Poles refuse to fly a Stradivarius

Poles refuse to fly a Stradivarius


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2023

The Polish violinist Janusz Wawrowski reports a distressing experience with his national airline LOT while trying to fly home to Warsaw from Vilnius airport on Sunday.

LOT staff refused point bank to let him board with his 1685 Stradivarius violin.

‘The ground staff presented me with two options: put the instrument in the luggage compartment below deck or stay in Vilnius; showing no understanding of the violin’s value. The LOT lady said that “we’ll see if it gets damaged in the hold”‘.

He took the bus home instead, an eight-hour journey.

Add LOT to the list of rogue airlines.


  • LOT is not says:

    Big deal, especially for Eastern Europe.

    I have flown with LOT many many times with a violin.
    Never had a problem, it’s a good airline, but with their single aisle small planes there is frequently little space, so he should have KNOWN that already, not moaning about his “strad”.
    If you never did any geography you would think Vilnius is the other side of the world from Warsaw.
    In reality its not far at all, a matter of a few hours in a car with a (brand new) motorway most of the way.
    Flying would be a “LOT” more expensive than taking a bus, so why didn’t he take a bus anyway?
    Sounds like another serial moaner to me.

  • Ich bin Ereignis says:

    It’s simply become an absolute gamble to fly with an instrument. These situations are often made worse by rigid thinking and/or power seeking airline employees. Violinists should research the “Trinity Case” — undoubtedly the best solution to avoid this. I am not affiliated with the seller in any way. But it’s the only case that will almost guarantee your ability to carry a violin in the cabin. If you carry the complete set, which looks like a regular carry-on, you still need to make sure it conforms to your airline’s carry-on requirements, which it probably will. Otherwise, you probably will be able to carry the violin and bow cases separately. For other instruments, I’m afraid it remains a gamble. The absence of legislation in this area is beyond shameful, but I guess this problem is just too challenging to understand, or simply perhaps not lucrative enough, for some of our elected officials.

    • Brahms rules says:

      The Trinity Travel Set is indeed a creative (but a very expensive one and to be honest, not the best quality either) solution to the current issue but it still has a catch, the bow case wich acts as the pulling handle doesn’t go completely “inside” the luggage and usually the given dimensions include the handle being fully hidden and I know that airlines usually don’t check on that but if they want to enforce it then… Busted again.

      Indeed I think the lack of clarity about the rules works for the profit of the airlines, a lot of them charge extra for hand luggage and all the time they want to shrink the size even more so more money goes into their pockets.

  • Clive says:

    For a start, it’s irrelevant to an airline whether it’s a Strad or a Skylark. The dimensions are what counts and unless special notice for arrangements was given, a standard violin case will exceed the dimensions (55x40x23cm) clearly stated on the company website.

  • Margaret Koscielny says:

    I thought, surely, that Polish people were more cultured than this. Was the LOT employee Polish? Or some other less-enlightened nationality?

  • Robert Holmén says:

    There is train service between those cities.

  • L Fields says:

    I was in Puerto Rico for a concert performance and had my French violin (not a Strad, but a very nice, professional French violin) and the pilot wanted me to put it in the baggage bay on the wing!! I said,” you’ll put ME in that baggage compartment before this violin goes in there. She stays with me!” It is the greatest fear of every single soloist that they will face this type of issue wherever we board a plane. I’m sad that he was not able to get the crew to understand the absolute worth of that incredible work of art. But I’m glad he didn’t give in!