Bloody airline cracks down on instruments

Bloody airline cracks down on instruments


norman lebrecht

December 13, 2019

The clarinettist Sarah Watts has discovered that the British airline FlyBe has changed its rules on carrying instruments on board.

She tells us:

The 100x30x30 measurements for instruments allowed in the cabin has disappeared from their website. Now it’s standard cabin baggage allowance only.

I tweeted them to check this as I fly a lot with them with my bass clarinet that fits in this allowance and they have confirmed they no longer welcome musical instruments with the larger instrument allowance.

Avoid FlyBe for the moment until they sort themselves out.

UPDATE: They won’t. Here’s their sneaky new policy.

Dear Sarah
Our Ref: 191213 – 000558
Thank you for your email to my colleague Rebecca, regarding the carrying of musical instruments onboard our flights.  Please accept my apologies on behalf of Flybe for the issues that you have encountered.
We are currently investigating this matter internally and we will contact you again in due course once we have concluded our investigations.

Thank you for your patience and please be assured that either myself or one of my colleagues will contact you with a full response in due course.

Kind regards

Malcolm Davidson
Customer Support Executive


  • V. Lind says:

    Sounds as if they have sorted themselves out. Not wanted on the voyage.

  • anon says:

    Switch to a normal size clarinet.

    • John Marshall says:

      Sorry but what an ignorant comment-little wonder your are ‘anon’
      I wonder if you’re related to a music shop assistant I encountered while still at school.I asked if she had the music for a particular Beethoven sonata I was instructed to purchase/study at the time and I still recall her reply as-“sorry,we’ve no Beethoven left will Bach do”?

      • anon says:

        Sorry, Beethoven and Bach wrote no music for bass clarinet, so neither will do.

        • MusicBear88 says:

          And Bach wrote nothing for the regular clarinet unless you count things like Mendelssohn’s arrangement of St Matthew Passion where he gives the oboe d’amore and oboe da caccia parts to clarinets. In the former case, it even keeps the parts in the same key.

        • John Marshall says:

          Well,well-although Bach wrote no music for clarinet there is evidence to suggest that both Handel and Vivaldi wrote music for the instrument-then in it’s infancy of course.
          However,the evolution of the’bass tube’/bass chalumeau/bass clarinet only emerged in the 1770’s and I have good reason to believe that Ludwig van himself dabbled with the ‘beast’ in some of his compositions for wind/military ensemble.
          PS: a monkey-not hiding under ‘anon’-would have known that the instrumental music I was requesting back in the day was for one of the great man’s PIANO sonatas!

      • piano lover says:

        Silly comment indeed-she might as well have answered “THEY BOTH BEGIN WITH THE SAME LETTER” so go ahead.

    • Jeff says:

      Oh my God people, it’s a joke! I laughed when I first read it. Ugh, today’s world…..

  • Mr. Knowitall says:

    “Avoid FlyBe,” you say. Fly on what instead? It seems that all of the budget airlines (as well as some of the anti-budget airlines) have gone this way .

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Obviously carrying musical instruments with airlines remains an ongoing problem. Might I suggest SD contact one of the major carriers and ask them to provide clarification here on this site, which is read by lots of people in the music business. If they’ve got nothing to hide they’ll surely agree. Worth a try.

    • V. Lind says:

      Getting “one of the major carriers” to clarify a policy is useless. Most of them have written policies — on their websites, etc. — that are routinely ignored by ground and cabin staff, despite travelling musicians waving print-outs of the web information or even letters from the airline in their faces.

      What is needed is an industry-wide address of the problem, which will require major mainstream media interest — I agree that SD could possibly influence some element thereof to take the issue up. I should say problems: some airlines have good policies, but there is still the matter of getting their staffs to honour them.

      Meanwhile, FlyBe has stated and confirmed a policy. At least there is no ambiguity about their position, and any musician trying to get around it — who may indeed get lucky — will BE lucky. Any who is refused exceptions has only him/herself to blame, as the company has been clear, even if its decision is unwelcome.

  • Katmusswoodwind says:

    Of course all know how ill-suited the hold is for instruments generally (extreme temperatures, eg, can cause wood to crack and even brass can suffer), not to mention the stupidity of some baggage handlers regarding actually putting the items on flights. I refer you to an article about my own bass clarinet going missing in November 2015!

  • Malcolm Davidson says:

    Weirdly I argued for the instruments but some people r so shallow n have no idea

  • Malcolm Davidson says:

    Flybe was never and never did advertise as a budget airline. It was people like Sarah and all the other cash grabbers that’s cost hundreds of people their jobs. Well done. I hope you are proud. Flybe were the most punctual UK domestic airline and had been recognised as such. But people these days think thatbthey have the right to b a keyboard warrior. I say shame on you and because of people like u this country is doomed. Terms and conditions arte publically available. If u don’t like them then book elsewhere. Its so simple