Does music make you fly? Of course, but also literally, that is, it makes you change places continuously. Traveling from town to town or from country to country with the instrument of your job is becoming more and more popular. By train which is fast, safe and frequent , but mostly by plane.
It’s not so easy to carry your cello with you on a plane: each company has its times and rules for booking and boarding and its costs. In order to avoid misadventures you need to be well informed and to behave accordingly.
First of all a note on baggage transport by plane
-The checked baggage is what is put in the plane hold and is left at the check-in desk at the airport (and obviously no one wants his/her cello to end up in the plane hold.
-The hand baggage is what we carry with us on board the plane.
Let’s proceed with order. These are the main aspects to consider when facing a trip with a musical instrument in the safest way:
-A suitable case to protect the instrument
-A good insurance policy
-Good knowledge of the rules of the airline companies.
In general all airlines companies allow cellos in the plane cabin, obviously in a reserved place, usually next to their owners. There shouldn’t be any risks for the instrument: boarding, check -in, transfers from the airport to the plane might provoke damages to the instrument due to accidental hits. For this reason al companies require hard crashproof cases.
Insurance of instruments
Insuring a musical instrument is a complicated operation and for this reason it will soon be dealt with in a special article. Let me anticipate however that when you buy an insurance policy, you must check the coverage of transport risks: loss, theft and damages.
Rules of airline companies
You can carry musical instruments only after the approval of the customer service and you need to apply “ within 48 hours from the flight departure”. The instrument is put on an extra seat “to be paid”. As regards cases, it is said that they must be “containers with rounded corners and preferably rigid”
If you think you’ll be arriving at the airport at the last minute, avoid Alitalia flights. The rules clearly state that “passengers who wish to carry their musical instruments on board Alitalia flights are obliged to show up at least 60 minutes before check-in closing time. Bookings must be made at least 48 hours in advance and only through a call centre “To buy a ticket for your cello, contact only the call center”.
If your cello is particularly small and light (length less than 115 cm and weight less than 8 kg) it can travel free as hand baggage. If it’s a normal cello (dimensions no more than 52x40x135 and weight less than 32 kg) you can carry it in the cabin by paying little extra money (only if you’re not traveling with light fee). If your instrument is particularly large or heavy, it will be put in the plane hold. (Better leave it at home)
The most curious part of the rules is the following: “These dimensions must include also the foot on the lower part . (if it is can’t be disassembled) Can that be the endpin? A cello with its endpin emerging from its case! To comfort the poor cello obliged to hide its endpin it’ll be given a place next to the window and its owner. So it’ll be able to enjoy the landscape. But how much does a cello pay? It pays the same fee as an adult traveling in Economy Class. But if its owner travels with a light fee, then the cello can’t travel “this service is not available for people traveling with Light fee”.
This company allows every kind of object in the cabin, so also musical instruments, provided they have the following measures: 56x36x23 cm (22x14x9 inches) including handles and wheels. This mean that the instrument must enter the container provided by the airport for dimensions control. Musical instruments are considered hand baggage and must be put in the overhead locker or under the seat before you. It seems cellos are destined to the plane hold.
“The largest musical instruments, such as guitars and cellos, can be stored in the hold or you can buy an extra ticket to carry them with you into the cabin” A rigid case is recommended.
EasyJet allows cellos in the cabin “but you must pay an extra seat for your instrument”. To protect it from damages “it can be put on the seat with the seatbelt fastened around it and to the seat”. When booking with EasyJet online you must add an extra seat using the name Mr Seat Cello”. Check -in online is required for the cello as well. If you want to add a cello to a previous booking you have to call customer service. The company recommends an insurance policy.
Extra seat to be booked in advance.
For the transport of big baggage or special baggage, such as musical instruments, there are special fees and conditions.For further information you can call Lufthansa Service Center. On Lufthansa flights you can carry musical instruments such as double bass, violone, bass viola , heavy percussion instruments (such as timpani) weighing more than 32 kg if you communicate it and receive confirmation.
Rules and fees for musical instruments
Itinerary Maximum weight maximum size
between third countries
Musical instruments can be carried into the cabin but you must buy a ticket for the seat of the instrument. Weight must not exceed 75 kg and size 120 cm
Musical instruments can be carried into the cabin but you must buy a ticket for the seat of the instrument.
All musical instruments follow the same rules: “Any instrument must be put in its case. If you want it on board you must buy an extra seat”.
Instruments exceeding 56x45x25 cm and the weight of 10 kg can’t be boarded as hand baggage. “The instruments that exceed such dimensions but that cannot be loaded in the hold will have to be put on the seat next to the owner, after buying an extra ticket”. To book it online you must “adopt” your instrument. The name will be EXST and the surname the owner’s surname.
Check-in will require special attention as regards procedures and times of boarding. Don’t miss your plane but keep an eye on your precious and beloved cello too.