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Airline Restrictions Master List

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by MaxJohnson, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. MaxJohnson


    Jan 29, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey folks! I'm doing a lot of flying this year, and am checking my Kent McLagan bass (w/ removable neck) into a Lemur flyaway case and floating all around the country. So I compiled this list to know what each airline says about their baggage allowances and musical instruments. Please feel free to add corrections, or add information from other airlines, or experiences/nightmares of flying.

    American Airlines:
    Your musical instrument can also be checked as baggage. The maximum size for checked baggage, including instruments, is 150 inches (381 cm), and the maximum weight is 165 lbs. (75 kg).
    -Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $100
    -Oversize Charge (63-115 linear inches): $200

    Alaska Air:
    We will accept musical instruments as checked baggage provide each piece is properly packed in a soft or hard sided case designed specifically for the musical equipment piece. If your travel includes multiple airlines, other restrictions may apply. Each checked musical instrument is subject to the checked baggage service charge and overweight/oversize fees described below. On Alaska Airlines flight series 1-999 the maximum combined linear dimensions of a checked musical instrument may not exceed 150 inches (length + height + width). On Alaska Airlines flight series 2000-2999 and 3420-3499 the maximum combined linear dimensions may not exceed 115 inches (length + height + width).
    -Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $75
    -Oversize Charge (63-115 linear inches): $75

    Delta Airlines
    Musical instruments or equipment can be checked if the total linear dimension (length + width + height) does not exceed 150 inches (381 cm), and provided the weight, including the case, does not exceed 165lbs (75 kg). See standard rules and fees for overweight and oversized baggage.
    -Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $100
    -Oversize Charge (63-150 linear inches): $200


    A musical instrument will count as one piece of checked baggage. There are no additional fees for musical instruments as long as they do not exceed 150 linear inches or 165 pounds (75 kg) or the applicable size or weight restrictions for the aircraft(overweight, oversize and excess baggage fees will apply). JetBlue accepts no liability for damage to musical instruments. We suggest packing them in a hard-sided container designed for travel.
    -Standard Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $100
    -Standard Charge (63-150 linear inches): $100

    Some musical instruments (e.g. double bass, cello, etc.) cannot be secured in a seat and must be transported as checked baggage. Oversize or overweight charges will apply if the instrument is between 62-150 inches in size (outside length plus width plus height including case or covering) or if the instrument weighs between 51-165 pounds (including case or covering).
    -Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $75
    -Oversize Charge (63-115 linear inches): $75

    An instrument should be packed in a hard-shell case to keep it protected during normal handling. Excess checked baggage service charges may apply if the customer is checking more than two items. Oversize charges apply to musical instruments that measure 63 - 115 linear inches. Overweight charges apply to musical instruments that are over 50 pounds, but musical instruments weighing up to 165 pounds will be accepted. If the instrument is over 115 linear inches, please contact the United Customer Contact Center.
    -Overweight Charge (more than 50 lbs): $100
    -Oversize Charge (63-150 linear inches): $200

    Virgin America
    If it exceeds the hand baggage allowance measurements, you’ll need to check it in (and pay an additional baggage fee, if it takes you over your check in allowance). However, rather than checking it in on the spot we’ll still ask you to carry it through to the airport security checkpoint (subject to relevant Airport Security approval). As instruments are especially fragile, this ensures safer carriage. It will be taken at the departure gate for loading into the hold of the aircraft, so please make sure it’s suitably protected when you pack it. The upper limit for oversized luggage is an ample (75 x 29.5 x 25.5in)
    -Overweight Charge (23-32 kg): $60
    -Oversize Charge (more than 63 linear inches): $60
    chapito, RSBBass, sonix and 8 others like this.
  2. Jake deVilliers

