Flying with a Violin

Discussion in 'Non-Rail Transportation' started by Seaboard92, Mar 27, 2019.

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  1. Mar 27, 2019 #1

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Hey guys. Does anyone have any experience with flying with a violin and how to ensure it arrives in one piece at the destination?

    I am the travel coordinator for my communities Community Band which is in the translational phase to becoming a community symphony and we have been invited to play in Wien, AT this coming winter. As the only string player at the moment my instrument is much more vulnerable to travel than the rest of the group. So does anyone know which airlines have the best policies regarding violins for the overhead compartment so that I can route the band or at least myself via that airline.

    I would prefer to avoid having my instrument in the cargo hold because even though I want a newer (ie older) instrument I would rather do that on my own terms and not because the instrument was damaged in transit.

    So which airline should I use?
    How can I safe guard my instrument?
     
  2. Mar 27, 2019 #2

    SarahZ

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    I used to work for Shar Music (and I miss it so much). :) We got this question all the time. I always recommend people stow their carry-on bag in the overhead and their violin under the seat ahead of them. That way, you have complete control over your instrument. Nobody can slam a bag down on top of it or grab it while you're napping.

    1) You can get a soft, fitted case for it. These cost around $60, and while they obviously don't offer a lot of protection, they offer the most versatility when it comes to fitting under your seat. They tend to have backpack straps along with the normal shoulder strap. You can send your empty hard case through checked baggage and use that for the actual touring while the soft case is folded inside your suitcase.

    2) You can purchase a "dart-shaped" case, which has a better chance of fitting the airlines' carry-on requirements. Dart-shaped cases don't offer as much storage for your shoulder rest, sheet music, etc, but they are much easier to travel with. Your bow would also fit better than it would in the soft case and have less chance of damage (both to the bow and the violin). You can usually find a decent dart-shaped case for around $100. Again, you'd want to send your "real" case through checked baggage.

    Here's an example: Thermoplastic Violin Case

    3) Purchase a separate seat for the violin. Most airlines allow this, especially since it's the only option for cellists who don't want to take a chance their cello will be destroyed by baggage handlers. I realize this is expensive, but it's an option.

    4) Ship it. (I wouldn't want to do this, personally.)

    5) If you ARE going to put it in the cargo hold, BAM cases offer the most protection, especially if you get a carbon-fiber case. They are expensive, but I've watched people back over them with cars and jump on them (without the instrument inside, obviously). ;)
     
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  3. Mar 27, 2019 #3

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Thank you Sarah. I’m just worried my case is too big for the carry on. I definitely will be looking at the dart case. My thing in this group I’m the Violin and Viola section at the moment so I travel with a case large enough to carry both of them. Any idea which airlines are better on instruments in the cabin?
     
  4. Mar 28, 2019 #4

    SarahZ

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    My apologies, Seaboard. It looks like the rules have changed and loosened a bit since I worked with stringed instruments. (Good news!)

    I found this article to be quite thorough and helpful:

    http://www.sdmusicworld.com/airtravel.html

    Also, rather than trying to wrangle a double case, is there someone who you trust to carry the violin or viola as their carry-on? (I imagine those with larger instruments will be checking theirs.)
     
  5. Mar 28, 2019 #5

    Dakota 400

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    For what my comment is worth (trying to be helpful): my two nephews' high school band flew to Ireland for a series of concerts. One of them plays the trombone and the other a tuba (not the big one with a large bell). Both instruments were in sturdy, hard-sided cases and were checked with the airline(I don't recall which one). The instruments came through the trip in the same condition they were originally in. But, neither instruments were the best of their type at the time. (Before they went to college, both boys purchased far superior instruments for use during their college careers and after.)
     
  6. Mar 28, 2019 #6

    Ryan

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    I’m trying desperately to parse what kind of instrument you’re talking about here.
     
  7. Mar 28, 2019 #7

    Dakota 400

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    The tuba that I described with the large bell is one seen during half time shows at Ohio State football games. The one that often "dots the i" in Ohio. My Nephew's tuba was more like a baritone horn, but was still considered to be a tuba. (At least, that's what I understood.)
     
  8. Mar 29, 2019 #8

    SarahZ

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    Sousaphone. It’s in the tuba family. :)
     
  9. Mar 29, 2019 #9

    Ryan

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    Indeed.

    This is a tuba - they're played sitting down:
    [​IMG]

    Marching bands play either a Sousaphone:

    [​IMG]


    Or a Contra:

    [​IMG]


    (many horns are built with a reversible lead pipe so that they can be used in both marching and concert settings)

    ((all of them are big and have large bells))

    (((yes, I'm a brass nerd)))
     
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  10. Mar 29, 2019 #10

    JennaP

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    Brass instruments are fine in the hold.

    Wood instruments are not. The pressure changes can warp the soundboard.

    My recommendation would be to splurge for priority boarding if possible, and get a smaller travel case - this almost certainly won't be the last time you need one. I'm told violins will often fit under the seat anyway, in which case you're fine.
     
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  11. Mar 29, 2019 #11

    Dakota 400

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    Thank you SarahZ and Ryan for your pictures and providing the correct names. You can tell that I was not a Music Major! My brother was (he inherited our Mother's music genes) and he passed them on to his two sons.
     
  12. Mar 29, 2019 #12

    jis

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    I am curious now. Isn't the cargo hold pressurized the same as the passenger compartment? I did not think that the passenger compartment floor is designed to withstand pressure difference across it. The entire cylinder of the fuselage between the front and rear bulkheads is equally pressurized.

    Now things like humidity and such may be different in various parts of the plane.
     
  13. Mar 29, 2019 #13

    Seaboard92

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    Thanks all for the help. I was reading somewhere that I need to ease the tension on the strings by tuning down a whole step. As well as turning the pegs linear with the scroll. Would I have to do this as well for flying in the cabin?
     
  14. Mar 30, 2019 #14

    SarahZ

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    Yes. The pressure fluctuations will still affect the instrument a bit. It never hurts to tune down a step, even when you aren't flying. I have friends who tune down a bit every time they transport their instrument.
     
  15. Apr 1, 2019 #15

    trainman74

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    I have a friend who flew to L.A. with an autoharp last year (so he could perform at an open mike in Hollywood). There was a lot of tuning.
     
  16. Apr 2, 2019 #16

    SarahZ

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    Good thing I never fly with my piano.
     

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