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Historic Viola de Gamba vs Airlines

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  • davewerden
    Administrator
    • Nov 2005
    • 11138

    Historic Viola de Gamba vs Airlines

    Another not-pretty story.

    https://www.thestrad.com/news/viola-...s/7421.article
    Dave Werden (ASCAP)
    Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
    Adams Artist (Adams E3)
    Alliance Mouthpiece DC3, Wick 4AL, Wick 4ABL
    YouTube: dwerden
    Facebook: davewerden
    Twitter: davewerden
    Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium
  • ghmerrill
    Senior Member
    • Dec 2011
    • 2385

    #2
    It is incomprehensible to me that a professional musician, with a rare and expensive (and virtually irreplaceable) instrument like this, would have even considered taking the instrument in a "normal hard case" -- much less turning it over to others for safe-keeping, regardless of what she was told. I guess that some people are simply not able to assess risk in anything close to an objective manner. That's the most charitable view that I can take of this incident. It was her instrument. She made the decision. I simply can't bring myself to place the preponderance of the responsibility or blame on the airline people in this case.
    Gary Merrill
    Wessex EEb Bass tuba (DW 3XL or 2XL)
    Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
    Amati Oval Euph (DE 104, Euph J, J6 euph)
    1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba (with std US receiver), Kelly 25
    Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K10/112/14 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
    1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

    Comment

    • davewerden
      Administrator
      • Nov 2005
      • 11138

      #3
      Gary,

      Certainly a good point. In reading between the lines in the story I wondered if perhaps this was a last-minute need/decision that limited her options. But still...

      On the other hand, the whole baggage handling process has shortcomings. Perhaps robots will take over some day and save us!

      Seriously, though, one of my hopes when I board a plane is that I'll be seated somewhere that allows me a view of the baggage loading. When I have been able to observe things, some of the crews looked about as responsible as you could expect for a tedious, repetitive, and hard job. And I've seen some crews that were clearly unconcerned with what might be in suitcases. I had a very sturdy 3-suiter hardside that that airline managed to crack several years ago on a non-stop flight (so there was as little baggage handling as possible). The case was not old and brittle and it was very sturdy. My daughter's softside had its wheels ripped off during a non-stop flight home a couple years ago. I've seen a few other examples at airports where people's belongings were taped or tied together when a case was broken. So in general, I think the airlines should figure out how to safely transport an instrument in a hard case or a typical flyer's suitcase with seriously damaging the case or its contents.

      Stories like this woman's are useful reminders to all of us about what can happen. If I need to fly and take my horn, I plan to just use the Bonna case and hope for the best. It's a great horn and would take months to replace, but it IS replaceable. For me, an Anvil case or similar is just not in the cards for several reasons. (But my eyes have been drawn to those King travel cases they make for marching instruments. The shell looks quite sturdy and there is great-looking padding inside.)
      Dave Werden (ASCAP)
      Euphonium Soloist, U.S. Coast Guard Band, retired
      Adams Artist (Adams E3)
      Alliance Mouthpiece DC3, Wick 4AL, Wick 4ABL
      YouTube: dwerden
      Facebook: davewerden
      Twitter: davewerden
      Instagram: davewerdeneuphonium

      Comment

      • ghmerrill
        Senior Member
        • Dec 2011
        • 2385

        #4
        I can't, in general, defend the baggage handlers of the airlines and the quality of service that the airlines provide in this regard. These are not highly paid or highly skilled people, they're provided with whatever equipment the airlines and airports choose to give them, and they're under time pressure and at the mercy of weather. But the thing is: unless we haven't traveled at all and are totally ignorant of all of the stories in the news and online, we know exactly what to expect. My son, working for Amazon, flies in and out of SeaTac fairly frequently now and when we were out there last week commented on his sympathy for the baggage crews and what he felt expectations of travelers should be in the current environment. There are big issues here of cost and service, and what people are willing to pay for.

        Yet this woman is an experienced professional musician who is said to have traveled extensively with this instrument. She seems to have known to some degree what the risk was since (in other articles) it's reported that she offered to pay for a separate seat for the instrument but was told at that point that the flight was fully booked and no additional seat was available. So it sounds like she knew full well what was required in order to protect the instrument, for some reason (?) had NOT booked a seat for it -- perhaps hoping to save money by using an "available" (empty) seat on the flight without having to pay for it -- was told this wasn't possible, and then decided to go on the flight anyway with this fragile 17th century instrument, knowing that it would be put into the hands of airline luggage handlers and tossed onto the luggage carousel for pick-up. But she's also reported as saying that she has traveled previously with the instrument "stored in the hold". There are certain odd inconsistencies here.

        The subsequent emotional description of her luggage (and that's exactly what it was at that point) being "attacked" and "savagely vandalized", and how Alitalia "hates musicians" seems at least a bit disingenuous. She says that she was promised that the instrument would be taken by hand into the plane and out of it" and implies that this was not done. However it may have in fact been done and the instrument was damaged in transit by some load shift. Who knows? But that's all part of the OBVIOUS risk.

