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Musicians accuse British Airways of ‘mixed messages’ over instrument policy

Musicians working in orchestras were included in the study Many British musicians travel to Europe 40 or more times a year
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Musicians are calling on British Airways to adopt a clearer policy that guarantees smaller instruments can be carried on as hand luggage.

The plea follows concerns raised by musicians after a BA customer service representative appeared to indicate the airline’s policy had changed, claiming the airline was “unable to allow musical instruments to be carried in cabin as hand baggage without charge”.

The move prompted anger from musicians, including trumpeter Alison Balsom.

BA has since claimed this message was posted in error, and claimed that musicians are still able to carry instruments on as hand baggage, free of charge.

“We’re sorry about the misunderstanding. We appreciate how precious instruments are to musicians and offer special arrangements for transporting them. We will always do everything we can to accommodate smaller musical instruments in the cabin,” a spokeswoman said.

However, the Incorporated Society of Musicians said there needed to be a clearer policy adopted by BA, accusing the airline of “mixed messages”.

“Musicians are facing yet more uncertainty following British Airways’ mixed messages and lack of guarantees. In the context of Brexit, ease of movement is increasingly important for working musicians, some of whom have to travel to Europe upwards of 40 times a year. It beggars belief that British Airways is putting more barriers in the way just as UK musicians are finding it harder to secure work on the continent,” it said.

“Given that other airlines have managed to develop more musician-friendly baggage policies, we have written to British Airways asking for an urgent meeting and are calling on them to adopt a musician-friendly policy,” it added.

ISM head of external affairs, Harry Vann, told The Stage BA needed to produce a policy that allows smaller instruments in the cabin rather than its current “we’ll do our best approach”. He said this left musicians facing uncertainty when travelling.

The ISM has called for an urgent meeting with BA.

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