flying with a cello

Avoiding Cello Flightmares

 By Natasha Farny I just completed a four-city recital and masterclass tour of Brazil, which included one car trip, three domestic flights, and one round-trip international flight.  Usually when I travel for concerts, I face the frustration and complexity we all enjoy of bringing the cello onboard, extra ticket gripped firmly in hand.  The slightly unusual aspect of this recent tour was that I used borrowed cellos for each concert.  I left my own instrument at home for several reasons.  Although my room and board was generously covered in each city, most of my flights were not, and I didn’t want to pay close to $1k for the extra plane tickets.  I didn’t want either the physical hassle of carrying it around, nor the emotional/mental hassle from airport personnel in [...]

Delta Kicks Lynn Harrell out of Frequent Flyer Program for Buying Cello its Own Seat

Reprinted from TheConsumerist.com Not wanting to become the Dave Carroll of the classical music world, solo cellist Lynn Harrell purchases a second seat for his cello when they travel together. This should keep everyone happy. The airline sells an extra seat to a very quiet and compliant passenger, and Harrell racks up extra frequent flyer miles that he can put toward future travel for his cello. Delta isn’t happy, though: they’ve kicked him out of their frequent-flyer program and banned him from it forever. His crime? Accruing the frequent-flyer miles that the airline granted to his cello. It’s not exactly a scam to earn free vacations, since he will keep buying full-fare tickets for his instrument for the rest of his career. Okay, it is against the SkyMiles terms and [...]

Bumping the Cello: An Exchange Between WestJet’s Robert Barron and Paul Katz

Shortly after my "Airline Nightmare" story appeared in the Boston Globe, WestJet representative Robert Barron wrote a letter of explanation to the Globe.  It is reprinted here, with my personal reactions injected. – PK Robert Barron - West Jet Customer Service Agent: First of all, I'd like to say to Mr. Katz that I'm sorry he had such an unpleasant experience flying with us. All of us at WestJet are very proud of our company and its caring culture so we take it personally when we hear people are unhappy with us. The second-last thing I would want to do is cause a guest any upset, but the very last thing I want to do is to jeopardize anyone's safety. While many airlines do permit musical instruments to fly in the cabin, [...]

Flying with Your Cello? Print the FAA Passenger’s Bill of Rights to Carry With You

WHEN TRAVELING WITH AN INSTRUMENT, BE SURE TO PRINT THE FOLLOWING  PASSENGER’S BILL OF RIGHTS  AND CARRY IT WITH YOU! DOWNLOAD PDF The United States’ FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act – SEC. 403 § 41724, adopted by the US Congress on 6 February 2012: H.R.658 – FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2011 SEC. 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS. (a) In General- Subchapter I of chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘Sec. 41724. Musical instruments […]

WQXR Podcast of Paul Katz Interview: the Pitfalls of Taking Musical Instruments on Planes

Listen:  Reprinted from WQXR.org U.S. airlines are more punctual and less likely to lose your bag than at any time in more than two decades, according to a recent Associated Press analysis of Bureau of Transportation data. Fewer than three suitcases per 1,000 passengers were reported lost, damaged or delayed from January through June, a record low. But a recent spate of stories concerning musical instruments on airplanes suggests that the skies aren't always friendly for musicians. Paul Katz, a former member of the Cleveland Quartet, recently experienced a particularly dramatic incident involving his 1669 Andrea Guarneri cello and a flight from Calgary to Los Angeles operated by WestJet, which partners with American and Delta, among other carriers. "I was even pre-boarded. I got the royal treatment,” Katz tells host Naomi [...]