We've been at festivals every weekend for a month, and in talking with musicians who come from outside the country, we've learned of a disturbing new trend in airline security. When you fly to the US from certain countries, you can't take your musical instrument on board anymore; you must check it.
We haven't been able to bring the guitar in the cabin for several years now. We do have a sturdy case for it, and have been lucky so far. (Though we did hear from one guitarist whose seemingly impregnable case was no match for a forklift, which drove its blades straight through the back of the instrument.) But with something like a violin, it just mustn't go in the hold, not ever. Even if it isn't crushed, the temperature could be very harmful to older instruments. Here's the roundup of news and horror stories on the subject (read the feedback on these articles for some interesting stories):
Airline destroys $13,800 viola
Cabin baggage ban hits musicians
Discussion on violinist.com
Airline terror baggage ban hits a bum note
Airport rules costing musicians
Although the articles above talk mostly about flights between the UK and USA, a group of Canadian musicians wound up checking their empty cases and carrying the fiddles on board in their hands. I think the reason was a strict application of instrument case dimensions by the Canadian airline. Musicians from Ireland and the UK wound up borrowing instruments once they got here.
Since the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US, it's grown much harder to bring musicians here from overseas to perform and teach workshops. It's more expensive and more difficult for them to get visas now, and this latest security move is discouraging them from coming here at all. Let's hope this madness ends soon. Peace to all.