I just received this story from bass blog contributor Phillip Serna documenting an infuriating experience at the airport with this viola da gamba. It is quite fitting that I got this story just a day after putting out the first part of my Basses, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles series.
You won’t believe this.
I was traveling American Airlines from Chicago to Boston with my 7-string bass viol in my Aluminum Flight Case.
This is for the Boston Early Music Festival. I had no problems with air travel in Chicago, other than the fact that I was not allowed to gate check the instrument – too big to buy a seat for it (being larger than a cello). I always have been apprehensive when traveling with my string bass, and prefer driving because our airline industry is not good about protecting our means of livelihood, if you get my drift. I had ‘special handling’ and my viol was well looked after until I got to Boston. I watched as my instrument was taken down off of the plane.
At first I was relieved that the gentleman was carrying my instrument to the luggage tram. Suddenly to my horror & disgust, the baggage handler threw – literally THREW the instrument into the tram container and it fell out the other side. Then the tram moved and he threw it again.
‘Special handling’ indeed.
I hurried in disgust off of the plane to get the instrument at baggage claim. What I found was the scroll was smashed to bits on impact. The rest of the instrument was fine – hence the reason for purchasing a flight case. Peace of mind…but not always. I have reported this to baggage claim with American Airlines, but they were honestly not helpful other than to enter a claim in their computer – and I thought that Delta Airlines was the one that the Musician’s Union was fighting with. Anyway, I was told to retain my travel documents to submit to my insurance.
NEVER ever go through these headaches without musical instrument insurance. At least the ending will not be an unhappy one costing thousands of dollars. I probably can’t do much until I return to Chicago after my Boston Early Music festival performances Thursday afternoon – I am sure a beheaded instrument will look mighty bad for the ensemble & solo concerts I have to do.
I love smart baggage people.
- Basses, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
- Phillip Serna recital showcase
- Phillip Serna interview part 1 part 2
- Jason and Phillip after a concert
- read more crazy gig stories