British Airways slammed for instrument ban

Dismay as airline changes policy on hand luggage dimensions

Musicians have expressed their dismay at the decision of British Airways (BA) to reduce the size of hand luggage permissible on its flights, thus consigning a number of instruments to the hold.

Previously, BA allowed instruments to be taken as hand luggage, so long as they did not exceed 126cm in length. Now, however, any items to be taken into the cabin cannot exceed 56cm x 45cm x 25cm – well short of the length of, say, a violin in its case (c80cm). Musicians are now left with the choice of either booking their instruments into the hold – an unacceptable option for most, given their value – or buying an extra seat for them.

Protests against the decision have been led by Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM), who has called on BA to have a rethink. ‘Given that EasyJet changed its policy to support the creative economy and our professional musicians, it is baffling that British Airways has taken such a retrograde and damaging course of action,’ she says. ‘It is unreasonable to expect precious and valuable instruments to be placed in the hold of an airplane.’