Airline Policies for Double Bass
This is a list of current airline policies regarding double basses as checked baggage. It is assumed for the purposes of this list that a double bass is checked in a standard hard-shell flight case, such as those made by David Gage or Stevenson (among many other fine brands).
This list does not include any information regarding bass guitars, EUBs, or removable-neck basses (so-called "travel" basses). Is also does not include information regarding double basses as carry-on baggage, which is generally difficult or impossible in most cases.
Airlines which have clearly written policies and hold a good reputation amongst traveling bassists are awarded the Recommended tag. Airlines with overly ambiguous policies, impossible weight and size restrictions, or outrageous/unexpected baggage fees are awarded the Not Recommended tag.
Disclaimer: The policies listed here may be out of date, incomplete, or inaccurate. Always check the terms and conditions for yourself before you fly. And remember, just because something is recommended doesn't mean you're going to have a good time.
Aeroméxico (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
No specific policies or prices for double basses are available on the Aeroméxico website. They do list a weight limit of 45 kg (99 lbs), but the linear size limit of 158 cm (62 inches) is way too small.
Air Canada (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
No specific policies or prices for double basses are available on the Air Canada website.
American Airlines Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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 Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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
Note: While it's possible to be charged both oversize and overweight for a total of $150, in practice most people are only charged $75.
Delta Airlines Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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
JetBlue Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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
Southwest Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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
United (website) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
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 (50-70 lbs): $100
-Overweight Charge (70-100 lbs): $200
-Oversize Charge (63-150 linear inches): $200
Recommended, but expect to pay $400 each way.
Virgin America Last Reviewed 18 Jan 2016
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
Volaris (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
You cannot check in if it weighs more than 99 lbs (45 kg) and measures more than 78.7 total inches (200 cm). Their Definition of "total inches" is height + width + length, which puts any double bass way over their size limit.
Note: While the website does list "basses" as something they do accept, it can be assumed they are referring to bass guitars.
LATAM Airlines (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
"If your bag exceeds the dimension restrictions of 300 lineal centimeters or 45 kilos (except flights within Brazil, where the limit is 60 kilos), you will not be able to transport it in the hold, but you may transport it with LATAM Cargo. For routes to/from Aruba, Europe, Australia, Argentina or for connections with Air Canada, Iberia, British Airways or Qantas, the maximum weight permitted per piece is 32 kilos. Before traveling, review the baggage policy of each airline to make sure you understand excess baggage fees."
Note: Pricing scheme is incredibly complicated. Weight and size limits are completely dependent on the itinerary. No mention of double basses anywhere in the policy.
Aegean Airlines (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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.
Aer Lingus (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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) Last Reviewed 18 Feb 2017
No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Pre-registration required.
Air France (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
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."
Austrian Airlines Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
No specific policies or prices for double basses are available.
British Airways (website) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
"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.
Not Recommended due to these recent changes.
Finnair (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
"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.
Warning: Nearly any bass flight case will be more than 190cm in height. This would be grounds for refusal of service as per their own policy.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (website) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
"Your musical instrument may weigh max 23 kg / 50.5 lbs in Economy Class and max 32 kg/ 70.5 lbs in Business Class. It must be packed in a hard case. An extra fee applies if your instrument is larger than 158 cm / 62 in (l + h + w) or weighs more than 23 kg (50.5 lbs) in Economy Class. If your instrument weighs more than 32 kg (70.5 lbs) or measures more than 300 cm / 79 in (l + h + w) you also need to reserve for its transportation via KLM Telephone Reservations, and receive confirmation at least 48 hours before departure."
Note: Policies and prices appear to be different depending on your itinerary. Check very carefully before booking. You will need prior approval from the airline, but the upper limit of what they will accept is not given.
Lufthansa (website) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
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. With prior approval, they allow up to 52 kg (114 lbs) and 200 cm x 75 cm.
-Within Europe/between third countries: 200 EUR or 300 USD
-Intercontinental: 300 EUR or 400 USD
Recommended, but expect to pay $300-400 each way.
