Ottawa man may sue Air Canada after viola smashed
Paul Casey with destroyed viola
Fri, 01 Sep 2006 18:01:31 EDT
A 20-year-old Ottawa man says he
might sue Air Canada for damages after his $14,000
viola arrived in pieces. Paul Casey, a music student
at University of Ottawa, was returning from
performing with the Youth Orchestra of the Americas
in Europe when Air Canada insisted he check his
viola as baggage.
was told the airline has a strict policy against
taking carry-on items weighing more than 10
kilograms. Although the instrument case bore fragile
stickers, it arrived with a snapped neck, a broken
back and about 12 cracks on its front.
"We just figured it would last.
We figured we would have it forever," he said of the
custom-made instrument. Air Canada sent him a cheque
for $1,600 compensation. That's not nearly enough to
replace it, he said. Casey returned the cheque
because he's thinking about getting lawyers
Guy Harrison, the Ottawa violin
maker who made Casey's instrument, says it can't be
repaired. It has sentimental value for Harrison,
because it's the first instrument he made in Canada.
"It's the first instrument that I know of that's
been destroyed," he said in an interview with CBC
Casey wonders why he was
allowed to take the instrument on board in the past,
but cannot now.
But the Air Transport Association of Canada warns
musicians they shouldn't expect any special
treatment and says the new rules about cabin baggage
will be more consistently enforced.
Other Ottawa area musicians say
they fear they will have the same experience when
they travel. Joan Harrison, an NAC cellist, said she
buys a separate ticket for her cello, so it can sit
on a seat beside her, but now the airline is
preventing that. "Air Canada three times this year
has not let me take my cello on board even though
I've had a ticket," she said, "because you don't
know what kind of airplane you're getting and they
happen to be small flights."
Instruments such her cello are very valuable, as
well as a means of making a living, she said.
"I could sell my instruments and could buy another
house. You spend years saving up. You have mortgages
on your instruments."
David Goldblatt, a performer
with the NAC and representative of the American
Federation of Musicians, said performers are
worried. Many won't check their instruments and that
they can't travel.
"We have a tour coming up in
November and, honestly, I don't know what we're
going to do.
I believe it's a charter flight, but the same rules
apply to charter flights as far as I know," he said.
Ottawa Citizen: Airline destroys $13,800 viola
travel returning to normal as carriers clear backlogs
By Thomas Crampton
International Herald Tribune
Published: August 11, 2006
PARIS World flight schedules
approached normal for most passengers Friday, but for Luigi
Minonzio it will be quite some time until people like him fly
Minonzio, a tour organizer for Cose di Musica,
one of Italy's largest music management companies, said the
tighter measures for carry-on luggage would badly affect the
ability for his company and others to bring in musicians to
Italy who cannot bear to be separated from their instruments.
"British bands, for example, almost always
bring everything with them when they travel," Minonzio said. "I
guess they'll start moving things by truck."
Michele Neri, director of a Milan photo
agency, expressed a similar concern, while the director of the
Moscow's celebrated Bolshoi theater told Agence France-Presse
that his musicians would leave London for France by train rather
than check in their instruments as baggage.
Renwick McLean contributed reporting from
Madrid, Elisabetta Povoledo from Milan and Thomas Fuller from
Tighter Security Is
Jeopardizing Orchestra Tours
Air travel for classical
musicians has never been easy.
Those husky cellos need an
extra ticket. Hey, security! Watch that
priceless Stradivarius. Double-reed players?
They have long given up on carrying aboard
those valuable knives and shaping tools used
to mold the cane that transforms their
breath into lyrical sounds.
And now, with new
concerns about carry-on baggage in the wake
of Britain’s reported terrorist plot, it has
imposed last week forced the New York-based
Orchestra of St. Luke’s to cancel a
long-awaited tour of Britain over the
weekend and sent other ensembles with
imminent trips, including the
Philadelphia Orchestra, the Pittsburgh
Symphony and the Minnesota Orchestra,
scrambling to cope with the new rules.
Marianne C. Lockwood, the president and
executive director of the St. Luke’s
orchestra, said yesterday. “I don’t think
I’ve been through 72 more anguished hours in
my life.” The orchestra was to have left
last Thursday for concerts at the Edinburgh
International Festival and the BBC Proms at
the Royal Albert Hall in London, one of the
major summer music festivals.
