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Are trains allowed to charge for your cello?

Paul Katz, formerly of the Cleveland Quartet, has had troubles before in the air. Now he has been stopped from taking his cello on an Amtrak train without buying a second ticket.

Is that legal? Apparently so, althought the regulations are confusing and vary from one country to the next.

You may remember this case last year.


As for what happens in Europe…. read on here

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  1. Surely it depends if the luggage item in question is taking up a seat that would otherwise be used by a paying customer? If so then yes I think they totally should be expected to pay!

  2. The linked article refers to a $10.00 service fee rather than the full cost of a second ticket for a cello in a seat.
    If it is the former, then the charge would be de minimis and the player would be getting off easy. Furthermore,
    I can’t recall if the overhead racks are large enough to accommodate the instrument, but if they are, then maybe the player could bed Mr. Cello down in a top bunk and end up keeping the ten spot.

  3. I’ve traveled often with my cello on Amtrak without problems (at least so far) and the cello easily fits in the overhead racks. Sometimes it feels like the whole travel industry is against us cellists!!

  4. About 16 years ago I used to have to pay a child’s fare for my cello. It didn’t matter whether it took up a seat or not. This was in the UK. I don’t travel by train anymore so I don’t know if this has changed or not.

    • Of course you could do a Romney, or a variant thereof, and put the cello on the roof and the dog in the car, or visa versa.

  5. It’s not just trains. Like many I prefer to avoid coaches but when I was really poor I took my cello on a long distancecoach. I called the company and they said they would take it if I bought an extra ticket, which for a few quid I did. Then had a very long argument with the driver, who seemed more annoyed that the cello appeared on the passenger list as a person than anything else!

  6. Ryan Hartman says:

    Amtrak allows me to bring my bicycle for $25. It doesn’t take up a seat, as at least one car is reserved for baggage. Unfortunately, they have a monopoly on rail transportation and can do whatever they want.

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