Flybe has been criticised for changing its baggage policy for small musical instruments, with musicians claiming it will have a serious impact on their ability to tour.
Musicians were previously able to take a small musical instrument within the measurements of 100cm x 30cm x 30cm as cabin luggage in addition to a small bag.
However musician Sarah Watts said the policy had been “changed without warning” and that instruments are now no longer allowed in the cabin unless they were smaller than the standard cabin bag size of 55cm x 35cm x 20cm.
Watts told The Stage: “The impact is serious for touring musicians. Many of us travel with thousands of pounds worth of very fragile instruments. It’s not as simple as to pack them securely and put them in the hold as the temperatures in the hold can crack wood and you are also at the mercy of careless baggage handlers who don’t care what is in the case.”
She added: “A damaged instrument for me could result in a concert having to be cancelled. It’s not always possible to get a replacement instrument at short notice that you can play on to a high standard.”
Watts said that when challenged about the new policy, Flybe had told her the decision had been made “as a matter of safety”. It confirmed the change on Twitter and said any item exceeding the cabin baggage policy would have to go into the hold.
A statement from the Musicians’ Union said: “The MU was disappointed to learn that Flybe’s musical instrument policy has recently been updated, to the detriment of musicians travelling with their instruments.
“Flybe’s new policy seems to mean that violins and other such instruments will only be allowed in if they are the size and shape of a small suitcase.
“This decision demonstrates a lack of understanding of our members and their instruments. If a musical instrument arrives damaged, a musician can be left unable to work.”
Flybe has been contacted for comment.