Qantas Finally in Tune with Frustrated Musicians

Information: An article about musician travel difficulties that includes Mark.

Author: Michaela Boland, The Australian.

Date: 29 February 2012.

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Article Text

Former Hunters & Collectors frontman Mark Seymour had complained about airline baggage limits. Picture: David Geraghty. Source: The Australian
QANTAS will today unveil a new musician-friendly travel policy that will allow touring musicians to check in an additional item of luggage free and share luggage among band members.

The amendment follows changes to Qantas’s check-in systems last year that musicians said made flying with their instruments and equipment difficult and expensive.

Singer-songwriter Holly Throsby, who last year told The Australian she had burst into tears of frustration at airports when trying to check in with Qantas, welcomed the new policy. “I’m very happy to hear Qantas is doing something for musicians as well,” Ms Throsby said.

Last September, Virgin Australia released a music industry-friendly policy that enabled accredited musicians to check through an extra two luggage items for no extra cost. The three items can weigh up to 32kg.

The Qantas deal, effective from tomorrow and requiring 48 hours notice, permits an extra checked item. The two items can weigh up to 46kg, or 64kg for Qantas Club members.

Former Hunters & Collectors frontman Mark Seymour had complained about the baggage limits that he said had made travel a “nightmare”. Seymour often travels solo, with two guitars, a bag of gear and suitcase.

When told of the changes yesterday, he praised Qantas’s decision to let musicians travelling together pool their luggage — important when, for example, drummers are on the road. While the new allowances would reduce his costs, he said the problems he encountered with Qantas last year eroded loyalty he once felt to the carrier.

The Australian Music Industry Network estimates the sector’s 65,000 musicians collectively spend between $10 million and $20m a year on air travel.

According to industry group Music Victoria, the introduction of Virgin’s musician-friendly deal, widely promoted by music industry bodies, resulted in musicians switching from Qantas to Virgin on competitive routes over the past six months.

A Qantas spokeswoman says the company did not perceive it had lost business. “(The music industry) is a very important sector for us . . . and we’re always reviewing our processes,” she says.

Throsby says: “It’s definitely an improvement. The main thing for musicians is being able to split the weight across numerous items.”