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Aurigny should change its tune on instruments

Readers' Letters | Published:

REGARDING the recent article ‘Musical instruments on Aurigny’, we have for the past few years had problems with artists bringing their guitars on Aurigny, but this was never the case in years gone by.

Last year we had to find local instruments for one band to use. This worked but was not ideal. This year the lead guitarist of this band is having to remove the neck off his guitar to put it in a case (not ideal). Another act are now all coming by ferry as the cost of just their three guitars is £240. We even asked if they could share a case and use a case allowance for a guitar. This was refused.

I don’t like criticising any company as I know things may be more complicated than we may know, but as with all businesses we have to change our standard operation to oblige some of our customers, in our case special diets, switching rooms to accommodate a guest’s needs etc. These changes are sometimes costly to us but part of what we do to please the guests.

I think and hope Aurigny will take into account the special needs of musicians and will alter their rules to help them and make bringing entertainment to Guernsey a little less costly.

KEN SMITH,

Wayside Cheer Hotel.

Editor’s footnote: Mark Darby, CEO of Aurigny replies:

Thank you for the opportunity to reply to this letter and provide some further clarity over our new musical instruments policy.

First of all, I would like to reassure your readers that we do fully appreciate the valuable contribution that musicians make to the islands and will continue to look after them as best we can. It is also important to make clear that our updated policy does not actually change how the majority of musicians are permitted to travel with their instruments. In fact, ahead of any changes, we listened to their views and as a consequence introduced important revisions that will make it easier for many of our travelling musicians.

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For example, under the new policy, those travelling with violins and violas have had their allowance increased. Now, as long as the instrument and case is no bigger than 20cm x 36cm x 100cm (previously 48cm) they can be carried as a piece of hand baggage and placed in the overhead locker.

A key clarification relates to medium- sized instruments, such as cellos and guitars. These can be carried in the cabin, providing they can be safely secured in the aircraft. This is no different from our previous policy and means that the passenger can choose to keep hold of their instrument at all times, effectively as hand luggage. The instrument must not exceed the width of a passenger seat (48cm), it cannot exceed 32kg in weight and the centre of mass must not be more than 30cm above the seat cushion. As was previously the case, an additional seat has to be purchased for the instrument, so it can be properly secured during the flight.

For other larger instruments, there is unfortunately no option to carry them in the cabin, as they are too big and heavy. They must travel in the hold and be collected in the baggage reclaim area, where they will be delivered separately from other baggage.

While we previously had special arrangements with a small number of musicians to allow them to collect the instruments directly from the hold (on the tarmac) we are no long permitted to do this. For absolutely clarity, this is not a decision of our making and is instead based on the current UK Customs and security requirements, which we must comply with. The same would be expected of all other carriers flying into major UK airports like Gatwick and we have been told there are no exceptions. As a responsible operator, we cannot ignore them.

We have offered to meet with interested parties to explain the policy and the latest rules and regulations and this meeting is due to take place next week.

Our full musical instrument policy is under the FAQ section of our website (click on the luggage link). In addition to our policy, we have always advised customers that all musical instruments must be carried in suitable protective cases/containers, designed for air transportation.

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