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Information for Musicians Flying with Larger Instruments on British Airways

When travelling with British Airways, an additional seat for larger musical instruments cannot be booked online and the airline must be contacted directly, ideally at the time of the initial booking.

Photo ofDave Webster
By Dave Webster Published: 20 December 2023 | 6:24 PM
A miniature figurine of a porter with a full luggage cart, placed on the neck of an acoustic guitar. Instrument and baggage concept.
It is important to note that an additional seat for a musical instrument cannot be booked online. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The MU has recently been in touch with British Airways to confirm their procedure for booking an additional seat for a musicial instrument. When an instrument in its case is longer than 80 cm (such as a guitar or cello), it will require a seat booked for it or it will travel in the hold as checked baggage.

It is important to note however that an additional seat for a musical instrument cannot be booked online.

If you need to book an additional seat for any instrument in its case between 80 and 140 cm long, you will need to contact British Airways directly, or by booking through your travel agent. This should be at least 72 hours in advance of your journey, and not less than 48 hours before you fly, if at all possible.

Seat booking procedure

British Airways has told us that booking the additional seat for your instrument at the same time as you book your travel is the best way for it to be correctly linked with your own seat on one ticket.

If you want to add an additional seat for your instrument after you have booked your flight, you must contact British Airways or your Travel Agent to add it into your booking as soon as you can and at least 48 hours before you fly.

Any additional seat added in after the initial booking is completed using a different booking code and may not be as obvious at first to the airport staff, even though it is in your booking.

Additionally, if your flight has been cancelled and rebooked or changed for any reason, the additional seat booking may have been re-processed, and the booking may need refreshing for the additional seat to be seen. If you have any issues at the airport, ask to speak to the duty manager, as they can look in more detail at your booking - another reason to get to the airport early.

British Airways has had a big push to inform Travel Agents of the correct procedure for booking additional seats for musical instruments.

As part of a review of their musical instrument provisions, an airport ‘pre-check-in review’ at 48 hours prior to a flight has been put in place to highlight any seating issue and have it rectified in the system prior to check-in.

Smaller instruments

Instruments in their cases under 80 cm long can be taken in the cabin as part of your hand baggage allowance, in place of the second larger piece of carry-on baggage.

View the latest information on musical instruments as baggage on British Airways.

Overview of key points

The following points are important to remember when booking with British Airways, for either yourself or through a third party:

  • An additional seat for a musical instrument cannot be booked online. You will need to contact British Airways directly or your travel agent.
  • You need to book the additional seat as early as possible, ideally at the same time as you book your travel.
  • If you want to add an additional seat for your instrument after you have made your booking, you will need to contact British Airways directly or your travel agent.
  • Your additional seat is linked to your booking on a single ticket (some airlines use a two-ticket process, but British Airways uses a one-ticket process), and there is no additional ticket for your instrument.

We asked BA to update their online information to make this clearer, which they have done, and they are regularly reviewing the content of their musical instrument baggage page.

If you have any difficulty when flying with your instrument, contact your regional office so we can help.

Need more information on international travel with musical instruments?

Visit our hub for advice on airline policies for instruments and luggage, how to prepare your instrument, precautions for rare materials, as well as instrument passports and permits.

View the hub

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