    Jake deVilliers Commercial User

    May 24, 2006
    Crescent Beach, BC
    Owner of The Bass Spa, String Repairman at Long & McQuade Vancouver
    That's great, Max. Now we need you to add British Airways, etc. :cool:
  3. erniepro

    erniepro Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Honolulu HI
    This is great , thanks. One probable or possible correction.:
    Summer 2014 I flew with bass in Gage trunk from Honolulu ( headed to NYC) with ten day stop in Portland Oregon. United Air, charges as outlined above.
    But.....when I checked in again in Portland for NYC the United people would not let me check in my bass because they said under no circumstances can a checked musical instrument weigh over 75 lb , and mine was about 90 lb in trunk.They said I should not have been allowed to do so in Honolulu.
    They sent me on a Delta flight , same charges as above, Delta does take a greater weight.
    Maybe these numbers have changed since then?
    In any case it was so difficult and expensive, surely removable neck is the best (in my view- only way) if one is doing any extensive touring. I sold my trunk down at Gage shop shortly after arriving in NY as I am not traveling enough to warrant all that.
    It is great to have this info posted as a resource for those
  4. erniepro

    erniepro Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2007
    Honolulu HI
    Oh, it used to be easier of course then presently. This is the first time I was not allowed to check it at all. I did fly with bass in trunk, 4 for 6 times annually , in the past.
  5. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    They have, in fact, changed their policies since then. As of 2015, they are now in compliance with FAA and DOT regulations stating all US carriers must accept any musical instrument as checked baggage up to 165 pounds.
    robinunit likes this.
  6. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    This information should be posted on the TalkBass wiki.

    I'll add some European and other foreign carriers, since that's what I'm normally dealing with. US carriers have had to add specific language to their contracts of carriage to be FAA-compliant, but no such luck for us on the other side of the Atlantic. Speaking anecdotally, it's best to avoid the budget airlines entirely.

    Aegean Airlines (website)
    "You may transport your musical instrument on any of our flights, provided it is in a secure hard case. Instruments may be transported either as checked baggage or carried with you in the cabin. If carried as checked baggage in the hold, instruments are subject to the baggage policy. In addition, you will be asked to sign a Limited Release Form when you check in the instrument agreeing that the musical instrument is being carried entirely at your own risk."
    Note: This policy is crazy town. No clear policy regarding size, weight, or price. And you have to sign away all rights. Not recommended.

    Aer Lingus (website)
    "Larger musical equipment (including but not limited to double bass, harps and drums) is unsuitable for carriage in the cabin and must be checked in. If you wish to carry the instrument in the hold, then a special handling fee will apply. This fee will be charged at the same rate as golf equipment and skis. Normal excess baggage rates will also apply."
    Note: Despite what appears to be clear language, it's difficult to find the price or any weight/size restrictions.

    Air Berlin (website)
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Pre-registration required, likely to be refused. Not recommended.

    Air Canada (website)
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available on the Air Canada website. Not recommended.

    Air France (website)
    "Musical instruments over 32 kg (70 lb) in weight or 300 cm (118 in) in length (cello, bass, etc.) are accepted in the hold, with prior approval from our customer service department. You must submit your request at least 48 hours before your flight's departure."
    - Price not specified, but expect to pay between 70 and 140 EUR.

    Air Serbia (website)
    "Exceptionally, and with prior Air Serbia approval, an individual piece of baggage weighing more than 32 kg and/or with the sum of dimensions greater than 203 cm can be accepted as checked baggage if it contains a musical instrument, sports equipment or a wheelchair."
    - Within Europe: 110 EUR
    - Intercontinental: 200 EUR
    Note: This information is under the "Excess Baggage" information, but not under the "Musical Instruments" section. Go figure.

    Alitalia (website)
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. "If you choose to or need to transport instruments in the hold, you must inform the Customer Center 48 hours before departure." Not recommended.

    Austrian Airlines
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Not recommended.

