Accordion on the Airplane

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Auser
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Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Auser » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:42 pm

A couple of days ago, a member asked about a Train, now I`d like to ask about taking the accordion on board.
I`m planning a flight (and back with an accordion) with Swiss Air.
Now they have an option for special baggage, like musical instruments which don`t fit into the requirements (size & weight of 8 kg, which it doesn`t). I asked them for further details about it, this was their reply :

" ...for transporting it in the cabin, we cannot fully guarantee that, as it will be dependent on how busy or small the flight is, and the last say will be with the airport staff directly on the day of travel.

Moreover, should you wish to have your musical item checked in, we would then advise that this item be packed properly and securely to avoid any damages as the airline will not be liable.

Therefore, we highly reccommend that you purchase an extra seat next to you, in this way you can have your item transported with you even if it does exceed the normal baggage allowance as is guaranteed and you will not be worried should it be damaged while in the hold. "

Now sure, I can purchase an extra seat (~200$) but what is the special baggage option is for ?

Did anyone had any experience with Swiss Air or this in-cabin option (where do they put it ?)

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by debra » Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:55 pm

The extra seat is definitely the best and safest option. Sure it is expensive, but it is certainly the only I would ever travel with my instrument (not that I plan to...).
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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by donn » Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:37 pm

Just to try and reduce the amount of certainty in the world ... flight staff have final say and maybe surprising latitude. That can be to our advantage, I've heard of them ushering an instrument to some special location that passengers don't normally have access to, but on the other hand, if they don't like the looks of your accordion laying there in a seat, they can say no. You can show them all the correspondence with the airline office promising that it's OK, the check stub for the money you spent on that seat, and it will mean nothing, if they think it's unsafe or otherwise object to it. I don't imagine that happens very often, but then musicians talk about buying that extra seat a lot more than they actually do it, so we don't have good statistics, a few anecdotal successes don't really prove much.

Safety is the main consideration, and some advance thinking might be worthwhile, about how the accordion will be secured. Airline seat belts are designed for objects that fold in the middle, so it's enough to just loop a belt over the waist, but of course that doesn't work for a case. I suppose to get a seat belt to securely hold a case, while it's bouncing around etc., you might fit the case with a stout, professional looking harness and loop the belt through it.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Francisco SC » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:34 pm

As we do every year, my wife and me flew to Curitiba, Brazil, for vacations: By road from Vigo (Spain) to Porto in Portugal, then 10 hrs flight to São Paulo (Brazil), and from there 1 hr flight to Curitiba. This year we took two of our accordions: a 120 bass Hohner Concerto 4 of mine, and a reduced size 120 bass Calvi Signora of hers. Since the price of an extra seat for them (1500 Euros) would be more than twice what we paid for both, we took the risk of taking the smaller Calvi with us in the cabin, and the bigger Hohner checked in.

In the first aircraft from Porto to São Paulo, the Calvi fitted easily in the overhead luggage compartment (Even the Hohner would have fitted). Aircraft was an Airbus A330-200. But when we boarded the second flight, an Embraer 190, we discovered to our dismay that it would not fit at all, no matter how we placed it. I had to squeeze it under the seat in front of me to avoid it being taken to the cargo hold, where it would have probably been destroyed (I was carrying it in a soft gig bag).

As I said, we checked in my Hohner. For doing that, I wrapped it in bubble plastic, placed it in its soft bag, ant then wrapped this one again in bubble plastic and placed it inside a hard suitcase. It arrived with no damage at all. I'm not recommending this method, though. I believe we were very lucky.

Back to the cabin luggage, lately I've travelled to Hamburg and Valencia, and found that both KLM and Lufthansa are also using the same Embraer aircraft with tiny overhead compartments. Not sure about Swiss Air....


Here are our two accordions in their new Brazilian environment. :)

ImageDSC01287 by Francisco Sánchez-Castañer, en Flickr

By the way, my small FR-1x would also not fit at all in the Embraer; not even under the seat, since it's thicker than the Calvi (even thicker than the Hohner).

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Auser » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:25 am

Donn, the problem is the Airline company didn`t promise anything, more so they are constantly trying to dismay me from the `special` cargo option, so why post it in their terms ? Accordion isn`t worse than a Cello or a guitar.
I asked about this option but they constantly try to divert me to purchase an extra seat, those money grubbers .
Francisco SC wrote:
Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:34 pm
I had to squeeze it under the seat in front of me
This is the difference between Brazil and Switzerland, there you can get along with them, round-out the corners, persuade them. The Swiss are much tougher, they won`t care and probably repeat the same well formulated line (" Sir, I`m sorry but it is impossible to accept your accordion in the cabin " ) with a polite smile. But it would be much harder to convince them, than the Brazilians / Portuguese / Spanish.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by debra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 11:00 am

The extra seat option is actually quite common here. Friends of mine once went with 4 people to an accordion competition and at that time they could still so do the booking in one go: 4 people plus "mr accompanying instrument", "mrs accompanying instrument", "ms accompanying instrument" and "dr accompanying instrument". (This won't work any more as the "dr" option has been abandoned so the rule that every seat must be assigned to a different name means you can now only take 3 instruments for the group with you.)
It is definitely the safest option to transport an accordion.
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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by EMan » Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:26 pm

I'm glad your accordions arrived safely for you. This is a real touchy issue with the airlines and their employees.

