There were ‘an unusually high number of musicians booked on the flight’, says spokesperson
British Airways has responded to media coverage and public criticism of its treatment of violinist Cecilia Bernardini last week.
The Strad reported that the Dutch-Italian musician was forced to remove her 18th-century instrument from its case and carry it on her lap on a recent British Airways flight when staff refused to allow the case in the cabin. Instead her case, containing three valuable bows, was checked into the hold.
A BA spokesperson has told MailOnline: ‘We are sorry that our customer was unable to make use of our extra hand baggage allowance for instruments on this occasion, as there were an unusually high number of musicians booked on to the flight.’
The spokesperson went on to suggest that passengers should notify staff if they intend to bring their instrument into the cabin at least 24 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure.
Bernardini, who leads the Dunedin Consort and is a member of the Serafino String Trio, was travelling from Amsterdam to London for a recital at the Wigmore Hall on 4 June.
In response to the incident, London-based violinist Paula Muldoon has launched a petition on change.org, requesting that BA change its instrument policy ‘on behalf of the musical community of Europe’.
The petition reads: ‘Currently, easyJet has a very clear policy that allows musical instruments including violins and violas, which are somewhat longer (although generally slimmer) than the usual carry-on luggage size, to be carried on. I call on BA to institute a similar policy to clearly allow musical instruments to be carried on as hand luggage – otherwise musicians will be forced to go to other carriers which allow us to carry our instruments.’
BA’s existing musical instrument policy states: ‘Musical instruments can be taken on board as part of (but not in addition to) your free hand baggage allowance providing they fit within the maximum bag dimensions. Where possible, we'll also try and accommodate instruments that are slightly larger. Musical instruments which are too large to be carried in the cabin, will be checked in. This will be part of your checked baggage allowance so excess baggage charges may apply. Please transport all musical items in a hard backed case when you travel with us. It may also be possible to purchase an extra seat for your cello, depending on availability.’