Stop Traveling Musicians' Abuse!!! - About this cause




Connect with Arkady!!!

Dear fellow musicians or anyone with a heart! 

Until this topic -- "STOP TRAVELING MUSICIANS ABUSE (at the airports etc.)!!!" -- fades away into a distant memory, I intend to draw as much attention to it as I can!!! 

This section of my ARKADY.COM website is divided into 3 Parts:


Below on this page is my Explanation, as if we are talking One on One... I have a lot to say about this topic and how it has effected my life as a musician! I'll try to record an Audio Version of this Personal Explanation, so that you can multi-task and hear it while driving or whatever. If you want more details, you are always free to explore Parts 2 and 3! But no matter, please read my Personal Explanation below. I can't get more "from the heart than that", even if I were to use some really colorful English:), which I did my best not to....

Part 2 - LOG

a Log-Synopsis of the countless emails I have sent to everyone, including: airlines, musicians and the "civilians", NYC's Musicians Union, Local 802; American Federation of Musicians (AF of M); and some politicians etc. The newest ones are added at the top...


is mostly videos and articles, plus some useful links.

I welcome your written feedback, horror stories, ideas. With your permission, I might use them here, anonymously, if you'd like! You are welcome to to subscribed to ARKADY.COM NESLETTER. But most important...



Ever since I was a kid in back in the USSR, in Kiev Ukraine, I often dreamed of composing my own music, poetry, paintings etc...  I had many big heroes to look up to, but, to save time, I'll just name a few: Charlie Parker, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, John Coltrane, Mozart, Bach, Tchaikovsky, Clifford Brown, Pushkin, Lermontov, Rembrandt, Repin and many many more...

As time went by, and my I came to NYC, USA, my childhood's heroes never left me. Their Timelessness, and Omni Presence in my heart became part of my DNA long before the mankind accepted such concepts as Internet, Call Forwarding, Time-Place Shifting...

"Can't Make It Up!", as a late friend and hero of mine and I used to say!!!


Over the years, I've seen many examples of how people would try to find their niche, try compose a hit in order to get a recording contract.

I didn't have the nepotism connections to help me skip waiting on line to "success"... So whatever I have achieved, I had to earn.... But, I don't want to get into therapy here:), cause you are probably asking your what all this have to do with the airlines, where musicians often get abused? 

Here we go again...:)!  -- Can't Make It Up!!!

Ever since a kid, I always wanted to travel the world, and see the places that my heroes painted through their music, words and art! I wanted to mix all their colors in and make them mine... Hey, who hasn't heard about the artists looking for their voice:)! I  know, it's almost sounds like a cliche, but it's true.... Can't Make It Up!!! Gotta be there, gotta live it!!!

So, over the years I found "my voice", except it wasn't limited to just one instrument, but 3, if I had to keep it to the  minimum: Alto, Soprano, Tenor saxophones!!! Among all the instruments I play (see my Contact Page for the complete list), I found these 3 instruments as my main tools for expressing my own compositions and most of other music I'd have to play on live gigs, or on the recordings, where I'd also add clarinet and flute! Sometimes life would have me add Baritone Sax to the mix, and it would be a lot of fun, but not the easiest instrument to run around with... In my next life, when I am little taller, I might even look less adorable with the Baritone Sax...

OK, back to Traveling Musicians Abuse...


Ever since 9/11/2001 Tragedy, when the world has changed, it became hoarder for everyone to travel... In the name of Security, the Airlines adopted some very customers unfriendly policies. The musicians, as is often the case, have been particularly harshly effected!

The days when I could bring all 3 horns (Alto, Soprano, Tenor saxophones) with me on the plane became an old faded memory, seemingly overnight!!! Traveling even with 2 saxophone and a bag (laptop, music, microphone etc in it) became even harder....

NYC Musicians' Union, and American Federation of Musicians made very little real progress in effort to protect the musicians. The politicians have bigger priorities to worry about instead of looking out for the musicians.

If you check out the rest of this topic in Parts 2 + 3, that I have mentioned earlier, you'd see more details, but I want to explain to you what all that means to Arkady PERSONALLY!


If it's a gentle slow ballad, I'd often choose Soprano Sax   to play on. I felt that way about that instrument long before I heard of Grover Washington Jr., and Kenny G later on. Maybe later I'll zoom in on that topic... But, back to airlines...

