TRAVELLING WITH A CELLO 101
The extra seat and the airlines...
*An EXTRA SEAT is like an extension of your own seat, and it has to be booked by phone, asking for "Special Service Request"
Low cost companies often tell you to buy 2 normal seats, then go to option 2. I choose option 2 as well when the fares they offer on the phone are too expensive.
I WILL DIVIDE THIS PROCESS IN 3 STEPS:
PRINTING YOUR TICKETS
INSTALLING YOUR CELLO
STEP 1 : BOOKING
BOOKING AN EXTRA-SEAT
OPTION 2 BOOKING A FULL PRICE SEAT
BOOKING AN EXTRA-SEAT -> "CBBG"
1. CALL THE AIRLINE
Before calling, have a look online and know which flight you want to book and the airfare,
you will gain time & money...
Once, I spent 1h30 on the phone but usually it takes about 30 min.
Inform the Representative that you would like to book a ticket with a
"Special Service Request", for a cello on board as Cabine Baggage"
Clic here to see what they will do
Clic here for Amadeus procedure SSR
from Amadeus Quick Reference Guide
They might ask you for the dimensions of the cello case and the weight.
Give those numbers : 120cmx40cmx30cm and it should be fine.
-> Do not give a number over 130cm, as the height shall not exceed the seat height, except for seats next to or ahead of the cabin wall
After booking your tickets by phone, you will receive an email with your reservation for both tickets, with something like this :
Ticket 1: last name / first name MR/MRS
Ticket 2: lastname / CBBG
ABOUT PRINTING YOUR TICKET
The online check-in is usually not available when you have an extra seat. On the day of travel you will have to do your "check in" at the airport with your booking references in order to get your boarding pass. They will print your tickets.
Avoid arriving at the last minute...
(Make sure you have a window seat for the CBBG ticket, this CBBG rule is applied by all crews, in case of evacuation, the cello should not be on the way of anyone.. logic ;) )
Swiss airlines explains it very well here:
Note that some airlines might charge you a small fee for booking through the phone (Air France), but you won't pay the taxes of the ticket and you will not have to make any changes at the airport (not like with option2).
And for example, Air France/KLM has a very nice policy : you pay 75% of your ticket before taxes for the extra seat. (see bottom of the page)
You have your tickets?
BOOK FULL PRICE TICKETS
(at your own risk...)
A lot of cellists choose this option (I often do too): you book 2 full price tickets online.
Note that the correct way is to book the seat of the cello by phone as a "SSR" special service request.
I choose this option with low cost airlines because they usually ask you to buy 2 seats in their policy.
I do it as well when the fare offered on the phone is a lot higher than what found on the web. (Many time I got absurd rates going up to 7000€ for the cello when a regular ticket wass 600€...)
Your cello cannot be officially a frequent flyer, see Lynn Harrel's experience with Delta , do it at your own risk... it is better to buy an extra seat by phone and ask to have the miles credited to your frequent flyer account).
Even if you love your cello, don't call your cello's seat "Mr. or Mrs. Cello + your last name " it is not the code for a cabine baggage.
You want to have the CBBG code in your cello's ticket, it is something any agent will understand as an extra seat.
CBBG is the code used for Cabine Baggage/extra seat. (do not use EXST, as the EXST code is used for extra seat for comfort but not for a baggage, but it's still better than your cello's first name ;) )
- Last name : your last name
- First name: CBBG cello
- So, in my case it's CBBG Cello Dumas
If you do the check-in online, put your passport / ID number for the seat of the cello, and if you can choose your seats, choose a window seat for the cello (with you next to it of course... and of course NOT the emergency exit).
For example: A plane with a layout of 3 seats/aisle /3 seats : Choose A or F and if it is 2 seats /aisle/ 2 seats : it choose A or D. but with a layout 1 seat / aisle / 2 seats book the cello into the C seat and you on the B. And for bigger planes, look at the map of the plane when you choose your seats. For example you can find United Airlines seat maps online
AT THE AIRPORT
checkin in - printing your tickets
On the day of travel you will have to do your "check in" at the airport with your booking references in order to get your boarding pass. They will print your tickets. Everything should be fine, but just in case, always make sure that the cello has a window seat...
You have 2 full price ticket
Here is what I usually say:
Hello, I am flying to XXX and I have an extra seat for the cello
Have your tickets ready, and whilst they are looking at your tickets they might tell you that it is registered as a person. Say an innocent "oh yes" and smile :) let them deal with it.
