Earlier today, they were denied the ability to board their flight heading to Arkansas because their violins were deemed a danger. It was not explained what kind of danger, or a danger to what or to whom, but for some reason, they were not allowed to board their plane. According to their post in youtube, they were subsequently left on the tarmac with no instruction or suggestions on how they could reach their destination. They were booked on US Airways.
Last year, cellist Lynn Harrell, who for the longest time bought tickets for both him and his cello via Delta was denied continued sky miles benefits on Delta. Stephen Colbert even did a story on him highlighting the ridiculous nature of Delta’s change of mind.
Lutenist Christopher Wilke recently had his 24-string baroque lute utterly destroyed by Delta baggage handlers.
Why so difficult to travel?
I’m not a professional musician myself, but from what I’ve learned about the music business, musicians obviously travel. They perform as guests or soloists with orchestras all over the country and the world. They live in one town and perform in another. They also perform on amazingly high quality instruments valued at up to millions of dollars for something that no one in their right mind would ever check along with their suitcase. No. These instruments are carried right into the cabin with them. This is how they make a living, but they can’t make a living if their livelihood is literally destroyed or they’re denied access to transportation needed to get to their jobs.
The irony of it all
I’m not sure why violins were not allowed on an airplane. Were they truly considered a danger? I don’t know. These musicians wouldn’t risk scratching them, much less hitting someone over the head with them.
What else is in a case? As a clarinetist, I can only guess, but they have a bow – and some of those are incredibly old as well as incredibly expensive. Why risk damaging such a thing? That in mind, what’s dangerous about a violin? OK – sure, you might be exposed to some crazy music. (crazy being a relative term ) Heck – listen to the Kronos Quartet – they play funky music, but it’s music. They’re also very good in concert. What they play though is not dangerous unless of course you’re just being facetious. (Or have to be dragged to a concert featuring Stravinsky. Ahem. Just kidding.)
Here’s the irony. Look at this picture.
What you see above is fully allowed by the TSA. Not sure what you’re looking at? I’ll tell you: It’s a set of stainless steel lace knitting needles with a flexible, multi-strand, nylon-coated, steel cable. Lace needles are sharper and pointier than standard knitting needles. Stainless steel cable – well – it’s very strong.
Knitting needles are allowed, but violins are not. Are knitting needles dangerous? Well – like any pointed writing utensil – they can be. Sure, you can use circulars for knitting a pair of socks, but what other damage can you do with a thin, steel cable that fits in your pocket?
So then tell me, why is the violin not allowed but a cable with sharp, pointy ends is? Do you not see the irony in that? I can replace these needles for $10-15 if damaged or confiscated.
Can a musician replace a Stradivarius?
27 May 2014: A hotly followed story, here’s an update on The Violinist.com as to the rules that allow musical instruments on board.