I suffered a lot of angst earlier this year when I was invited to play at the scholarship concert at Cotati in California USA. Living in St Augustine, Florida, I was 2,900 miles from Cotati. I own and play a beautiful Borsini 5/5(LMMMH) and I never even considered checking it as baggage, but I did consider, seriously, buying it a seat. After speaking with a couple of ticket agents, it still concerned me that once I arrived at the airport, something could change, the scheduled aircraft, the attitude of a new clerk, a different interpretation of the airline's rules, etc. I got really lucky when a gentleman that I met there last year, who owns a music store in Northern California, offered me a new Baffetti to play at the concert. Lindy Mantova from Mantova's Two Street Music in Eureka saved the day. I just don't think I would have been comfortable trying the full fare seat. Maybe it would have been un eventful, but I don't trust the airlines.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Nuuksu » Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:52 pm

Probably trip from Estonia to Tenerife waits me in near future and I must take my accordion with me. My 5 reed Accordiola Jazzmaster probably don't fit under seat nor overhead compartment. Shipping it with DHL is quite expensive, but I plan to try Pelicase solution


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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by debra » Sun Aug 06, 2017 8:35 pm

Nuuksu wrote:
Sun Aug 06, 2017 7:52 pm
Probably trip from Estonia to Tenerife waits me in near future and I must take my accordion with me. My 5 reed Accordiola Jazzmaster probably don't fit under seat nor overhead compartment. Shipping it with DHL is quite expensive, but I plan to try Pelicase solution
...
Looks like an excellent case. I checked prices on such a case, and it exceeds that of getting an extra seat on most flights. So this case is a good solution for a musician who needs to travel often with his/her accordion, but way too expensive for someone who goes on a once in a lifetime trip.
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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Nuuksu » Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:15 pm

It is one way trip, but I prefer protection and just in case if they don't let me to take it with me. If all goes well I order new soft back-bag when I have lived some time in tenerife.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by maugein96 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:00 pm

Musical instruments on aeroplanes are a logistical nightmare, and here in Europe where distances are not so great, Paul DeBra's suggestion that the only safe way to do it is buy a seat for it is the only way I would go, especially with an accordion.

The only other option is to pay a handling charge at the check in desk (typically about 60 Euros), hand the item to a baggage handler while you are waiting to board, then try and locate your accordion amongst all the other "oversized" stuff at baggage reclaim at your destination.

If the accordion survives all the jostling it will receive from its fellow "oversized" articles, which will typically consist of such other "delicate" items such as golf clubs, then you can consider that to be a miracle, and register it as such.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by Auser » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:03 pm

It might be cheaper than a seat or DHL, and I`ll prefer that, but don`t forget you`ll have to pay for extra luggage too.
Unless you don`t have an additional suitcase.

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by JerryPH » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:21 am

maugein96 wrote:
Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:00 pm
Musical instruments on aeroplanes are a logistical nightmare, and here in Europe where distances are not so great, Paul DeBra's suggestion that the only safe way to do it is buy a seat for it is the only way I would go, especially with an accordion.
Anyone ever wonder how all the high end accordions miraculously make it from the country of manufacture to the other side of the world? I recently emailed with someone that orders from Italy and gets them in the USA, he has never had an issue receiving accordions via FedEx. Properly packaging is the main thing, requires effort, knowledge and a bit of money, so that is definitely a reasonable way to get an accordion from one location to another.

However, if I was dreaming big and ordering a Gola, you know damn well that I would be PERSONALLY picking it up at the factory and placing it on the seat beside me for the flight home, no power on earth would be able to change that. Splitting the accordion in to 2 pieces and used as carry-on is another possibility, however, some accordions can be too big for the overhead, like ones with Cassotto. Back to the "beside me on the seat" option, which is quite expensive, of course... but worth it in some cases.
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by wout » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:26 am

Yes proper packaging is a must! You can check YouTube to see how to pack an accordion properly I believe liberty bellows has such a video. I flew with an extra seat which I recommend cause you can keep an eye on your instrument! However with a smaller one you can put it in handluggage which I did as well. One Time it didn't fit and the crew put it safely in the back of the plane :)

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Re: Accordion on the Airplane

Post by JerryPH » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:32 am

That was nice, and in this day of totally uncaring people, you simply got a bit lucky there. Some unknowing and uncaring idiot could have just as easily told you to either check it in or take another flight, that is the danger... that in the act of taking the safest way, someone insists that you leave it in the hands of idiots that treat it like garbage and toss it in the baggage hold, the absolute worst way and almost a promise of damage upon arriving home.
My musical memoires blog/website: http://www.AccordionMemories.com

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