Air Canada Makes Sweet Music with Policy Change

by Daniel Nikulin

While ‘United Breaks Guitars’, Air Canada will happily allow them on board and if you can afford it, will now even discount an adjacent seat by 50% so you can sit beside your beloved instrument. The discount applies to any fare, including the lowest available.

Air Canada’s enhancement to their policy on carrying musical instruments comes on the heels of several publicized instances where instruments have been damaged while in the cargo hold of airlines in Canada and the U.S.

In 2009, Halifax musician Dave Carroll wrote a song titled ‘United Breaks Guitars’ after United Airlines damaged his prized five-string and a video of his performance of the song went viral, with more than 15 million YouTube views.

united guitar throw video still

A similar incident happened to Toronto singer/songwriter, Don Ross, who earlier this year had his $10,000 custom-made Beneteau guitar “destroyed” while returning from a performance at a festival in Germany.

In Ross’ case, Air Canada offered to pay for the damage but as many musicians know, certain instruments are simply irreplaceable. On average, Air Canada handles nearly 35 million pieces of baggage each year, including thousands of instruments, citing such negligible occurrences as rare but is happy to do more to make sure their customers and all of their belongings are handled as well as possible.

guitar case at the airportFor the starving artist that cannot afford to buy two seats, even at a 50% discount for the second seat, they are invited to carry their instrument on board as cabin baggage, storing it in the overhead bins. Air Canada will also now allow musicians to board before general boarding, giving them access to the overhead space they need. And it isn’t just guitars; the policy extends to all stringed instruments including violins, violas, cellos, etc.

In the U.S., a law has been recently passed to give musical instruments precedence over other cabin baggage in overhead bins but if you want to buy a seat for your instrument, Air Canada is still the only carrier to offer a discount.

Musicians, rejoice! You can now fly with confidence while your guitar gently sleeps.

Want to see Air Canada’s new musical instrument policy in action? Call us at 1877 967 5302 or come visit our Airfare Experts at a Flight Centre store near you.

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