FYI: BA and guitars (again)

Old Feb 24, 18, 7:32 am
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Unhappy FYI: BA and guitars (again)

Howdy all,

I have flown BA LHR-FCO-LHR twice a year for many years since BA allowed me to take my guitar onboard. Evidently, the policy changed and I now either have to (1) check the instrument or (2) buy a seat on board. I decided to buy a seat.

The problem is that each BA CS rep I have spoken to gives a different account of how to do that. As of now, I have booked on the web and then rung to have them add the guitar to my booking (as the last CS rep said I should do). Amazingly, no BA CS rep can actually book the instrument. Instead the 'revenue department' -- some back office function that no one including CS reps can speak to directly --has to decide what the fare should be, despite the fact that all the BA CS reps say the fare should be the lowest Econ fare without taxes.

Since the fare applicable is the fare prevailing at the the time the BA revenue dept get around to looking at my request, I have no idea what they will want to charge me. I booked my ticket on a Friday morning and it might take them until Monday to get back to me.

My tentative (cynical) conclusion: perhaps by making it time-consuming and annoying and potentially expensive, BA are trying to discourage musicians from flying BA.
My tentative (more realistic) conclusion: it might be better to fly a lower cost airline and buy a seat for the guitar-- one would then save some money and avoid having to deal with BA malarkey (although that might dealing with new malarkey).

Thoughts welcome.

Birksworks
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Old Feb 24, 18, 7:47 am
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Originally Posted by Birksworks View Post
Howdy all,

I have flown BA LHR-FCO-LHR twice a year for many years since BA allowed me to take my guitar onboard. Evidently, the policy changed and I now either have to (1) check the instrument or (2) buy a seat on board. I decided to buy a seat.

The problem is that each BA CS rep I have spoken to gives a different account of how to do that. As of now, I have booked on the web and then rung to have them add the guitar to my booking (as the last CS rep said I should do). Amazingly, no BA CS rep can actually book the instrument. Instead the 'revenue department' -- some back office function that no one including CS reps can speak to directly --has to decide what the fare should be, despite the fact that all the BA CS reps say the fare should be the lowest Econ fare without taxes.

Since the fare applicable is the fare prevailing at the the time the BA revenue dept get around to looking at my request, I have no idea what they will want to charge me. I booked my ticket on a Friday morning and it might take them until Monday to get back to me.

My tentative (cynical) conclusion: perhaps by making it time-consuming and annoying and potentially expensive, BA are trying to discourage musicians from flying BA.
My tentative (more realistic) conclusion: it might be better to fly a lower cost airline and buy a seat for the guitar-- one would then save some money and avoid having to deal with BA malarkey (although that might dealing with new malarkey).

Thoughts welcome.

Birksworks
The team arent deciding the price they set up another reservation with 1 seat available to hold the space off. It just then depends what fare is available at this point. The extra seat is either priced by you then paying the applicable lowest fare however there is a minimum charge for extra seat.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 7:54 am
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Dear Anonba,

I dont doubt that they aren't going to invent a price. The absurdity is that I cant just pay for the guitar seat when I make the booking, but have to wait until the revenue department to get to to it-- which may well mean that the fare is higher that the fare I paid when I made the booking. Why this takes four days to do is not immediately evident.

It is also fairly unimpressive that each BA CS rep gives a different version of how to do it (which I omitted because it would be even more tedious).

Essentially, however, it means that BA are now as much or more of pain than everyone else when it comes to musical instruments. Is this a step forward? I think not.

I'd be curious to know why BA changed their policy.

Regards,

Birksworks
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Old Feb 24, 18, 8:12 am
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Originally Posted by Birksworks View Post
I'd be curious to know why BA changed their policy.
So if I understand it right, in previous years your guitar was free. Now you need to buy an additional seat, therefore generating additional revenue for the airline.

You have your answer.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 8:32 am
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Originally Posted by simons1 View Post
So if I understand it right, in previous years your guitar was free. Now you need to buy an additional seat, therefore generating additional revenue for the airline.

You have your answer.
Well, he has *part* of the answer. Now, if you want to take your instrument on board, you have to buy the extra seat for it. We get that.

However, it still doesn't answer the question about the circuitous way that this has to be done. You can't just book the extra seat online when booking your own. Buying a seat for your instrument as if it was a passenger is fraught with problems as you can't give it any old name. A tick box or option at time of booking would be ideal, but instead you then have to call up, get one of several versions of the story about how it should be done, then wait several days to find out which fare bucket it might have ended up in. Not ideal.

I'm minded to agree with the OP's conclusion that BA would rather not have the hassle given the recent issues with musical instruments, and does what it can to dissuade passengers from bringing them on board at all.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 8:35 am
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Piggybacking on this. Iím booked in CE - can I take my guitar anboard? The middle seat is not used and I would ask for it to be put in the wardrobe. Or do I have to buy an ET seat and have an unaccompanied instrument in a different cabin?
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Old Feb 24, 18, 9:51 am
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wmaciej: From what i've been told, the guitar has to go in a window seat and the passenger has to sit next to it. Of course, I have been told a number of things that turned out to be 'wrong' according to the next CS rep. If correct, however, that would rule out (a) guitar in middle seat and (b) passenger not sitting next to guitar (eg in a separate cabin).

Best of luck and let us know how it goes!
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Old Feb 24, 18, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by V10 View Post
You can't just book the extra seat online when booking your own. Buying a seat for your instrument as if it was a passenger is fraught with problems as you can't give it any old name.
It's very simple on easyJet - you just book the extra seat online as if a normal passenger and call it "Mr Seat Cello".