On some faster tunes, I'd need either Alto or and Tenor Sax... That's how I compose my music, that how Arkady hears it... This whole topic, that you are reading about here, effects my MUSIC directly, as I compose and practice!!! Trust me, I am not being overly dramatic here! As I am currently working on my next recording, I have to often have to commit to a particular saxophone! Sometimes, depending on a composition, that would require preparing the recording and the sheet music of a song in different keys, me and my musicians practicing it in different keys, and eventually recording it in a specific key!!! If a song includes vocals, the choice of keys, and thus instruments can become even more critical.

If you don't understand what all that means, ask some of your musicians friends to explain this to you! But, this is exactly why this topic of traveling with my instruments is always on my mind, and not just some unexplained obsession! My goal is to record all my music, and if I am lucky, I'd like to play my music around the world, which means flying with my instruments! That "how I am built", to quote another fellow musician, Vinnie Colaiuta, whom I had an honor to work with!


Airlines Security, if one can call it that, is farce, and a cruel joke on all of us, but I'll just talk about musicians who travel with their instruments....

I had to cut it down to 1 and occasionally 2 saxophones for my out of town gigs, and that is still a problem!!

Every time I'd go to the airport, my stomach would be turning, going crazy with the anxiety!!! And it would not be because of my fear of flying -- I love to fly! No, it would because at any time I could be a subject to the whims of either Airline clerks, at the counter, or at the gate, or TSA people, when going through the security! Anyone of those officials, for any reason, could stop me and demand that I check in one of my items under the plane, along with my suitcase! And it would have nothing to do with the size of my 2 saxophone cases, or my carry-on bag with the laptop, music etc in it! It would be simply a matter of ego, or a power trip -- all in the name of security, and public safety! 

We all know that luggage often gets lost, stolen, broken! So which of my 3 items: 2 saxes and bag with laptop should I entrust to airlines? Worst case scenario, the airline would be liable for maybe $2,000 after months and years of law suits, and paperwork etc! But that's not what's important!!! It's never been about the $$ with me or any other musician in a similar situation! 

To musicians, their instruments are almost like limbs, so you tell me:

which arm is more important to you: the right or the left one?

Can you buy another arm that is just as good as the original?!

Again, I am not looking to get overly dramatic, but I do suspect that, on this topic, I am expressing the overwhelming opinion of most all musicians !!! And so, after hearing horror stories from my friends for years, one day it was my turn to go through a similar nightmare!


A few years ago, I had a gig in Los Angeles, CA. It was a very important gig, and I was looking to do well on it. So, I brought my alto and soprano sax, plus my carrry-on bag with laptop, music, my special wireless microphone etc in it. The dimensions of all the items met most all Airlines Requirement in both Total Linear Inches Size = 45', and it didn't weigh much. The Soprano case, as you can see (this is a photo from that actual trip)

looks almost like a hard case for a postes people by on their trips... It's no bigger than 2 or 3 umbrellas that airlines attendants would let you bring on the plane... I don't think that umbrellas are counted as a separate carry-on items. So...

I got to the Airport in NYC, nervous, but smiling and looking my usual self -- happy musician-explorer, warm personality... No problem, everybody was nice and friendly. As usual, I thanked everyone: airlines and TSA Security staff for being nice to me, and asked them to be nice to all traveling musicians, who don't have it easy to begin with. The flight was great. I spoke about this very topic with the flight attendants! They were very friendly, and seemed to understand my concerns, as a traveling musician. The LA gig went great. And then THE NIGHTMARE!!!!

As I usually do, I arrived to the airport 2 hours before the flight, just like airlines want me to! No problem, I'd rather wait there, then fight the legendary LA traffic!

I got on the line and checked my suitcase, then I set down with my alto and soprano sax, plus my roll-on bag to have a bagel...

All of a sudden a TSA Agent comes up to me, and tells me to check in one of my saxophones as luggage, because I won't be able to go through the Security. No matter how I pleaded with that guy, it was like talking to a wall. In cruel irony, he even told me that his dad used to play piano and he understood my concerns!!! Hey, with compassion like that, who needs enemies:)! He refused to even let me see his supervisor, he alerted all his colleagues to not allow me to proceed to the 2nd floor, where I could ask to speak to his supervisor! I was treated as America's biggest threat since Osama Ben Ladin! Obviously, for some reason, my 2 saxophones, a bag and a bagel were too much for that creature! Maybe I just looked to happy?

So, the only solution I saw was to plead with the Airlines Supervisor! 