    British Airways (website)
    "Musical instruments which are too large to be carried in the cabin, will be checked in. This will be part of your checked baggage allowance so excess baggage charges may apply.
    Larger instruments can be carried as part of your free checked baggage allowance or as part of an additional purchased allowance if required. We'll even carry instruments larger and heavier than the standard checked baggage limits, up to 45kg (99lb) and 190cm x 75cm x 65cm (75in x 29.5in x 25.5in), providing you notify us at least 24 hours before your flight. Instruments over 23kg may incur a heavy bag charge."
    Note: No price is listed on the website. You MUST call at least 24 hours in advance for approval.
    Warning: Gate agents being particularly prickly about the size restrictions will leave you grounded. Most basses are about 190 cm (75 inches) tall, naked. A typical flight case will be closer to 210 cm tall.

    Finnair (website)
    "Larger musical instruments up to 32 kg and/or 190 cm x 75 cm x 65 cm can be carried for an additional heavy bag charge. Large musical instruments exceeding these measures (32 kg and/or 190 cm x 75 cm x 65 cm) may be accepted with a prior approval from the airline."
    Note: Price not entirely clear on the website, but appears to be a normal "heavy bag charge". That would be 30 EUR within Europe and 100 EUR intercontinental.

    Iberia (website)
    "The maximum permitted measurements are 190x75x65cm with a maximum weight of 45kg (99 lbs). If the weight is 23 Kg to 32Kg an excess weight surcharge will apply. If the weight is 32 Kg to 45 Kg, it will always be considered excess baggage."
    Note: It's difficult to find an exact price online, but looks like something like 90 EUR within Europe.

    Japan Airlines (website)
    "JAL has large cases for musical instruments such as double basses and bass fiddles available for passenger use. Reservations are required 48 hours before scheduled departure. Contact us for assistance in reserving a large musical instrument case. However, please note that the numbers are limited, and may not be able to correspond to your request."
    -Japan Airlines will actually provide you their own hardshell case, but no price is listed and you must call well in advance. Sounds luxurious!

    KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (website)
    Policies and prices appear to be vastly different depending on your itinerary. Check very carefully before booking.

    Lufthansa (website)
    Musical instruments (e.g. any type of bass instrument (double-bass, violone, viola da Gamba)) which weigh more than 32 kg (70 lbs) may only be taken on Lufthansa flights after registration and approval.
    -Within Europe/between third countries: up to 52 kg (114 lbs) and 200 cm x 75 cm. 200 EUR or 300 USD
    -Intercontinental: up to 52 kg and 200 cm x 75 cm. 300 EUR or 400 USD

    Ryanair (website)
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Website states musical instruments up to 20 kg (44 lbs) will be accepted for 60€, but that does not account for oversize instruments. Not recommended.

    Singapore Air (website)
    No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Anything over 32 kg (70 lbs) must be shipped as cargo. Not recommended.
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
    Tom Lane likes this.
  7. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    Ok, I give up.

    Just a note about British Airways in particular. They used to have a great reputation with bassists. I flew my bass with them a few years ago for just $50. No hassle about the weight, size, or anything. Unfortunately, they made a slight change in the wording of their policy last year which effectively eliminates the possibility to fly with them without lying through your teeth and hoping the gate agent doesn't notice.

    The old version said "We'll even carry instruments larger and heavier than the standard checked baggage limits, including double basses." The new version removed the words "double basses" and replaced them with specific weights and dimensions which are slightly smaller than any bass case I'm aware of.
  8. basic74


    Dec 28, 2012
    thanks everybody for this!!!
    a friend used to fly air berlin with his 30kg (bass + case) instrument, he had a "member card" (or whatever they called it) for 100€ a year, with this he could check the bass on any air berlin flight without overcharges. not sure if this option still exists.
  9. Jon Mush

    Jon Mush

    Jun 3, 2015
    Winnipeg, MB
    I had a flight booked with Air Canada (in 2014, I believe), and went through all the motions and phoned prior to get information. I was instructed that the bass in its trunk was too large to be considered baggage and would have to be shipped Air Canada Cargo.

