Monday Mailbag

May 5, 2008

in Airlines, Europe, Information, Luggage, Packing, Travel, Web Tips

First up this Monday is musician Marie from Canada, who is trying to fly on RyanAir with two violins and a guitar. She writes,

Hi, I’ve been trying to talk to someone from Ryan Air for the past 3 weeks and it’s impossible! My question is about carrying musical instruments in the cabin. They say you must purchase a seat, but we have 3 instruments (2 violins & 1 guitar), the violins are small so they’d fit into one seat no problem … are we supposed to purchase 3 seats for the instruments? I’m sure we’d actually fit all 3 if they were in a seat next to ours (there’s 4 of us travelling). Anyway, if anybody knows anything about this I would very much appreciate it.

Have you flown RyanAir with multiple small instruments before? Feel free to chime in here.

RyanAir’s policy on instruments currently reads as follows:

Large musical equipment . . . may be carried in the hold of the aircraft in addition to your personal checked baggage allowance upon payment of an additional discounted fee per item, per one way flight if booked at the time of reservation. Smaller musical items such as a guitar, cello, violin or viola which exceed our cabin baggage dimensions may be carried in the cabin if a seat for it has been reserved and the appropriate fare paid. There is no checked baggage allowance associated with the purchase of an extra seat.

Due to space restrictions, we recommend that all musical equipment is pre-booked and pre-paid at the time of booking . . . as not to do so may result in the item being refused carriage at the airport.

My advice to Marie is to measure the violin cases and see if they are indeed small enough to count as simple hand luggage (current dimensions 55cm x 40cm x 20cm). If they are, you only need to buy a seat for the guitar. If not, you will surely be in the right only by buying seats for all three. If the tickets you are looking at are over 30 euros, you may consider — depending on the sturdiness of your cases and your own risk aversion — checking the instruments, as there is a flat fee for carrying them in the hold.

Next up is reader Jen in Paris, whose recent flight to New York on Air India was delayed by eight hours. She had contacted me about her EU passenger rights, and I pointed her to my previous post on this subject, “Over Two-Hour Delay in Europe? Get 250 Euros.” Jen wrote again today after doing a little research of her own — it appears the Airfare Watchdog, from whose site I had taken the interpretation, was incorrect in his reading of the law. I’ve corrected the original post, but for the lazy, here’s what you need to know:

  • If your flight is CANCELED less than 7 days before scheduled departure and the alternate flight leaves more than one hour later, arriving more than two hours later — then you are entitled to 250 euros for intra-european flights, 400 euros for longer flights;
  • compensation similar to the above is due passengers who are involuntarily BUMPED from flights; 1/2 of the aforementioned amounts are awarded when passengers arrive within two hours of their scheduled arrival time;
  • If your flight is DELAYED (over two hours intra-european, over three hours for longer flights), you are entitled to meal coupons, phone calls and paid overnight stays as necessary. After five hours, you have the right to request a full refund of the unused portion of the ticket with a free return to your departure airport on a multi-leg journey. You may be eligible under national laws for compensation for costs incurred by your delay or cancellation (i.e. for hotels etc. on the other end of your trip); however, the EU law in question DOES NOT GRANT DELAYED TRAVELERS RIGHTS TO COMPENSATION.

Updated links to resources on this issue have been added at the original post.

That’s all for this edition. If *you* have specific questions, updates or comments, feel free to contact me directly.

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