It was a nice African American Lady. Initially she also said no, but after I yet again begged her, and even offered to get on my knees LITERALY, NO JOKE, she said OK, and directed one of her employees to personally escort to me to the 2nd floor. Once there, nobody paid any attention to me. The security folks hardly looked through my bags! To them I looked just like a typical musician! I went through quickly, no problem whatsoever!!!

Once I passed through the security, I asked to speak to their supervisor. His name was Walter. Nice, calm, "all American"  (whatever that means) guy. So I explained to him what just happened. And he apologized, and said: "Like my mama used to tell me: Common Sense isn't so Common!" By that time, the CREATURE, "piano player's son", who caused that whole NIGHTMARE for me was nowhere to be found, and I just wanted to get on the plane, and go to sleep!

As soon as I thanked Walter, I saw an Airline worker walking. I asked him what his job was. He said: luggage handler. So I explained to him what just happened, and how it would have been a NIGHTMARE... I told him about my fears of having my horn lost, or stolen etc. Then I asked him if all those TV shows talking about baggage being broken and stolen were true, or just sensationalistic journalism?! This guy looked me in the eyes, man to man, and quitely, in the "off the record manner" said: "I am a guitar player, and I would NEVER, OVER MY DEAD BODY check in my guitar, it's my baby!!!" Now, that was not a TV Reporter talking to me, but a fellow musician, whose "day gig" happens to be luggage handler!!!

Here we go again...:)!  -- Can't Make It Up!!!

Then I got onto my flight back home to NYC, USA. The flight attendants were also friendly, like their colleagues on the flight to LA. They heard out my story, and said that it's not up to TSA to have anything to do with the luggage size, or number of pieces of luggage! TSA is there to  make sure that passengers don't bring anything illegal on the plane. It's up to the Airlines to deal with the luggage, and carry-ons! These ladies flight attendants told me that they would have never bothered me!!! Of course such attidute is in direct contradiction to a horrible reputation that some other airlines have, as far as their attitudes to musicians who travel with their instruments! But, back to that LA NIGHTMARE....

Now, was it the case of "Monkey In The Middle", or Passing The Buck?! I don't know, but it would have been a near CATOSTROPHY, if I had to check in one of my horns! Each one of them costs $4,000-6,000 which is above Airlines Liability Maximum of $2,000 or less?! But, MOST IMPORTANT -- my instruments are IRREPLACABLE!!! The other unthinkable choice would have been to check in my laptop, and hope that it's only broken, as opposed to STOLEN, including all my and other people's Private Personal Information in it?!

I'll say it again:

To musicians, their instruments are almost like limbs, so you tell me:

which arm is more important to you: the right or the left one?

Can you buy another arm that is just as good as the original?!

And, if I checked any of those items in, what would have happened if I didn't get to the Luggage Carousel in NYC quickly enough? Sometimes it can take a long time to get off the plane, if anyone in front of you gets stuck, trying to get their stuff from the overhead compartment. And, if you were seating way in the back, it takes longer... Whatever. Meanwhile, ANYONE could simply pick up anyone's luggage: one of my saxophones or a bag with my laptop, in this case, and walk out of the airport, while I'd be pleading with the airlines to find my luggage!!!!!!!!

It's been YEARS since Airport Security checked whether a person walking away with a piece of luggage from the luggage carousel is the actual owner of that luggage!!!!

Anyone can take your stuff, and worse case scenario, if they are caught, they'll  say that they are tired and made a mistake! It could be hard to prove if they actually tried to steal someone's luggage or not!!! The police would be unlikely get involved, cause they are looking for big drugs and terrorism arrests, and who cares about the musicians:)!? And the thieves would probably run away to their waiting cars before it even gets that far...

So... After that NIGHTMARE at the Los Angeles Airport, I vowed to TELL THE WORLD about this issue!!! It's been nothing but FRUSTRATION ever since!!! Everyone agrees that it's a GOOD CAUSE, and wishes me luck! My Congresswomen's Assistant even called me (ironically, it was right before the Elections), but what actually happened? -- NOTHING! I understand, everyone's very busy!!!

Al Gore is saving our planet -- a GREAT CAUSE! But I don't how much of musicians pain he can feel...

Bill Clinton, who used play saxophone, is too busy with his CAUSES! He used ot tell usus that he felt our pain:)! OK, I'll take his word for it -- he probably meant musicians too:)!?!

