There isn’t anything quite as terrifying as bringing an instrument aboard an airplane. Especially one that is actually worth something. Airlines aren’t exactly known for handling luggage with care, never mind something that is worth upwards of $20 million. Yes, you read that correctly; $20 million.
That is exactly the situation that violinist Rachel Barton Pine found herself in recently, while boarding an American Airlines flight along with her Joseph Guarneri “del Gesu” violin. According to USA Today, that violin was valued and insured for $20 million, making the idea of having to stow such an expensive instrument seem downright insane. Yet that is exactly what the pilot insisted upon. Pine opted not to board the flight instead of taking unnecessary risks with the instrument from 1742.
Most airlines allow for instruments to be brought onto planes as carry-ons as long as they fit in the overhead compartments and there is room for them. Interestingly enough, this wasn’t her first time having complications with traveling and expensive instruments, her having spent an evening in an airplane terminal after a disagreement with US Airways about the same instrument not being allowed on board. Back in 1995 she actually had an incident on a train and an expensive violin that claimed her right leg. This woman takes her expensive instruments seriously.
I’ve had reservations in the past about bringing instruments worth a few thousand dollars on flights after having brand new guitar cases returned to me barely holding onto life, I can’t imagine handing over a $20 million instrument to employees who toss luggage around without a care in the world.