an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Just in: Virgin Atlantic bans violins

We have received this message from a travelling player:

Virgin Atlantic Airways has carry-on luggage size restrictions of 9″x14″x 22″. An average violin case is 31″ in length and exceeds their dimensions for carry-on luggage.  A Virgin Atlantic representative I spoke to today said that no exceptions will be made for musical instruments, which means that violins can’t travel as they cannot be placed in checked luggage.

virgin atlantic

No room on board, apparently.


One of our readers adds: I was just on the phone with them, as I fly all over the world with VA. I was told there has been no change of policy and if the violin case fits in the overhead compartment I would be allowed to carry it on board. I pointed out that is not what the website says and they now promised to look into it. Feel free to call them on 0844 412 2414 and voice your concern!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. PK Miller says:

    So I guess musicians should not travel unless they can drive. Just what is the matter with airlines? We seem to pay more and more and get less and less. Pretty soon, we will be paying an average of $500/ticket, expected to print our own tickets, check our own baggage, retrieve same on the other end from the cargo hold and serve our own refreshments, putting a $5 bill in a slot for 4 oz of coffee or soda. Like everything else, we pay more and more and more and get less and less and less.

  2. Guess what? Virgin has just banned revenue generated by the many musicians who cross the Atlantic for the myriad festivals, workshops, and master classes that take place in the summer, as well as any orchestra or chamber group that’s on tour.
    Good work.

  3. what about harmonica?

  4. So, what are we heading towards? FedExing violins when we travel?

    • Alexandra says:

      I already have to fedex my viola when I travel because it’s impossible to travel with both…

  5. It seems to me that this where the various musicians unions should step in – at first to educate the airlines about their musical cargo, and then to flex whatever muscles it can. There is no way that individual musicians can place any pressure on airlines but at least there might be some adverse publicity if unions stepped in and if a few celebrities added their presence to the discussion as well. In general, though,I think no one really cares anymore. Our society doesn’t place much value on what is seen as lumps of wood used to play music of interest only to a minority of elites.

    • i remember seeing a post on the international musician’s union site regarding this. they claim to havee reached an agreement with ATA allowing “small to medium sized” instruments on board as carry-on. the airlines haven’t yet come to a universal acknowledgement of this agreement, and we, as travelling musicians, are lefft to fend for ourselves yet again. my solution has been to buy a twin of my axe that i leave in europe and just travel with my trombone mouthpieces…how a violinist wouyld deal with this, i have no idea!

  6. umm, maybe someone should actually go to VA and read their policy…

    Towards the bottom, they have a section for “musical Instruments”.

    You are welcome.

    • Marguerite Foxon says:

      The section on musical instruments you quoted says: “If it exceeds the hand baggage allowance measurements, you’ll need to check it in ” So it makes no difference – 22″ is the length limit.

      Seems to me its becoming time for someone/some group who is influential to start raising this with the airlines, go to the papers, get on TV or whatever, It is quite ridiculous with the amount of global travel that musicians do these days. Or should we all stick to descant recorder or piccolo?

  7. R. James Tobin says:

    Virgin Airlines should simply be told “Who needs you!”

  8. I wonder if this has anything to do with Delta’s acquisition of a 49% stake in VA, which was announced this week.

    • I can hardly see how, or why. Why on earth would you think the two would be connected?

  9. Angela Cockburn says:

    As a traveller who goes to the trouble of abiding by rules like this, only to find the overhead locker stuffed with large backpacks, I wouldn’t worry too much. Most staff do not want the confrontations that enforcing the requirements would produce.

  10. Everyone – please note that although Violins are theoretically longer than the dimension limits – airport check in staff are fine for you to take them on board as part of your hand baggage. Just give the airline the heads up.
    This is not a new process and there is no breaking news.

    • I didn’t see your comment before I splattered mine all over the seat. Thank you. I guess life can go on as before and Dominic won’t have to check his tommy gun at the gate after all.

  11. Does Richard Branson, Britain’s fourth richest fella, the music lover who sobbed when he sold his beloved Virgin Records (reportedly he formed V2 Records to assuage the pain), and who got off with immunity when he snitched on his price fixing partner British Airways (the airline we all love to hate), does he know how his airline is screwing string players? Send Branson those letters. Maybe a petition on could catch his ear.

  12. ALICE CHUTE says:

    You might be forced to buy a seat for your instrument. Read to what lengths American Artist, Frank Gallo went to transport his resin sculpture of Raquel Welch to New York’s Time Magazine.
    “Gallo created the piece specifically for the November 28, 1969, cover of Time Magazine. Gallo had been noted for his voluptuous sculptures of the female form before, but this was his first attempt at sculpting from life. Gallo himself transported the work from his studio in Champaign, Illinois, to New York to be photographed for the cover. To protect his work, Gallo decided that he would ride alongside the boxed sculpture. But because the seatbelt was not large enough to secure the packaged sculpture, Gallo was forced to unwrap Ms. Welch, much to the pleasure of his fellow passengers, I am sure. The sculpture was critically acclaimed as well, winning the “Cover of the Year” award from the American Institute of Graphic Arts.”
    ( from an article written by Greg Kenyon, an English and history major from the University of Maryland who is interning at the National Portrait Gallery).

  13. That’s illegal. On Feb 14, 2012, Pres Obama signed the FAA reauthorization act which requires all airlines to allow violins in the overhead bins. The Virgin Airlines rep just didn’t know what he/she was talking about.

    Here’s the text from the law:

    ‘‘§ 41724. Musical instruments
    ‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—
    carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to
    carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft
    cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to
    any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carryon
    baggage, if—
    ‘‘(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable
    baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger
    seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage
    of carry-on baggage and
    ‘‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger
    boards the aircraft.

    • Peter O. says:

      These laws only apply for US domestic flights. Virgin Atlantic flies internationally.

  14. Even a life sized RW might have been a tight fit, unless she were inflatable, and, like the man with the beard who had trouble deciding whether he should sleep with it over the covers or under, there could have some confusion with the seat belt.

  15. I just contacted Virgin and they said that I couldn’t take my violin on board – there were no exceptions. I’ve written a comment on Richard Branson’s blog (which handily features two musicians and their valuable inspiration this week) and have sent him a message on twitter. It strikes me that if enough people make comments publicly, he’s the sort of guy to do something about it.

    Try writing a comment on the blog: or ask him a question on twitter – #askrichard or tweet him @richardbranson

    I don’t think it would take many of us, and he wouldn’t be losing out as it looks like the EU is going to make it law soon anyway – he’d just look like the good guy for being ahead of the curve.

an ArtsJournal blog