    The prices I got were over $800 (one way, Winnipeg to Toronto), and they couldn't guarantee that my bass would arrive the same day I did. Definitely not recommended.

    I used the same trunk with Westjet, and was always permitted to fly with it. I was only charged oversize about 30% of the time. It really depended on the gate agent.

    It was a custom case that only weighed 50lbs with my bass in it--it was a full size case though. I just never had to deal with the weight issue. The problems and extra charges were what prompted my move to a Chadwick.
  10. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    I haven't heard about any good experiences with Air Canada and basses.

    And $800 is a very bad deal, even for cargo. For comparison, Southwest Cargo would ship a bass from Houston to Albuquerque for about $200 back in 2010.
  11. Can we break this down into simple, practical terms?

    For instance, under the post-2015 regulations, is it possible to fly a bass in a Kolstein trunk on Southwest for $150 each way as per the OP?

    I ask because friends who tour internationally tell me that their experiences have not been that easy. Even with copies of the Federal rules and the airline's publicly stated policies in hand, I am told that traveling bassists should be prepared to arrive at the terminal hours early and argue fiercely with airline staff in order to get their bass on the plane with them.

    SSDD, in other words.
  12. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    Well, the FAA guidelines aren't super interesting to the gate agents. The agent's job is to follow their airline's own contract of carriage, and the policy is supposed to reflect the FAA guidelines. Most US carriers updated their policies last year to meet the new guidelines, but gate agents don't necessarily know that. Of course it doesn't hurt to carry those in hand, but it likely won't change their minds. The airline's contract of carriage is more useful, but those same contracts clearly state the airline can refuse any bag for any reason. In the end, it's the agent's decision. The amount they charge is also up to them, in the end.

    Here are a few things you can do to help yourself:
    - Check the airline's posted policies before booking a ticket. If their policies do not specifically mention either double basses, or give weight/measurement restrictions your bass will fit to, call the airline directly for clarification.

    - After booking a ticket, call the airline to notify them your intention to check a double bass. Have the weight and measurements handy. Don't lie.

    - If the agent on the phone says you can take the instrument, kindly ask them to make a note of it in your itinerary. If you can get a price quote, ask them to put that in as well (unless you think you can get a better price at the counter, which is unlikely). A gate agent is far less likely to have a problem with you if the itinerary has a note saying it's ok -- after all, they can blame any potential problems on the phone agent.

    - Arrive as early as possible, in case you need extra time to check in. You'll have an easier time remaining calm if you know there's lots of time to resolve any issues.

    - At the counter, wheel your bass up on its side. If it's standing tall, it looks less likely to fit.

    - Be as friendly as you can with the gate agent. The final decision as to whether they accept it or not is entirely up to them. If they don't like you, they won't help you.

    - If the gate agent refuses service, remain calm and friendly. Do not leave the counter. At this point, having printouts of the FAA regulations and the airline's policies would be helpful.

    - Finally, you can ask to speak with management or any other airline representative to resolve the matter. Stay calm, friendly and positive. Let the gate agent know you don't want to further disrupt the line, you understand they're doing their jobs and you're not upset, but that you require additional services.

    - Stay calm!
  13. ReiPsaeg


    Dec 1, 2012
    Rochester, NY
    Wow, thank you so much. This definitely deserves a sticky.
    Jake deVilliers likes this.
  14. twinjet

    twinjet Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Here's one for Sun Country (suncountry.com)

    Musicians may carry-on one (1) smaller-sized instrument case as long as:
    • The instrument case fits easily in the Sun Country sizer box, or there is room to stow the instrument in an overhead bin or under the seat in front of the passenger. If instruments cannot be properly stowed, they must be checked as baggage.
    For larger instruments (cellos, tubas, guitars, etc.) that cannot be stowed overhead or beneath a seat, musicians may choose to purchase a seat for the instrument:
    • The instrument must be in a case or covered to prevent injury to passengers.
    • Must not exceed 100 pounds
    • Must be secured properly in a seat directly behind a full bulkhead divider. Not all Sun Country aircraft are equipped.
    • The case must NOT contain a prohibited item.
    Checked as luggage:
    • Checked instruments are subject to Sun Country baggage rules and fees
    • Due to the fragile nature of musical instruments, instruments are checked as limited liability items

    From our friends at Westjet (Travelling with special items with WestJet).

