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Instruments on a Plane

Facebook chorus prompts Qantas to scrap instruments ban

(AFP)

SYDNEY — Australian musicians Thursday said they had scored a victory against Qantas after a Facebook campaign helped persuade the airline to scrap a ban on carrying instruments as cabin luggage.

Jazz saxophonist Jamie Oehlers started the online protest when Qantas introduced a policy requiring all musical instruments except violins and violas to be checked in and stored in the cargo hold.

“After travelling with them for 20 years, I was made to check my saxophone in for the first time a few weeks ago, causing 1,200 dollars worth of damage,” Oehlers wrote, launching the Facebook campaign last month.

“I want to get a boycott of Qantas by musicians in place until they reverse this ridiculous policy.”

More than 8,700 people joined the group, including members of the country’s symphony orchestras, posting stories and pictures of instruments that had been damaged in the cargo hold.

Qantas confirmed Thursday it had reversed the policy from December 24.

“In this situation we were able to listen to our customers and we were able to provide a change in our policy,” a Qantas spokeswoman told AFP.

She said Qantas was aware of the Facebook group and had spoken to Oehlers, but the policy change followed a wide range of “feedback received directly by our customer care team”.

Oehlers, about to depart for a gig in New York, said it was a victory for the Australian musical community, an “inspiring group of people”.

“I’m sure we’ll be crossing paths or bumping into each other at the airports with our instruments on our shoulders,” he wrote on the Facebook site.

The new policy allows small musical instruments as carry-on baggage, provided they are no longer than 81 centimetres (32 inches), higher than 30 centimetres or more than 19 centimetres deep.

Copyright © 2010 AFP. All rights reserved.

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