His wife, Hillary, is busy trying to get elected as US's First Woman President! In theory she should know something about saxophone, at least, right? '

Condoleezza Rice - with Iraq around the clock, plus other things, this US Secretary of state barely has time to jam with  Yo-Yo Ma's of this world, or whatever orther Classical Music World celebrities, who's cellos and violins could be insured in the MILLIONS of $$, and who, as a celebrities, probably travel with the entourages of assistants, flying in First Class! But, I suspect that, if Mrs. Rice were to read this, she'd probably "feel my pain" too...

President Bush celebrates Black Music Month. I hope he likes saxophones, but who knows what's on his iPod these days?

Dick Cheney? He's got iPod Two:), but then what?  

Mike Huckabee -- maybe the God Fearing Presidential Candidate, a musician, who is still occasionally playing bass guitar in his rock-and-roll band Capitol Offense..., maybe he could say a prayer for traveling saxophone players?!

Jokes aside, all those folks are busy, and probably not likely to fly coach...., never mind with saxophones...

The same probably describes a bunch of celebrities, who can easily charm their way past the airlines, and TSA Security, in exchange for some autographs, maybe..., or a copy of their CD. Call that a bribe, or just being nice! And of course, most celebrities "keep up the appearances" and fly 1st class, where the rules are looser -- hey, money talks, and that's before we start talking about big tours, where it's could be chartered flight, never mind a private plane, like a proferssional sports team! That's a whole other ball game!!!:)!

So... If, like me, you are not a celebrity, start praying, cause you could be "VIOLATED", held hostage, and parted with your horns or luggage, or even have your arm broken, like a friend of mine, Valery Ponomarev, who is a world famous Jazz trumpet player! Was he supposed to give up his trumpet, and possibly never see it again, or was he supposed to not get on the plane, and drive back to NYC, USA from Paris France?

The only difference between my case and that of Valery's was, that my NIGHTMARE was in Los Angeles, unlike his inParis, and, in theory, I could drive back home, or take a bus, or a train. Of course that can take forever, cost more $$, and, if I end up having to cancel some of my performances, because I wasn't able to fly back, and had to travel by ground -- who is gonna pay me for those?! But let's get back to MUSIC one more time!

Remember how I said that Alto, Soprano, Tenor saxophones are my own preferred tool of expression? Guess what? Do you know that if a sax player plays in a Big Band, he is expected to double on several instruments, that's how the Big Band scores, arrangements traditionally work. For example:

Alto and Tenor Sax players would be expected to play clarinet, soprano sax, flute and piccolo flute! Practically speaking, all those instruments could be spread between 3 Carry-on Items: #1 = Alto Case, #2 = Soprano Sax Case. Flute, Clarinet and maybe even a Piccolo flute can be made to fit inside the Item #3 -- a normal Carry-on bag with a laptop!

Baritone Sax players have it the worst! As if Baritone Sax size is not already too big, they are also expected to play Bass Clarinet. On most planes, the size and the weight of the instruments are not the problem. On the small commuter planes, they could let Baritone Sax players bring their Baritone Saxophone and Bass Clarinet to the actual plane, so that it's not damaged, stolen, or lost between the check in, and the plane loading! As long as there is Good Will on the part of Airport staff -- TSA Security and Airlines Staff -- it ALL could be worked out, but unfortunately, the Good Will is not always there, and it's only a matter of time, like in a game of a Russian Roulette, when one gets unlucky, and the NIGHTMARE of a musician being separated from his or her instrument will become a PAINFUL REALITY!!! And as far as the saxophones, having to travel with multiple instruments is not limited to working in a Big Band, which still means flying like the regular folks -- coach, TSA Security!


Once I heard a guitar player say: "opinions are like a certain body cavity..., everyone's got one !"...

People often mean well, and I've heard some folks offer the following advise:

Why not rent instruments at the locations where you'd be flying to? Drummers rent drums, amplifiers are being rented, lights, sound amplification systems etc., so why not rent a saxophone there too?

Well, obviously people who even suggest that for the wind instruments obviously don't even have a clue about a special relationship between the wind instrument musician and his or her instruments!!! Here is a quick explanation:

One uses his or her mouth to play a wind instrument through a thing called mouthpiece! In reeds instruments, a reed is added to that equation! It's a Life Long Continuous Process between musicians, their mouthpieces, and their instruments! Every single part of that "system" is being always fine tuned, maintained through repairs and customization! No such "system" can be duplicated, even if money and time is no object, which is not the case for most musicians! It takes years for a musician to find the right instrument, and year to customize and maintain it!

