It’s getting worse: Airport bus refuses to board violin

It’s getting worse: Airport bus refuses to board violin


norman lebrecht

March 06, 2017

From Mandhira De Saram, violinist at the Ligeti Quartet:

(This is the) 2nd time National Express Coaches has not allowed me on A6 coach to London Stansted Airport with travelsize violin case.

8.58am from Finchley Rd driver was so incredibly rude that other passengers on this already late service supported me.


  • Jaybuyer says:

    Complain, complain, complain! This farce really should be sorted out once and for all!

  • Simon-Philippe Allard says:

    This happened to me with the Flyer bus at Bristol Airport. I made a complaint and received an apology mostly because the driver was rude but they won’t change their policy. I had to put my violin with all the rest of the bulky luggage out of my sight. Anyone could have taken it away. Also, mlre recently, the cellist in our trio had trouble getting his cello on Megabus from Cardiff to London even if we bought a ticket for the cello. Finally, it appeared that the driver was overzealous… Another representative gave us the authorization as an ‘exception to the rule’… However, on the way back (London – Cardiff) no questions asked and no problem at all carrying the cello on the bus. I am surprised that there has been an issue with National Express… I guess it all depends on the driver.

    • V.Lind says:

      As it often depends on the check-in and gate staff or cabin crews on the planes. It should NOT depend on these people. It should depend on company policy, end of. What the hell has to be done to get people informed as to what their employers’ policies are? And to adhere to them? There have been stories here of musicians brandishing copies of the official policy in their hands and still being denied.

      Answer to above question: pay them properly, train them properly, treat them properly. All too many seem resentful of their jobs, and if they are underpaid, undertrained and and undervalued, it is little wonder.

      Whatever happened to customer service as a business concept?

  • Srin says:

    Violins for professionals are regularly tens of thousands of pounds. The instruments are not replaceable since even if you have insurance and it would cover it, they are one-of-a-kind. The issue is not whether someone has a hard case or not. Can they guarantee that the instrument will be safe, that it will not be stolen, that it will be handled properly, and that it will be arranged with the other luggage so it’s not sliding around and hitting the dividers in the luggage compartment?

    You can sit in cars and buses with a violin case between your knees if there’s really no other space. It doesn’t take up a seat of its own or compromise the comfort of other passengers. There’s no reason not to allow them.

  • Mandhira de Saram says:

    I think the MU will negotiate with National Express for a better policy. My violin has been kindly loaned to me and is worth 100s of thousands, so no way I could put in hold for insurance reasons. I would like to think that I can still travel on coaches without being shouted at by the driver!

  • Carola says:

    I bought two tickets, one for me and one for my cello. I always take the national express to the airport. The driver was extremely rude and I had to leave the cello in the baggage hold, otherwise I am not allowed to take the coach, he said. I have to catch the flight so I had no other option. What makes me angry, the bus is half empty. I payed for the extra seat and yes it’s insured in a hard case but that doesn’t protect it. An instrument is like your better half so of course you care! I am sad that this bus driver has to be so rude to feel better. I hope the change the ploolicy soon. If I want to take my cello on the plane I have to pay for an extra ticket so why doesn’t it work like that with national express?