Musicians livid over damage to instruments on flights

Musicians livid over damage to instruments on flights

Sitars and guitars, though marked 'fragile', are handed roughly in transit, and airlines shrug off all responsibility

Shubhendra Rao, the well-known musician based in Bengaluru, found his sitar damaged on a recent trip from Sydney to Delhi via Bangkok.

He suspects it happened during the last leg of the flight from Bangkok to Delhi, when he was on Jet Airways. The airline flatly refused to take any responsibility.

Rao says he had taken all precautions, placing the instrument in an unbreakable fibreglass box and wrapping it in a rexine cover with thick padding.

His problem is not uncommon. Many Bengaluru musicians have been in such situations.

Joe Jacob

Anthony Kamal, drummer with singer Chandan Shetty’s band, says the airlines should be held responsible. He has seen baggage handlers throwing fragile items around. “When you ask them, they apologise and continue doing what they always do,” he says.                                                        

Joe Jacob, drummer with the Raghu Dixit project, says some airlines are sensitive, and compensate for damaged instruments.

“Indigo replaced our singer Raghu’s guitar when he tweeted about damage,” he says.

“As a band, we mostly put our instruments, especially the guitars, in a soft case and carry it with us. We do not check them in,” he says.

Sitarist Gopal Krishna says airlines must be held responsible as they charge extra for fragile items.

“Not everyone can book separate seats for instruments like Pandit Ravi Shankar used to. My sitar has been damaged many times,” he says.

Even when a piece of baggage is plastered with ‘fragile’ stickers, handlers throw it around. If confronted, their standard response is that they will take care next time,” he says.

Jagadis Natarajan

Jagadis Natarajan, who plays with the band Agam, says his guitar was broken when he was flying Air India.

Hafiz Khan

He reached out to them in Chennai, but they said the damage was caused elsewhere and not in Chennai. “Airlines must take the time to train baggage handlers,” he says.

Hafiz Khan, well-known sitarist, was travelling by Cathay Pacific on his first trip to the US to attend the Akka Sammelana when his instrument was damaged.