To expect one to be able to rent such a wind instrument "system" for one night or even a tour is simply not realistic!

Guitarists and bass players prefer to play their own, not rented, instruments to, even though they don't use their mouth to play those (never mind Jimmy Hendrix "strings eating" tributes...). And I am not even gonna talk about the "so called musicians" who smash their guitars and drums on the stage!!!...  OK, I am done biting my tongue....

Drummers often play rented drums on the road, but even they often bring their own cymbals or and the snare drum!

String players often play instruments that could be valued from tens of thousands of $$$ to MILLIONS!!! Those musicians won't be playing rented instruments!!!

Not all road gigs are like ROLLING STONES WORLD TOUR, with their own private planes, buses etc.

Most road gigs that require flying are small groups of musicians traveling together, or alone! Unlike Rolling Stones, or some other Big Name Act, those small groups of musicians are traveling without their own Private Security, Catering, Road Managers etc. The only thing that makes them different from the civilians is their instruments!

A musician in one of those small groups could have a Master's Degree in music (Arkady), or not, and have played around the world in front of thousands, if not millions of people, representing America's Culture, the USA itself, and thus all of us here, and yet, that musician could be VIOLATED at any airport, in the US or abroad, by a clerk who might not even have a High School Diploma, never mind speak English, or whatever language, properly!!! Now those Airport staff level of education doesn't make them bad people, but it doesn't make them right either! And again, if one is not a celebrity, or some wealthy or and powerful passenger, one can find him or herself being VIOLATED by any of those Airport people!

I don't know if educating those Airport people, or and paying them more money would solve any of the problem I have described here, but this issue needs to be addressed!

As I said in my YouTube Video titled after this very webpage, STOP TRAVELING MUSICIANS ABUSE!, "one doesn't have to be a musician to have his or her luggage stolen..."

We all value are possessions, and some things are less replaceable than others, and that's before we get into sentimental values etc.

One doesn't have to be a full time musician, or a student, or a student's parent to value his or her saxophone, or trombone, or guitar, for example! And, even if Rolling Stones, and such, all of a sudden decided to add Big Bands or Full Symphony Orchestras to their tours, that would not solve this problem for the rest of us! There are simply too many musicians out there, and they are lucky to find work, to begin with!

I don't expect the CNN and the rest of the media, politicians etc, to devote much time to this topic, cause that's not the biggest issue facing mankind! But, it would be nice to see more people adding their voices to this GOOD CAUSE!!!! Every bit helps!

You can forward my YouTube Video Link or Bookmark this web page, and forward it to your friends! Hey, how is that worse than forwarding emails with Blond Jokes, or Stupid Pet Tricks on YouTube?! 

I particularly call on my fellow musicians, those who travel with their instruments, or not, to use these web pages of mine in order to promote this CAUSE!

It's not that I am looking to get FAMOUS through this topic, but if by some miracle I did stumble into fame, I'd use it for this CAUSE for sure, among others that I have supported in the past... Hey, as good as U2's Bono is with various causes, one Bono is simply not enough, and we could use more people to speak out for this GOOD CAUSE!!! If you already know such a person, some one preferably with a name recognition, please let me know.

Unfortunately American Federation of Musicians, and all the Local Unions, like NYC's  Local 802, under it's umbrella, haven't done much with this topic!!! SOMEONE please prove me wrong about that!

I have repeatedly suggested this kind of POPULIST approach to this topic you see here: 

YouTube, websites, email campaigns, so that the Mass Media would pick this story up, and broadcast it on a slow news day!!! My thinking was and remains:

put it out there; build it and they will come!

Unfortunately, thus far I saw more excuses than action -- there were always bigger battles like:

Broadway Strike, or Union Elections, or the "Good Old Mission Impossible" -- Health Care!!!!... OK, I am done biting my tongue....

The Musician's Unions can continue to pursue their Legislative Routes, "working within the system"... They helped a former guitar player get elected as a Congressman from Upstate NY! Which reminds me of politicians saying:

"Help is on the way!!!"... But who can wait that long?!

And why does it have to be either or -- Legislative Route or a Populist Route, as you see here?

If one sax player named ARKADY, can put these web pages together, with all the content in it, then surely the real media professionals can do even more!!!

What do you think? Please let me know! But, if nothing else, at least please help me spread the word about this!

To be continued..., work in progress...

THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- ARKADY, 12/25/07, NYC, USA, Earth...

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