All travelers in
Britain had to adapt to the ban on carry-on
items, which was relaxed yesterday to allow
one small carry-on. But not all travelers
ply their trade with highly personal
artifacts made of centuries-old wood,
horsehair and precious metals that many
musicians are loath to put in the hold.
Its rules are of course
in flux. The United States
Transportation Security Administration
says on its Web site that musical
instruments are generally allowed in the
cabin in addition to a carry-on bag and a
personal item, but it leaves size
requirements and permission for the carry-on
to the airlines. In addition, it promises
that security personnel will handle
That is of little
comfort to musicians, particularly string
players, who suffer constant anxiety over
the threat of damage and fears that their
instruments will arbitrarily not be allowed
in the cabin, even though violins fit into
most overhead bins.
The violin virtuoso and
conductor Pinchas Zukerman said security
officials had even asked him to remove the
strings of his 1742 Guarneri del Gèsu. “I’ve
had unbelievable discussions at certain
airports,” he said by telephone while
waiting at the Atlanta airport for a flight
with his wife, the cellist Amanda Forsyth.
“They want to stick their hands in my
instruments, and they say, ‘It’s my job.’ ”
Cellists have it the
worst, Ms. Forsyth said. “We buy the seat
with a cello, and they treat us like
The new regulations
have, for now, increased the complications.
The Bolshoi opera
and ballet, which
have been performing
Royal Opera House
in London, will send
instruments back to
Moscow by ferry and
truck at the end of
the week if the
restrictions are not
relaxed, said Faith
spokeswoman for the
at the house, Victor
Vedernikov, had been
quoted as saying
that the musicians’
them to keep their
“Clearly this is a
Wilson said. “I’m
sure there are
but I don’t think
anybody’s ever had
to cope with the
we’re up against.”
is due to leave on
Sunday for a
European tour that
also includes stops
in Edinburgh and at
the Proms. Like many
major orchestras, it
and padded crates.
biggest ones, which
hold harps and
double basses, are
six and a half feet
high and four feet
wide. About 20
players in the
like to take their
precious bows on
board, but they will
stow them this time
around, said a
Pappas. The trunks
straight to concert
halls, so the
instruments will not
players who want to
practice at their
Orchestra plays the
Proms in early
trunks also have
space for all the
instruments, but it
is working on backup
plans for about a
dozen musicians who
are going on to
other jobs or on
vacation and not
returning with the
orchestra, said a
later, give the
orchestras time to
prepare. And these
groups that own the
so the Orchestra of
St. Luke’s, a highly
and saw the trip as
a boost for its
spent two years
planning the trip
and many months
the programs, which
were to have been
broadcast in the
trip had special
significance for the
who is Scottish, and
for its president,
Ms. Lockwood, who
was born in England.
three days of phone
calls, fueled by
food, to find
planned to carry
instruments by hand.
Charter planes were
too expensive: about
would have doubled
the cost of the
tour. The orchestra
Boston to borrow
trunks. All were in
use. St. Luke’s
the musicians to
Paris, having them
take a train to
London and having
trucked in, but
there would not have
been time to make a
Saturday to offer
the loan of
the end, none of the
cancelled the flight
that day at 5 p.m.
TIPS FOR TRAVELING
SAFELY WITH MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
September 6, 2006
Heightened security measures at U.S. airports
have impacted the ability of musicians to carry their instruments
in-cabin. Below is information to help you and your instrument
CHOOSING AN AIRLINE AND MAKING YOUR RESERVATION:
1. Know TSA policy.
U.S. and international security
restrictions may change at any time. Find the latest news on the U.S.
Transportation Security Administration
2. Know airline policy. Each airline may adopt
unique restrictions regarding carry-on items. When selecting an air
carrier, call to confirm whether the dimensions of your instrument
meet the airline’s requirements for carry-on items, and note the
name of the agent you have called. If an airline makes its policy
available online, carry a copy.
3. When making your reservation, request a seat
assignment at the back of the plane. During the boarding process,
passengers seated in the rear of the aircraft are boarded
immediately after first class and special needs passengers. As one
of the first on-board, you will have more time to stow your
instrument, and more space options.
4. Notify reservation agents of oversized items.
Many airlines have limits on the number of oversized items allowed
in-cabin. Even if you paid an additional fee or booked a seat for
your instrument, ask the reservation agent to record that you are
traveling with an oversized musical instrument.
Tips made possible in collaboration with the
American Federation of Musicians and the 2001 Coalition in Support
of Musical Instruments as Carry-On Baggage.
