Airlines’ policies on instruments

So last week, the International Federation of Musicians published a table of airlines and their musical instrument policy, all rated with a traffic light system. Air travel with instruments is super stressful for a number of reasons. First off because people are becoming more and more outrageous with their hand luggage to avoid having to pay to check a bag. I’m pretty certain we all have a similar strategy – check in online, to early enough to be at the front of the queue (unless you have priority), place instrument in overhead bin ASAP and hold your breath until the plane takes off in case someone tries to jam an enormous bag in top of your horn repeatedly.

Aside from the space issue, the main problem is that airlines are notoriously vague with their instrument policies and it really does come down to the discretion of the people you interact with on your way to the plane. So, you also learn to toe the fine line between sycophant and assertive professional just in case someone questions your instrument.

I’m pretty lucky because a trumpet just scrapes in under the regular cabin luggage dimensions. I have a Torpedo case which is great for protection but a little too wide if the bins are extra small but I also have a very small soft case that basically guarantees it will fit under the seat in front without anyone even knowing it’s there.


All this meant I was very excited to see this list having been published and rushed to check it out. I have to say the results confused me a little bit. Some of the ratings seem strange to me but I think it’s because they are rated in terms of the clarity of their policy (correct me if I’m wrong?) rather than the actual real world experience. For example, Aer Lingus is one of my favourite low cost airlines to fly because they have always been so great with instruments – not only can you bring the horn in addition to your regular hand luggage but there have been occasions where a stewardess has approached R having recognised that he is carrying a tenor saxophone and offered to store it in a special place to avoid him having to use the overhead bins. But on this list, Aer Lingus are given a red rating. EasyJet on the other hand are awarded amber, but the wording on their policy seems less accomodating and seems to suggest buying an extra seat as the way forward. Are they given amber because they are kind enough offer us the option of buying another seat for our instrument? I don’t really get it…

That said, it’s useful to have this kind of resource and perhaps we just need to be able to add notes to give first hand experience to provide a fuller picture.

I am still waiting for the day that professional musicians are guaranteed to be able to bring their instruments on-board hassle-free which seems a pretty reasonable request…

Here’s the full list.

Thanks, MJF!


Thanks to everyone who came to see us at Manchester Jazz Festival at the end of July – coming from our gig at The Vortex a week or so previous, it was great to continue the run with a crowd as responsive and enthusiastic as MJF was!

We have some exciting news coming soon but in the mean time, enjoy this very silly photo of us taken by Porl Medlock. Thanks to all at Jazz North for our inclusion in the Northern Line scheme.

NEWS: LOCUS Release on New Jazz Records

New Jazz RecordsI’m delighted to spread the news that two LOCUS tracks have been released by the New Jazz Records label and are available to listen to and purchase on the New Jazz Records Bandcamp page.

The tracks come from our Leeds date at HEART in Headingley during our UK tour back in November. James Hamilton did a great job of recording us and I’m really pleased with the results.

It acts as a little taster for a full album release we’ll make on the label later this year.

The tracks, like everything on the label, are offered on a pay-what-you-feel basis (and let me tell you, whatever you decide to pay you’ll be getting value for money as our two tracks total just shy of 30 minutes of music!)

The two tunes available are Leah Gough-Cooper’s Ex Machina and Riley Stone-Lonergan’s Meteors. (We played Meteors with Enrico Zanisi’s trio at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival and it went down a storm)

So do please go ahead and have a listen to our tracks and stay tuned for more.

Edinburgh Jazz Festival – Kim Macari/Enrico Zanisi Project

It’s less than two weeks until my new project with Italian pianist Enrico Zanisi debuts at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival. Through LOCUS, I’ve become accustomed to developing projects long distance but nevertheless I’m looking forward to getting into the rehearsal studio next weekend with the band. We’ll be playing some of my material, some of Enrico’s and some of Riley’s. Plus I’ve arranged a tune that I really love that I think we’ll open the gig with. It’s a concept that I’m very drawn to; opening the gig with a certain type of tune. Ideally one not written by anyone in the band and something quite open. It gives the musicians the best chance to settle in and play at their best. We did that with our last LOCUS tour with a Ken Wheeler tune called Onmo and it worked well. The tune I’ve chosen for this gig is beautiful and I can’t wait to play it. I’m also really looking forward to working with a quintet as it’s a line-up I haven’t worked with in a while. I used to do it all the time and then I started to be drawn to three horn frontlines. It’s been really rewarding to working with Family Band, a quartet, and I think the quintet will be a lot of fun.

It’s a real honour to be double-billing with Melissa Aldana, too. She’s a wonderful musician and it’ll be great to hear her play. If you haven’t already, please do check out both my collaborator Enrico Zanisi and Melissa Aldana and I hope to see you there on Monday 20th July!

May 2015

Kim Macari by Ben HodgesIt’s certainly been a while since I’ve updated this site. It’s one of the disadvantages of being a plate-spinner (or, as it’s offically called – a portfolio career…) I’ve been focused for a while on Apollo Jazz Network as we are currently working on a very large and ambitious project. For the last few months, I’ve been developing a funding bid, meeting with funders and partners in the project and getting ready to submit it to the Arts Council. Now, as I enter into the final stretch I’m experiencing a real hesitance. On the one hand, I’m desperate to submit the bid because it’ll be a long wait to hear from the funders about their decision. And, because if this bid is successful it would mean a lot to me and to my career. On the other hand, though, I feel as if I’m almost stalling because once I submit it, that’s it. What if we don’t get it? It’s difficult to think about. I don’t want to share lots of details right now on what it will be, but I am so convinced that it will be an exciting and important thing for the jazz scene in the North of England.

To other things, now. I am very excited to be featured in this year’s Edinburgh Jazz Festival with a very special project. I will be collaborating with Enrico Zanisi, a wonderful Italian pianist. Our gig is a double-header with Melissa Aldana’s Crash Trio and I’m delighted to be in such illustrious company. We’ll be performing music by myself and Enrico and I can’t wait to get started. The gig is on July 20th at 8pm at the Festival Theatre Studio in Edinburgh. Tickets are £15 and are on sale now on the EJF website.

On that note, you’ll see some new photographs of me appearing. These were taken by a great photographer, Ben Hodges. If you’re looking for a photographer, I’d urge you to consider Ben – beautiful photos and a lovely man to work with.