(only cellos are accepted in a seat as they are the right size)
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Old Feb 24, 18, 10:46 am
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I seem to remember BA offloaded a cellist from a flight to the USA because the cello did not have an Esta. Beware which destinations you take your guitar.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by Ldnn1 View Post
It's very simple on easyJet - you just book the extra seat online as if a normal passenger and call it "Mr Seat Cello".

(only cellos are accepted in a seat as they are the right size)
Yes, I saw that! 'Mr Seat Cello', very nice!

I have an enormous flight case for the guitar. people often ask me if the thing inside is a cello, because the case is so large. Perhaps I could take the guitar on board in that,say nothing, and pretend that it is a cello...except the flight times dont work for me, but next trip perhaps.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 11:13 am
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Originally Posted by rapidex View Post
I seem to remember BA offloaded a cellist from a flight to the USA because the cello did not have an Esta. Beware which destinations you take your guitar.

I thought this was a joke, but no:

British Airways stops musician from flying with cello as 'it didn't have a visa' | The Independent

But this illustrates how the 'new policy' doesnt work well: you cant book a seat for an instrument online, but have to phone a call centre. The call centre staff have very different ideas about how it is supposed to work and give the customer the run-around. In the end, you have to hope that 'the revenue department' actually exists and will make a booking for your instrument-- although you cant know in advance what it will cost. Sound like a deterrent?
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Old Feb 24, 18, 12:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Birksworks View Post
Dear Anonba,

I dont doubt that they aren't going to invent a price. The absurdity is that I cant just pay for the guitar seat when I make the booking, but have to wait until the revenue department to get to to it-- which may well mean that the fare is higher that the fare I paid when I made the booking. Why this takes four days to do is not immediately evident.

It is also fairly unimpressive that each BA CS rep gives a different version of how to do it (which I omitted because it would be even more tedious).

Essentially, however, it means that BA are now as much or more of pain than everyone else when it comes to musical instruments. Is this a step forward? I think not.

I'd be curious to know why BA changed their policy.

Regards,

Birksworks
Hi there are actually two ways to do this. The first is set up a booking as you have done and then call to add. The alternative is call up and book through sales. Sales can hold off the 2 seats and then send the booking to be priced but at least means the fare for the extra seat is based on the availability held at that point or if it was lower the minimum pricing.

From memory i think the minimum pricing is £40 for short haul each way and £300 each way for long haul.

Last edited by Anonba; Feb 24, 18 at 12:21 pm
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Old Feb 24, 18, 12:10 pm
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Hello. This is somewhat of a specialist subject for me now. the BA customer services line on this is that they have not changed their policy, though their customer services team were quoted by a national newspaper as saying that the policy has changed. The reason for the change-not-change is that new BA aircraft have slimmer seats in Y to increase the number of seats, and current BA aircraft are being refurbished for the same reason. This means overheard locker space will be at more of a premium on some planes, and of course, it's all of the guitars that all of us musicians are stuffing up there on every flight causing a problem.

Check in staff will look at you as if you're bringing munitions on board if you arrive at the desk with a guitar. They'll tell you that hard cases must be checked, and that soft cases must have a seat. Save yourself the trouble by keeping it out of their eyeline. They don't want to have the conversation either, as the know the new rules are stupid. BA cabin crew have all been great, and have always found somewhere to put the guitar if there's no room in the overhead. Even on 'completely full' flights in E170s out of LCY, there's room in the overhead compartments. On a widebody plane, there's enough closest space to accommodate a mariachi band or three.

I flew BKK-KUL-LHR-AMS/AMS-LHR-PHX-SJO at Christmas in F. At AMS the check in agents tried to deny me boarding because I had a guitar in a soft case. They suggested I buy a seat for the guitar, in First, for £4,000, despite the fact that I'd literally just flown halfway around the world with it. That's the state of play with this ridiculous policy. Another musician I know recently was ordered to buy a seat next to her in Y for her instrument, but after an hour at the ticket desk, nobody could figure out to charge for it, so she was allowed to carry it on with her in the end. It's ludicrous.

From experience, EasyJet, Bangkok Air, American, and most others will allow you to carry your guitar on board as your hand luggage, without booking it a seat. American, too. Swiss insist that you book it a seat, this can be done over the phone relatively easily. Cathay and Singapore will insist that you check it (at the gate if you plead with them). LATAM domestic will make you wait until literally everyone else has boarded, then you can try to find somewhere in the overhead to stow it.
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Old Feb 24, 18, 12:37 pm
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What a shame .
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Old Feb 24, 18, 1:23 pm
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Originally Posted by Anonba View Post


Hi there are actually two ways to do this. The first is set up a booking as you have done and then call to add. The alternative is call up and book through sales. Sales can hold off the 2 seats and then send the booking to be priced but at least means the fare for the extra seat is based on the availability held at that point or if it was lower the minimum pricing.

From memory i think the minimum pricing is £40 for short haul each way and £300 each way for long haul.
Thanks for your reply.

Indeed, I was first told to use method (2) ( call sales, book both at the same time). Then when I called back to do that, the 'change ticket' expert insisted that this was completely wrong and that I had to do method (1) (web booking, add instrument). He also said that he was able to add the guitar and charge me. I asked him to wait whil eI did he booking and he said I should ring him back-- giving me his name an extension number. He said I could speak directly to him again.

Naturally, when I rang back, person three said there was no way to speak to person two and that person two was wrong in any case. He then decided he should call bakc in 20 minutes , once he figured out what to so (he had no idea, although he knew person two was wrong). Person three phoned back and said, well, he could not do it, but some back office could do it and that it would be done in 24 hours. Call 24 hours later, person four says: no one can speak to this team, we just need to wait until they get around to it. Also, we have no idea what they will charge.

Shambolic?
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