PACKING AND CARRYING YOUR INSTRUMENT:
1. Remove all extraneous items from the case.
All tools and other items should be checked or carried separately to simplify the screening process. What are completely
familiar items to you - cleaning fluids and tools, valve oil, end pins, reed knives, mutes, tuners, metronomes - may seem mysterious to screening personnel.
2. Limit the number of carry-on items. For domestic flights, in addition to your
instrument, you may have one carry-on and one, small personal item.
3. Arrive early. You may hear that check-in and screening takes only minutes –
THIS MAY NOT BE TRUE FOR MUSICIANS. Arriving early will allow for the time you may need to work with security and flight crews to make sure your instrument gets safely on board. Bear in mind that problems may take some time to correct. Therefore, it is imperative that you arrive AT THE GATE at least one hour before boarding time.
DEALING CALMLY WITH LAST MINUTE PROBLEMS:
It is crucial that as a traveling musician you recognize several important facts.
1. The most important responsibility of airport and transportation officials is security.
2. The most important responsibility of gate attendants and flight attendants is safety.
3. The most important responsibility of the captain is safety AND security. Your instrument represents an unusual item that could very well be unexpected. Gate and flight crews that have a very short period of time to seat passengers in an aircraft try their best to deal with the unexpected concisely and quickly. You (and your instrument) are only one of many passengers that will likely have special needs. Therefore, don’t take it personally when a gate agent or flight crew member seem indifferent to your concerns. Their time is limited.
However, you have the backing of the airline to travel with your instrument onboard if the
airline permits it. Therefore, it is recommended that you remain calm and polite. In many cases, the problem may be resolved. Consider this:
1. If you are stopped by a flight attendant, calmly and quickly explain the precautions you have taken to prepare your instrument to safely travel in-cabin.
2. Be accommodating by suggesting placing the instrument in the rear of the aircraft, or securing the instrument with cords or ties (bring your own).
3. If necessary, immediately ask to deplane so that you can resolve this matter with airline supervisors. Remember, you have fifteen minutes at most to resolve this issue before the plane backs away from the gate.
4. DO NOT block the way of boarding passengers. Finally, prepare yourself for the possibility
that you may not be able to travel with your
instrument in-cabin – even if you have followed all possible procedures. What will you do? Are you willing to send your instrument by air courier? Is it packed well enough to withstand transportation in the cargo hold? Should you, or can you, travel by train or car?
SUPPORTIVE POLICIES CURRENTLY IN PLACE:
The national music community, led by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), has
petitioned Congress, the TSA, and major airlines to address this issue. Section 135 of S. 1447,
the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001 expresses the support of the United States House of Representatives for a remedy to inconsistent treatment of musicians and their instruments.
This important provision of the act reads as follows:
S. 1447 Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001, Relating to Public Law 107-71, Page 41, Section 135
SENSE OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
It is a sense of the House of Representatives
that (1) the Under Secretary of Transportation for Security should develop security procedures to allow passengers transporting a musical instrument on a flight of an air carrier to transport the instrument in the passenger cabin of the aircraft, notwithstanding any size or other restriction on carry-on baggage but subject to such other reasonable terms and conditions as may be established by the Under Secretary or the air carrier, including imposing additional charges by the air carrier. Though this language does not give musicians the specific right to carry any musical instrument onboard, it encouraged the TSA to adopt supportive policies.
In 2002, the AFM secured a commitment from the TSA to facilitate musicians traveling with their instruments. According to a letter from the TSA to the AFM, these steps are in place: On December 20, 2002, TSA instructed aircraft operators that effective immediately, they are to allow musical instruments as carry-on baggage in addition to the limit of one bag and one personal item per person as carry-on baggage on an aircraft.
Additionally, these revised procedures were communicated to our TSA screeners at the passenger screening checkpoints throughout the country. Should your membership experience problems at the security screening checkpoints, please advise them to request to speak to a screening supervisor for resolution.
In August of 2006, the TSA adopted new procedures that permit passengers to be present for and assist with the screening of large
musical instruments as checked baggage. According to the TSA: The screening will be conducted by the TSA in a designated area near the ticket counter and the instrument will then be returned by TSA to the aircraft operator for processing as checked baggage.
Passengers may request this service at the ticket counter as they are checking in. Please be advised that individual airlines have the last word on what is allowed in-cabin and on the plane! It is still best to check in advance with your air carrier to determine the policy for allowable carry-on items, and to plan for plenty of time to communicate with your flight crew in advance of boarding the plane.