Qantas has issued a new instrument policy that should reassure violinists and violists booking to fly with the airline. The Australian carrier has raised its maximum allowable cabin baggage dimensions for violins and violas from 115cm to 130cm, meaning that most standard cases should be permitted in the cabin. The Qantas website has also been amended to include specific guidelines for musicians regarding carry-on baggage.
The change in policy follows a number of recent incidents involving violinists who were told by Qantas staff that they would have to put their instrument in the hold. Jon Rose, an Australian violinist who specialises in experimental and improvised music, sent an open letter of complaint to the airline last month. He had tried to check in for a domestic flight but was forced to put his violin in the hold after being told that the case exceeded the 115cm limit by just 3cm.
Qantas’s new position on violins and violas comes as Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier Ryanair comes under more pressure in the UK over its policy of making violinists and violists pay for an extra seat. A Labour MP has tabled a Commons motion on the issue, and the Incorporated Society of Musicians has launched a petition calling on Ryanair and other airlines to adopt a fair and standard practice for carrying instruments. It wants every airline to agree that an instrument can be carried as hand baggage if it is guitar-sized or smaller.