Bringing my viola on long haul flights

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Tahlia Hatzi said: Oct 12, 2018
 1 posts

Hey guys,
I am a student from Australia and I have been playing viola for about 10 + years and as I progress it becomes harder and harder to be able to be without my viola and without practice for long periods of time. My family often travels overseas and this year when we travelled we went with Qatar airlines and we were going for 6 weeks. Before the trip I was planning on taking my viola with me and insisting that my viola comes with me in the cabin, however after hearing countless horror stories and not having anyone who would be able to take my viola back home with them if they wouldn’t let it on the flight (as I could not just leave it at the airport), I decided not to take it at all. While we were at the airport lining up for our flight there was a very young violinist who was taking her violin overseas to play for her family who she was visiting and she had the smallest violin I had ever seen, and the airline made the biggest fuss about it, so at the time I was quite glad that I chose not to try and bring my violin on with me. After spending 6 weeks overseas without practice and coming back to 2 viola exams, I was very unprepared.

We are again traveling next year for about 6 weeks with the same airline, and after making the mistake of not taking my viola once, I have decided that I can’t do it again as my exams are once again straight after we get back. My viola is 16 and 1/2 inches and I really can’t afford to take any risks, and if for some reason on the 3 long flights I need to take to get there, I can’t get it on there is nothing I can do about it. I have thought of something which is definitely very risky but I just don’t really know what to do.

The Airline which I am travelling with allow 30kgs of checked baggage per passenger as well as one item of cabin baggage and a person item which you can take onboard which cannot exceed 80cm. I am thinking that if I pack light I can check in my suitcase and also check in my viola case with my bows in it, and then wrap my viola in bubble wrap and a scarf and take it on board as my personal item. I would be holding my viola on my lap during the flights. I know this is quite risky but it is better than possible having my viola damaged and chucked around under the plane. Does anyone have any thoughts about this plan or any personal experience with Qatar airlines in terms of travelling with violas?

Danielle Kravitz said: Oct 21, 2018
Danielle KravitzInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Violin
64 posts

Not specifically with Qatar airlines but I’ve travelled with my instruments quite a bit. I have never had any issues personally.

I do NOT check my instrument. If I did, I would be sure to purchase a separate, far more heavy duty case to get the job done. I bring my instrument in a light BAM case and then just store it in the overhead compartment. No need to hold it on the lap.

It’s usually pretty obvious to the people working on the airlines that you are carrying an instrument. Unless they are just in a bad mood that day, most of them won’t hassle you about bringing it onboard (so long as you’re not trying to bring 5 other bags on with you). Just be sure that if they ask you are very polite and friendly when you explain that the contents of the case are quite fragile.

Phillipa Burgess said: Oct 21, 2018
 Violin, Recorder, Piano
Springfield, OH
5 posts

I have paid for early boarding so that I can get my instrument in the overheads before the cabin is full. FDA regulations state you can bring the instrument along, so long as there is room for it in the overheads. Once it is in, they shouldn’t be able to remove it. However, you need to check the regulations for non-US companies.


Alina Kirshon-Goldman said: Oct 22, 2018
Alina Kirshon-Goldman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Voice, Viola
Herndon, VA
8 posts

You have to call customer service and check their regulations. I have never had a problem with mine, but I traveled US and EU. Another option would be to rent a viola in Qatar. I am not sure how it would work there, but I rented a cello for my son in the past and I k ow of other parents who rented cello traveling overseas.

Alina Kirshon-Goldman

Friederike said: Oct 23, 2018
Friederike Lehrbass
Suzuki Association Member
Plano, TX
87 posts

Here is a special case for violin and traveling. Not sure they also have it for viola..

Praise the Lord with the stringed instrument

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