British Airways makes new pledge to fly violins

British Airways makes new pledge to fly violins


norman lebrecht

October 31, 2017

Frankie Hutchinson, Tours & Projects Manager of the London Symphony Orchestra, has persuaded British Airways to make clear on their website exactly which instruments passengers can carry as hand luggage.

Here is the new policy:

You can bring your musical instruments with you when you travel with us.

You can take small musical instruments in the cabin as part of (but not in addition to) your free hand baggage allowance, subject to the space available. We will make every effort to accommodate your violin or viola in its hard case in the cabin, even if the case is slightly larger than our maximum baggage size, as we know temperature and pressure can damage these instruments in the hold.

Larger musical instruments, such as guitars and cellos, can be carried in the hold or you can buy an extra seat to carry them with you in the cabin.

Please always transport musical instruments in a hard case. We cannot accept instruments, such as guitars, in soft cases as we don’t want them to get damaged.

And here is the website link.

Print this out and carry it with you when you fly BA.

Thanks, Frankie!


  • Nick says:

    Is this really an “agreement”? The first words of this sentence leaves room for some doubt – “We will make every effort to accommodate . . .” Every effort do s not equate to “will accommodate” in my book!

    • Bruce says:

      It sounds to me like they are not “promising” to take every violin or viola that comes along, but simply promising that their company policy will be not to be a-holes about it.

      Of course they can’t promise in advance that every individual employed by them will be a sympathetic, reasonable person. The proof will come (if it comes) when someone’s instrument is refused on a flight that has ample room in the overhead bins, in spite of the musician having a printed copy of the rules… and the airline disciplines the employee for violating company policy.

  • bratschegirl says:

    Awaiting the first post about BA staff ignoring this eminently sensible policy in 5… 4… 3…

  • LEO says:

    The permitted by BA length of the musical instruments case is 56 cm!? The violin bow is around 74 cm and the shortest violin case can be no less than 76 cm Was this “agreement “made to accommodate conductors with their batons?

  • bratschegirl says:

    Leo’s absolutely correct. Right after they say they’ll make “every effort” to accommodate violins and violas, they go on to say:

    “If your musical instrument in its case is larger than 56 x 45 x 25cm (22 x 18 x 10in):

    It will be checked into the hold as part of your checked baggage allowance.”

    Every violin and viola case is longer than 22 inches, and a good deal more than “slightly” so. This is no good to violinists/violists whatsoever.

    • Mikey says:

      he! me viola case is 79cm (31 inches) long, and just the instrument itself is 70cm (27.5 inches). So much for any air travel with my baby.

  • Robert King says:

    The “Trinity” violin case (which an increasing number of violinists use) is 62cm long, and as far as I’m aware that’s the shortest violin case on the market (the bows ingeniously go in a separate case which forms the handle of the bag). I don’t want to tempt fate, but I haven’t [yet] heard of an insuperable problem with a player flying with their instrument in this style of case as it is small and doesn’t look like an instrument case. (But we all still await the invention of an inflatable viola). More details at

  • Raphael Solomon says:

    Nice picture of Katherine Jenkins. Is it under copyright? Did you secure the rights to post it online?

    • Max Grimm says:

      If you had simply googled ‘Katherine Jenkins, British Airways’, you could have spared yourself asking those questions.

    • Nick says:

      Jumping to conclusions here. It’s from an official BA promo video that has been extensively used in many countries. Any copyright will belong to BA.

  • Edgar says:

    Keeping fingers crossed for the traveling artists. It is challenging to trust an airline these days as too many friendly sky promises haven been neglected and broken.

  • Leo says:

    It always was like that. Then some companies decided to squeeze a little juice out of musicians. Actually, I do not exclude the possibility that those bans on violins onboard started from some culture alien to the European (with more than enough representatives in ailines). Then musicians started sqealing and right they were, cellos always required extra ticket (poor ones) and violin does not interfere with anythong onboard.
    So now it comes to where it started with everyone cautiously happy.
    As in a joke about a jew complaining about life and a rabby advising him to take a goat home and consequently throw it out feeling the relief.

  • Richard Savage says:

    To provide some context here and, we hope, some comfort for travelling instrumentalists, there have been many exchanges recently between various people in BA, the LSO and Specialised Travel about this issue and they are ongoing. Without warning, BA removed some of their website wording and then, after requests from the LSO and us, reinstated it as above. We are still talking to BA about ways to improve the wording to try to reduce inconsistencies and anomalies.