Airline breaks violin promise

Airline breaks violin promise


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2016

Early this year Slipped Disc published the following assurance from Air Berlin, welcoming violins and other small instruments on board as hand luggage:

‘Passenger’s satisfaction matters for AirBerlin … after listening to feedback from passengers, the AirBerlin group is updating its hand baggage regulations for violins and similarly-sized musical instruments… One piece of hand luggage is always included on each flight … [and] passengers will soon be able to take their musical instrument aboard as a piece of hand baggage – with maximum dimensions of 86cm x 33cm x 23 cm.’

The Mahler Chamber Orchestra had trouble boarding violins last week, so violinist Michael Brooks Reid went on to the Air Berlin website and found the policy had not changed at all. Seeking clarification, this is what he was told by their customer service centre:


Dear Mr Brooks Reid,

Thank you for your e-mail.

It is possible to take your musical instruments on board. Therefor it is necessary to book an Extra Seat for the instrument during your booking.

Please note, that even if your request is accepted, the captain reserves the right to make changes and decide that the transport be made in the hold, if he considers that the security of the passengers is compromised.

If you have any further questions or queries, please feel free to contact our team at any time.


Kind regards

B. Wielpütz
Service Team airberlin group

Moral of the story: Don’t believe Air Berlin. Better still, don’t fly them.

luggage airberlin


  • Rosana Martins says:

    Airlines administrors should take into consideration all the bad publicity they are receiving by discriminating violins and other musical instruments on board. They should remember all the music lovers who fly as well.

    • Thomas Koch says:

      Air Berlin has no clue about musical instruments and their importance to a musician. If you fly with them, you are in their hands, and at their mercy. Since twenty years, I fly from the US to Europe and back on Air Berlin and formerly with the now defunct LTU. While leaving the US from the small airport of Fort Myers in Florida never caused a problem – my classical guitar was allowed for free as carry on – the return from Düsseldorf was and is each and every time a nightmare. You can never predict what they are going to tell you. Or should I say, feel like doing at the moment. After mentioning that I arrived with the guitar as carry on in Germany just four weeks prior, I was randomly told: the rules have changed, does not fit in overhead, free gate check, pay for gate check, free oversized luggage, pay for oversized luggage, buy extra seat. Fees ranged from 50 to 90 Euros for the same guitar. It made no sense. Did I mention that I buy four seats total for my family each and every trip?

  • Brian says:

    Regardless of the issue (and I do remember the good old days when I could take my violin on board without any problem), I am not at all sure about this boycott appeal, expressed here in the words “don’t fly them”. It rhymes with “don’t buy them”. And sentences that start with “Kauft nicht bei” were never any good, as we all know.