        I'm sure the instrument was insured (well, I'm not sure, given other circumstances here, but let's assume so). But I wouldn't be at all surprised if the insurance company refused to pay the claim on the grounds of contributory negligence by the owner. Basically, she took a huge chance, and either she did this naively or did it knowingly. Not totally unreasonable in the case of something like a euphonium or trombone ($5,000-$10,000). Less reasonable in the case of an expensive tuba ($15,000-$20,000). Pretty clearly not reasonable in the case of something like an expensive bassoon ($35,000+) or 'cello. And just nutty in the case of a $200,000 rare stringed instrument that likely could NOT be restored or replaced if damaged and had been packed under the assumption that it would be traveling in the cabin. Just nutty.
        Last edited by ghmerrill; 01-07-2018, 02:28 AM.
        Gary Merrill
        Wessex EEb Bass tuba (DW 3XL or 2XL)
        Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
        Amati Oval Euph (DE 104, Euph J, J6 euph)
        1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba (with std US receiver), Kelly 25
        Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K10/112/14 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
        1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

        Comment

        • DaveBj
          Senior Member
          • Oct 2011
          • 1064

          #5
          I haven't flown since 1999, and not with musical instruments since with my cheap folk guitar on my USAF travels in the 1970s. If I make it past the auditions of AGT, I'm looking at one or more round trips between Birmingham and LA, with my euph. I'm not looking forward to that.

          (Of course, first my audition video has to be accepted )
          David Bjornstad

          1923 Conn New Wonder 86I, Bach 6 1/2 AL
          2018 Wessex EP100 Dolce, Denis Wick 4ABL
          2013 Jinbao JBEP-1111L, Denis Wick 4AM
          2015 Jinbao JBBR-1240, Denis Wick clone mouthpiece of unknown designation
          Cullman (AL) Community Band (Euph Section Leader)
          Brass Band of Huntsville (2nd Bari)

          Comment

          • JasonDonnelly
            Member
            • Nov 2015
            • 89

            #6
            Usually I can spot the baggage handlers from the terminal. They don't care. Even if they are less than 6 inches from the conveyor belt, they will unceremoniously toss the luggage onto the belt. Suitcase or guitar case, it doesn't matter.
            University of Miami - BM Euphonium Performance '21
            Indiana University - MM Bass Trombone and Euphonium Performance '24



            Besson Prestige 2052S
            Courtois 551BHRA
            Conn 88HCLSGX
            Various Greg Black mouthpieces

            Comment

            • bbocaner
              Senior Member
              • May 2009
              • 1449

              #7
              I feel terrible for the musician, but the story doesn't have info about how it ended up in the hold. If she bought a seat for it or tried to gate check it and they made her check it instead, I would be incensed. If she intentionally checked an instrument made in 1685 just because someone assured her it would be fine that way, my level of sympathy is reduced.
              --
              Barry

              Comment

              • bbocaner
                Senior Member
                • May 2009
                • 1449

                #8
                Not all the baggage handlers are bad. I've observed them gently placing every bag on the belt many times, and I think more often than not they try to be careful. But you never know when someone's going to put something on a belt where the other guy stepped away for a minute and it just falls off the end of the belt onto hard pavement, or if it's going to go onto the baggage claim and then a 70lb bag is going to fall on top of it. And you can't count on them ALL to be gentle. I've also experienced many times circumstances where stuff will sit outside for hours before it comes in to be claimed, sometimes in the rain. Not good for a wooden instrument!
                --
                Barry

                Comment

                • ghmerrill
                  Senior Member
                  • Dec 2011
                  • 2385

                  #9
                  Originally posted by bbocaner View Post
                  I feel terrible for the musician, but the story doesn't have info about how it ended up in the hold. If she bought a seat for it or tried to gate check it and they made her check it instead, I would be incensed. If she intentionally checked an instrument made in 1685 just because someone assured her it would be fine that way, my level of sympathy is reduced.
                  There are a number of reports of this incident available on the web. Though several of them are just basically ver batim copies, some others have different details and more complete accounts. Given those, it's difficult (for me) to imagine exactly what was originally in her mind concerning the possibility/likelihood that she would actually be able to travel with the instrument in the cabin, and why the demand of the airline to check it was at all surprising to her.
                  Gary Merrill
                  Wessex EEb Bass tuba (DW 3XL or 2XL)
                  Mack Brass Compensating Euph (DE N106, Euph J, J9 euph)
                  Amati Oval Euph (DE 104, Euph J, J6 euph)
                  1924 Buescher 3-valve Eb tuba (with std US receiver), Kelly 25
                  Schiller American Heritage 7B clone bass trombone (DE LB K/K10/112/14 Lexan, Brass Ark MV50R)
                  1947 Olds "Standard" trombone (Olds #3)

                  Comment

                  • tonewheeler
                    Senior Member
                    • Dec 2010
                    • 460

                    #10
                    I agree with Gary on this one. One has to question the wisdom of checking a "unique and irreplaceable" instrument like this in normal baggage on an airline. Hopefully it is insured and they can repair it.
                    Euphs:
                    Miraphone 5050 Ambassador
                    Wessex Travel (Tornister) Euphonium 'Maly' ER154
                    Yamaha 201 Baritone
                    Mp: Wick SM4 Ultra X
                    Groups:
                    The San Diego Concert Band

                    Comment

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