“It’s a very unique instrument, handmade instrument with unique bird’s eye maple on the back,” said Popp. “I’ve enjoyed playing it a long time.”
Popp said she can empathize with violinist Yennifer Correia, who was on her way to St. Louis and then Columbia to play with the Missouri Symphony Orchestra before a situation with her stringed instrument while boarding a United flight wound up in an alleged wrestling match.
“These are the rules: all you can take with you is a personal item and the instrument is too big, it’s not going to fit,” Correia said, recounting her interaction with United staff.
According to the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, a passenger is allowed to carry a violin, guitar, or other small musical instrument in the aircraft cabin.
“Well, it makes you worry as a professional musician,” Popp said. “You need to travel. I’ve considered what I would do is get off the flight. Your instrument is worth way more, especially for a professional musician; way, way more than any other travel arrangements.”
“The (airline) employees do not know what the law is,” said Steve Nowels, a sales partner at Top Notch Violins. “That’s the biggest problem. They don’t understand that these instruments cost thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars and they’re these people’s livelihood.”
Correia’s violin, coming from Houston to St. Louis, was made in the 17th century. She considers it priceless.
“When you’re a musician, you have to take the time to fall in love with an instrument and that’s a great search, to find the instrument that’s right for you,” Nowels said. “And when you find it, you want to protect it with your life.”