

        • Cellos are another matter. But violins and similarly sized and somewhat larger instruments fit in the overhead. Many airlines exempt these musical instruments from the size limits for carryons. Savvy musicians check airline regulations before booking tickets. But all the same occasionally gate agents overrule their own airline’s rules. That’s what happened to Mr. Brody.

          Gate agents could just as well require tickets for laptops, which, although smaller than violin cases, are larger than other things.

          And indeed, if I am playing a concert that I can get to by train from Cologne in no more than six hours, that’s how I get there. But train travel is often not practical. Check the train connections between, say, Cologne and northern Romania, where I play now and then, or between Cologne and Lisbon. Tours complicate the logistics further.

          • Not to defend Ryanair in the slightest, but actually Ryanair website states this:

            “Smaller musical items such as a cello, guitar, violin or viola which exceed our cabin baggage dimensions may be carried in the cabin if a seat for it has been reserved and the appropriate fare paid”

            The only violin cases that don’t exceed dimensions are the ones where the bow travels separately. I am not sure whether Mr Brody was using one of those, but it’s important to know the rules.

            Some airlines don’t allow instruments in cabin AT ALL.

            Here is Air India policy:

            “Musical instruments will be permitted as part of checked-in baggage only. Such musical instruments may be pooled in the Free Baggage Allowance but if in excess of the Free Baggage allowance, it will be charged as per the applicable excess baggage charges. No musical instruments will be permitted to be carried as Cabin baggage.”

            I had an awful experience once where after many tears they let me take my violin on board, but I had to take the strings off and put them in the checked luggage.

            It would be great to have a blanket policy for all airlines so there would be no doubts for both customers and the employees.

  • Paris airports are shit, and so the people that work there, I always have problems with my cello when I depart from there. Once I was traveling with Airfrance, I was about to do the check in and by the way, the airport was a total mess due to a strike, so most of the flights were delayed, I arrived to the check in place and documented my cello as a bag, they wanted to charge 300 euros for the cello CRAZY, I usually pay no more than 80 euros, I refused to pay that, asked to speak with the manager, he said the same, they were all very very rude to me. I found another person and she agreed to let me pay “only” 200 euros, what kind of policy is that ? by the way, I demanded to talk to customer service and they said “we do not have an office of customer service”, I was in the Charles de G. Airport, sick !

  • Not to defend Ryanair in the slightest, but actually Ryanair website states this:

    “Smaller musical items such as a cello, guitar, violin or viola which exceed our cabin baggage dimensions may be carried in the cabin if a seat for it has been reserved and the appropriate fare paid”

    The only violin cases that don’t exceed dimensions are the ones where the bow travels separately. I am not sure whether Mr Brody was using one of those, but it’s important to know the rules.

    Some airlines don’t allow instruments in cabin AT ALL.

    Here is Air India policy:

    “Musical instruments will be permitted as part of checked-in baggage only. Such musical instruments may be pooled in the Free Baggage Allowance but if in excess of the Free Baggage allowance, it will be charged as per the applicable excess baggage charges. No musical instruments will be permitted to be carried as Cabin baggage.”

    I had an awful experience once where after many tears they let me take my violin on board, but I had to take the strings off and put them in the checked luggage.

    It would be great to have a blanket policy for all airlines so there would be no doubts for both customers and the employees.

    • Well presented Maia B. We may not like the rules but that is what the rules say. Can we try to come to an agreement with airlines – YES – But bullying our rights no matter how unfair thoses rules seem to us will not come to anything. Business is business for the airlines. Dialogue is an adventure, an adventure available to anyone. And sometimes it’s an adventure whose outcome can change history. Only through educated dialogue will we change the history of instruments as carry on luggage.

      • Budget airline prices are not exactly exorbitant.
        It’s a small penance to have to buy a seat for a cello or a violin.

  • Got well fucked by them when I was in charge of a group of musicians and dancers a few yrs ago coming from Sicily. I even advised against using them to the guy booking the flights before hand. We had a connecting Ryanair flight back to Dublin from Milan. At the last minute they delayed the flight to Milan,with an inevitable cancelation to follow. They said the plane had been hit by lightning. Someone else( one of the parents of one of the kids) called the airport to ask them what the problem was,they got an answer saying there was a problem with the runway or something,regardless,it was
    different.They control that particular airport totally. We figured that it was because of the low number of passengers travelling on that flight,which I still think to be true. Our only chance of flying from there to Milan without charge,and at all, was to go the following morning on the same time flight. We of course missed our flight from Milan,even though it was a Ryanair flight we were forced to pay for new flights out of our own pockets because ,well of course, they don’t do connecting flights,it’s part of their policy. I made complaints to everyone I could,aviation people,emails etc, regarding it. It didn’t make a jot of difference.No-body could do a thing unless Ryanair admitted they had done something wrong. They had it sown up so that they couldn’t be found accountable for anything. They are the biggest shower of C#$TS in the industry and will fuck you over without blinking.

  • I booked an extra bag for guitar at Bournmouth Airport. When I arrived at the airport they fined me £120 before they allowed me on . I have since heard that the staff at check in are on commission to get extra money fro these situations.
    Don’t use RyanAir they will never change.

  • I am guitarist and before I had also problems with carry on my guitar. Ok, flamenco guitar is bigger than violin. All these crap airlines are very very unfriendly with musicians. Since a long time I always book an extra seat because no way to risk my instrument which is worth more (to me) than all the ryanair’s crappy planes together. Sad but what we can do…
    Buying extra seat even if always plenty of enough storage space on the planes.
    Ryanair, Wizzair, BA…all the same shit. The difference with BA, you can book extra seat only via phone and you won’t be charged for tax so the extra seat will be tax free..

  • I am fullyconversant with all the issues outlined above and have been that soldier. Just wondering now about getting a strong and tight fitting flight case and putting the precious in the hold. Would that work?

  • Would it be an idea to have the violin case snugly inside a strong flight case that could go in the hold? I have personally experienced all the horrors eloquently outlined above.

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