    Musical instruments: Although seats may not be purchased for instruments, we will accept small instruments as part of the carry-on baggage allowance. Exceptions may be made for irregular-sized instruments. All instruments must be stowed in the overhead compartment, under the seat or in other approved locations. This is left to the discretion of the cabin crew and Customer Service Agent upon checking flight and baggage loads. Instruments may also be accepted in checked baggage when they are properly packed. Applicable excess baggage fees will apply.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
  15. dkimbrobass


    Jul 16, 2011
    Knoxville, TN
    This is great folks. A huge thank you to all who've posted in the thread. DK
  16. labravajazz

    labravajazz Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2006
    Sydney Australia
    Just wondering if you have any feedback about using the Lemur fly away case ie about the case itself?
  17. MaxJohnson


    Jan 29, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    I've done 4 flights with the Lemur in the last month or so, and it's gone great so far. I have to throw my hat in with JetBlue who if you need to check a removable neck instrument, as long as it's under 150 inches in size or 165 pounds, they don't charge you extra to check it out. CAUTION: The ticketing agent probably doesn't know the policy, so it would help to bring up their musical instrument policy on your phone just in case. I had to explain it to the fine folks in Burlington recently, but they looked it up and huzzah, no extra fees.
  18. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Still want to read the fine print!!!!!!!

    The airlines will transport ANY instrument but their disclaimer dealing with luggage/type is VERY CLEAR.
    The airlines will take no financial responsibility beyond a certain $ amount and some offer none if it is a musical instrument.
    There is a reason people buy a ticket for their instrument.
  19. PaulCannon


    Jan 24, 2002
    Frankfurt, Germany
    NS Design Endorsing Artist
    Is this a surprise? Of course it doesn't seem like the friendliest policy, but why should they take responsibility for a very fragile, potentially very expensive instrument? They can't confirm if it's packed correctly. They can't confirm that TSA handled it properly. They can't even confirm if it was damaged prior to being checked. When you're talking about something potentially worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, it would be much easier to simply refuse service altogether.

    One very big reason why traveling with instruments has gotten more difficult is because some of you guys choose to fly your basses without insurance. The airlines end up getting publicly humiliated and sued for large sums of money because you didn't have any other way to pay for the damages. Of course there are times when it's obviously the airline's fault (missing baggage, completely smashed cases, etc.), but sometimes you just didn't pack it correctly. There are a hundred things that can go wrong when you fly your bass, and only some of those things can be clearly traced to the airline's negligence.

    Fly with insurance, or don't fly at all. The airline might pay for damages, but it's awfully silly to assume so.
    Monte likes this.
  20. Photobassist


    Dec 18, 2010
    The update of this thread is quite timely since I'll be flying down to Okinawa tomorrow for a little relaxation time with the family.

    Although I'll be stowing my Wing Bass under the seat in front of me, here is ANA's restrictions on musical instruments...

    "A musical instrument or one piece of sports equipment will be considered as one piece of checked baggage.
    If the baggage excesses the free baggage allowance, it will be subject to the applicable excess baggage charge. Please click here for excess baggage charge table.
    Even if your bulky baggage such as musical instrument or sports equipment is within the free baggage allowance, your baggage may not be accepted for airport facility condition or aircraft type.
    Please contact ANA International Reservation and Information Center in advance.

  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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