If your cello doesn't have a window seat, add something like "I remember that for security reasons the cello must have a window seat, could you also check this? thank you :) "
If they don't know how to proceed, they usually make a phone call, then they will transform the ticket and give you new boarding pass, and you're all set! Always smile, don't put any pressure on the person in front of you... :)
Some people don't know how to deal with the extra seat/window situation and might leave your ticket as it is. Never argue, you will solve that issue with the crew with a nice smile :)
OPTION 2 - GO TO BOARDING
You go to the gate with your two tickets, if you have a window seat for the cello, it should be all fine but I usually let the desk know before they start the boarding process.
AT THE GATE - BOARDING TIME
Proceed to boarding when they call people with small children / needing extra assistance; if they don't let you pre-board don't argue, but it is usually not a problem..
If at that point you notice that your cello doesn't have a window seat, be super nice because if you would have booked a real extra-seat this would not have happened...
As soon as you get on the plane, see the flight attendant, smile and say something like "hello! I have an extra seat for the cello, but their was a mistake and the cello doesn't have a window seat, I am sorry for the inconvenience".
Be kind and smile, (she or he will check if the flight is full. They might have to move someone: be thankful :))
ON THE PLANE
INSTALLING YOUR CELLO
As soon as you get on board : After saying a happy "hello" to the flight attendant, tell them "I have a ticket for the cello, we are on row "X", I will need an extension to strap it in, thank you".
They might ask you if you need assistance, be honnest, if you are not sure they will be happy to help.
Most of the time they tell you that they will bring you the seatbelt exension to your seat so you don't block the entrance meanwhile they get it. Sometimes, it can happen that they forget because they have been busy dealing with other things. If you see that they are about to start the security instructions, remind them...
INSTALLING THE CELLO
Sometimes flight attendants might tell you the cello must touch the floor, other will tell you it should not touch the floor... or other special request, AVOID ARGUING, airlines don't have the same policy on board...
If there is not enough space between the seats, you can move the seat cushion (scratch) to a vertical position; but if you choose to put the case upside down it should not be a problem...
this is from British ariways, clic here for the whole file
I always choose head down for the cello, unless the crew tells me something different. It is often the best solution when there is not a lot of leg space (& because the height of a CBBG shall not exceed the seat height except for seats next to or ahead of the cabin wall). But again, if the crew tells you head up, don't argue... see picture below on a flight with Transavia with my 2 celli, I never argue, the most important is to be on board ;)
Here is a picture of the cello case touching the floor of the plane:
Here is a picture with both of my celli head up:
SECURING THE CELLO?
Sometimes the flight attendant might ask you if you "secured the cello", this means that the belt goes through the handle of your case, so in instence of turbulence the cello doesn't slip away ;) [always think positive when you are on a plane ;) ! ]
Here a picture of the belt going through the handle of the case:
All set? Seat in upright position? Armrest(s) down? Then, that's it, you are ready!
Enjoy your flight!
A few points you might want to consider :
-Humidity level in the cabins is very low, you might want to prepare your cello case with a humidifier for long flights and don't forget to drink water, you need it more than the cello ;)-You cannot book an extra seat with your frequent flyer miles, or do it at your own risk, it will only depends on the person at the check in desk. (I got unlucky once with Airfrance, they unloaded my luggages and cancelled my flight... )I only flew a few times with Lufthansa, everytime I bought 2 full tickets online because the fare I got offered on the phone was too high, I didn't have any problem at the airport (but may be I got lucky). I remember that once in Frankfurt someone came specially with a huge rope to attach the cello to the seat, and during the flight the rope felt ;) ...
British airways : Securing a cello
Purchasing a Seat for your Musical Instrument with Air Canada
If you wish to purchase a seat for your musical instrument, you will receive a 50% discount on any published fare (including the lowest available fare)* to accommodate the instrument in the same cabin you are travelling in.
Exception: If you are seated in Business Class on a flight offering Business Class pods, your musical instrument will, for safety reasons, be placed in Economy Class.
Also for safety reasons, extra seats may be purchased for musical instruments not exceeding 162.5 cm (64 in.) in height/length or 36 kg (80 lb.) in weight. The number of musical instruments that can be accommodated on each flight is limited.
Cabin baggage reservation procedure
1. Book two seats during the same entry
2. Add name element as follows;
3. Add SSR-element with dimensions in order length x width x height and weight
SR CBBG AY NN1-CELLO DIMS 135X45X35 CM 20KGS/S3/P1
4. Price the passenger normally and then make manual TST for the CBBG. Remember to add YR and/or YQ taxes.
TTI/P2/BPFLEX-CB/A00K/FEUR1395.00/XEUR26.00YR/CHEL AY STO329.23NUC329.23END ROE5.796111
CBBG rules with Cathay Pacific:
Advance notice of 72 working hours is required for CBBG request
Below table is the summary on the condition of carriage, size and weight limitation and tie-down method of CBBG. For CBBG request which beyond the acceptable limitations shall be rejected
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