Air rage? Air Canada loves my cello

Air rage? Air Canada loves my cello


norman lebrecht

July 28, 2019

A response from Brian Yoon to last week’s cello horror tale. Brian is principal cello at the Victoria Symphony.

In Canada, there is currently only one major airline that allows an extra seat to be reserved to transport one’s cello: Air Canada. After more than twenty successful round trips with a cello as carry-on baggage, I am sharing my experience in hopes of helping out fellow cellists who choose (or are forced) to use this carrier.

A. Booking the extra seat

From the Air Canada website:

“You may bring your musical instrument on board as part of your carry-on baggage provided it meets the current Air Canada carry-on size requirements and:

the instrument fits in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you, or
you purchase a seat to accommodate it….

Read on here.




  • V.Lind says:

    I don’t think they are the only airline to offer such terms on their websites.The problem, as reported last week and elsewhere over the years, is recalcitrant ground crews or cabin crews, who are either unfamiliar with the rules of the carrier or who, in a bad temper or some other reason for a bad day, take out their frustrations on travellers whose requirements are irregular or requiring extra attention.

    A lot of this goes back to disgruntled employees, under-trained and probably underpaid, who clearly do not know the rules and are unprepared to brook disagreement with their fiats in a world in which they have little incentive to put service to the customer first.

    Times have changed. I once found myself due to change planes in relatively short order at the very busy Toronto airport, when it was discovered that my second leg was marked as being at 9:00 A.M. rather than P.M. on the same day — in other words, I had missed it. As it was the last connecting flight of the day to my destination, I was somewhat panicked. To have returned to a desk to make my case and get a new ticket would have cost me the time required to check in, to a plane clearly carrying my luggage, so a sympathetic check-in staffer, quickly summing up that it was not my fault as I could not catch a connecting plane a few hours earlier than the first leg I had taken, noted the facts on her copy of my ticket and issues me the boarding pass. He worked for Air Canada itself, rather than being a contractor, was clearly properly trained to grasp a traveller’s problem and dedicated to finding a solution.

    That, and the many other kindnesses and services I have received from Air Canada — and other airlines — over the years are clearly things of the past.

  • drummerman says:

    Let’s hope that the gate personnel and flight attendants are familiar with these rules.

  • Rupert Paton says:

    If it sits on the over-head or underneath the seat! Do us a favour!

    • Bruce says:

      That’s for musical instruments in general, not cellos specifically. My flute (in my carry-on bag) fits under the seat easily.

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    After a half-century of warfare with airlines, I travel with a contemporary instrument in an Accord double flight case and check it into the luggage compartment. The whole thing weighs 12 kilograms. I am so much happier (and richer).

  • Jacob Shaw says:

    This is all correct and great advice: However only relevant when traveling on routes that Air Canada fly with their own planes.
    Unfortunately does not work when airlines are codeshared (for example first leg being AC and the next leg(s) United). And this is a major problem, because no airline in the world flies from every point A to every point B, therefore codeshares are always going to exist.
    Which means that problems between airlines are always going to exist, unless they use their “alliance” systems for useful communication….

    • Brian Yoon says:

      I completely understand the complications that arise with codeshares. Cellists will recall the story about Paul Katz who was on an American Airlines codeshare flight operated by WestJet (AA allows cellos on board, WJ currently does not). The article is obviously limited in scope; I was mostly trying to address the restrain net!

  • emanuele says:

    play ocarina and flight problems disappear 🙂 (kidding of course)