Musicians know the drill.
Traveling with a large instrument generally means paying for an extra seat so that your livelihood can fly with you.
The alternative is to risk damaging your precious cargo by checking it as luggage.
The horror stories are numerous, and have likely kept many a musician from sleeping soundly the night before a flight.
But shelling out big bucks for an additional ticket doesn't always guarantee a smooth ride.
As the CBC reports, a group of students from Mount Royal University's Conservatory in Calgary met with great inconvenience after Air Canada reportedly refused to allow four cellos to fly on the same aircraft.
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Instead, the students claim, a representative from the Canadian airline told the group they maintain a strict two-cello-per-flight policy.
That meant the band of 14 students was forced to split up over two separate flights to Toronto. They were then allowed on the same flight to Warsaw — their ultimate destination.
Conservatory director Paul Dornian was not impressed, telling the news network this is the first time he's ever heard of the supposed "two cello" rule.
He added that the students met with no resistance when they all flew together from Calgary to Toronto.
Dornian, who has served as director at the renowned institution since 1992, urged the airline to set a clearer policy when it comes to transporting a musical instrument.
"In most cases, if you do that sort of work ahead of time, then you know the airline seems to be fine with it," he told CBC.
"Just in these cases, as I said, I think somebody was overzealous at the gate. The people at the check-in seemed to think everything would be just fine."
The Mount Royal group is not the first to experience these seemingly arbitrary rules.
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Cellist Paul Katz told the network that even after he purchased an additional ticket for his 343-year-old instrument, and long after he had cleared both check-in and security, he was told during pre-boarding that "regulations" dictated he would have to check his cello with the rest of the luggage underneath the plane.
"I just went out of my mind with fear, and my imagination went crazy," he noted. "In the end, the ... baggage handlers strapped it down well and I got it back, and it was safe, but cellists know there are many horror stories of instruments getting cracked up down in baggage and that's why we buy seats."
In a statement, Air Canada denied having a limit on the number of instruments allowed on a plane, but added that everything ultimately depended on the size of the aircraft.
Instructions on their website note that seats may be purchased for larger instruments.
Considering cellos — including their heavy cases — weigh less than most people, however, it's unclear why Air Canada would allow the seat to be sold in the first place were they concerned about excess poundage.
Tubas, on the other hand, are a strict "check only" according to TSA guidelines.
(Photo courtesy Reuters)