Be warned: German airlines tighten up on violins

Be warned: German airlines tighten up on violins


norman lebrecht

October 22, 2019

From Mihaela Martin:

Dear violinists and violists , at Eurowings/Germanwings they changed the regulations , now they don’t accept instruments as hand luggage on board unless they fit within the measurements of cabin baggage.
So, avoid it !!!!!
They let me take the violin onboard today after I paid 30€ ( no extra seat, though).

Here we go again….


  • Nik says:

    Why the plural in the headline? The article refers only to one airline (Germanwings being a legacy name that appears on some Eurowings aircraft).

  • Mr. Knowitall says:

    Thanks for alerting us to Eurowings’ change in policy, Mihaela. Last night I looked at their new rules, which for me and my colleagues are much worse than the old ones.

    Instruments “no larger than a guitar” and in a soft case used to be allowed as free carryons for Germanwings and Eurowings.

    Now a seat must be purchased or the instrument has to be checked in. Making matters worse, there is a 50-euro surcharge (on top of their baggage fee) for checking in musical instruments.

    That said, the rules also say that some musical instruments that aren’t much larger than their carryon size limits can still be carried on for free.

    The Eurowings wording “Yes, musical instruments can be carried as hand luggage if their size does not exceed 55 x 40 x 23 cm. The following musical instruments can be taken on board as hand luggage, even if they are slightly over the maximum size: clarinets, flutes, French horns, oboes, violins, trumpets.

    Your check in agent may not have understood the new rules.

    • V.Lind says:

      Well, that would be nothing new. When is something going to be done about this? In the great scheme of things, musicians probably represent a tiny percentage of all flyers, but if they got themselves organised they might well be an influential group.

      These individual complaints are — to some extent — useful as alerts. But the airline industry needs to set rules of engagement that recognise a professional problem that they can solve 1) by declaring clearly what their planes can and will handle and 2) telling their staff and contractors to bloody well follow those rules. ALL THE TIME.

    • Bruce says:

      I will make a guess that, as usual, the airline’s official wording is entirely dependent on the knowledge, understanding, and mood of the person at the check-in desk.

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        Before I fly, I print a copy and store a PDF on my phone of the airline’s most recent policy regarding musical instruments. Sometimes that helps.

        • V.Lind says:

          We’ve had this comment, and recommendations to do that very thing, anecdotally countless times on SD. It’s your word “sometimes” that I would like to see eradicated. It does not affect me directly as I only once flew with an instrument — a guitar in a case, which was handled sensitively and carefully — and warmly — by Air Canada — but I am empathetic to this endless problem for musicians.

          I am sick of reading yet another alert about airlines that treat travelling musicians with contempt, usually dealt out by surly and uninformed and defiant and couldn’t-care-less ground staff and cabin crews. About musicians who proffer the very documents you recommend only to have them ignored. Of musicians forced to miss flights, pay for others, unable to recover any losses.

          Surely this industry is regulated to some extent. Can’t something be organised? Can’t someone with history of travel problems interest someone in the real press? This is a story that is much less serious than lorries full of dead migrants, high street retail job losses, knife crime, climate crisis, the abuse of the Kurds resulting from one politician’s arrogant insolence, let alone the Brexit nonsense. But it is a professional workers’ issue, one that might be soluble if tackled. It needs to be on Panorama or 60 Minutes or The Fifth Estate or in one of the major dailies or news magazines.

          Someone of influence needs to step up.

          • Mr. Knowitall says:

            In the USA, that’s exactly what happened. The AFM and individuals lobbied Congress until regulations were enacted that force airlines to accept musical instruments that fit in the overhead for no additional charge. The EU is on the same path, but moving slowly.

  • The grim says:

    I would avoid German/Eurowings anyway. After one mishap with the family the phone support told me that I get what you pay for (he was refreshingly frank). Unfortunately many routes LH used to fly you have no other choice…