Norwegian Air (website) Last Reviewed 18 Feb 2017
"Call our Contact Centre to book your double bass at least 48 hours before you fly, to make sure we've got the space. There's no size limit for double basses, but we've only got room for 2 per flight. You'll be asked to pay the musical instrument charge at the airport on your day of departure."
-All flights (excl. long haul): 33 - 52 GBP per item, each way
-International long haul: 47 - 52 GBP per item, each way
-You'll also need to pay excess baggage (9 GBP per kg) for each kilo over 20 kg.
Note: This is an excellent policy. Reasonable prices, no size limit. Pre-registration is required two days in advance, and you may be refused if there are more than two bassists on the flight.
Ryanair (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
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.
Scandinavian Airlines (aka SAS) (website) Last Reviewed 18 Feb 2017
"Certain types of special baggage that cannot be separated may weigh up to 45 kg/99 lbs., such as windsurfing boards or large musical instruments."
Within Scandinavia: €99/£75/$129
Within Europe and Israel: €140/£120/$177
Note: Pre-registration is required, but can be done online. The form offers "double bass" as an option.
Asia, Australia, and Oceania
Air New Zealand (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
"Any portable musical instrument up to one metre long counts as a standard bag, otherwise overweight or oversized charges and restrictions apply." "If your overweight bag is less than 32kg and there is space on the flight, you can pay an overweight charge at the airport. If you can’t repack your baggage item to less than 32kg, it can’t travel as checked-in baggage." "If there is room on your flight, you may be able to take your oversize bag by paying an Excess Baggage Charge at the airport. However if any of the three dimensions is more than one metre, we recommend you contact us with the length, width and height, to check it can fit on the aircraft."
Note: There is no specific mention of double basses, which leaves this policy somewhat ambiguous. A typical bass flight case will be 210 cm long, which seems to exclude itself from the "one meter long" rule. You will have to call ahead with weights and dimensions, with refusal of service seemingly likely.
- Oversize and overweight charge: $60 NZD domestic, $120 NZD to Australia, $200 NZD international
All Nippon Airways (aka ANA) (website) Last Reviewed 19 Feb 2017
"Baggage exceeding total linear dimensions 203 cm is required to contact ANA in advance." They will accept oversize up to 292 cm (115 inches) and 45 kg to most destinations. Flights to Australia, Cambodia, London, Wuhan and Brussels are limited to 32 kg.
-Oversize charge: 20,000 Yen, $200 USD or 150 EUR
-Overweight (23-32 kg) charge: 6,000 Yen, $60 USD, or 45 EUR
-Overweight (32-45 kg) charge: 20,000 Yen, $200 USD or 150 EUR
Recommended, but expect to pay at least $400 USD.
Japan Airlines (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
"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 (on domestic flights), but no price is listed and you must call well in advance. Sounds luxurious!
Qantas (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
Qantas appears to have a very convoluted pricing scheme depending on weights, boarding class, membership status, and itinerary. There is no clear written policy regarding musical instruments, and no mention of double basses. There appears to be a final weight limit of 32 kg (70 lbs), although the heavy bag charge may be significant for economy class international flights ($560 between Australia and Europe pre-paid, or $720 at check-in).
Singapore Air (website) Last Reviewed 23 Jan 2016
No specific policies or prices for double basses are available. Anything over 32 kg (70 lbs) must be shipped as cargo.
Virgin Australia (website) Last Reviewed 17 Feb 2017
"Larger musical instruments (exceeding dimensions of 85cm x 34cm x 23cm) are not allocated an additional baggage allowance and are managed as follows: A musical instrument is considered to be a piece of baggage for the purposes of our baggage policy. Any musical instrument that weighs between 23kg and 32kg is charged as overweight baggage if it exceeds the guests included baggage allowance. Baggage allowances can be found under Checked Baggage. Any musical instrument over 32kg must be sent as Freight." Maximum dimensions are defined as 300cm x 100cm x 84cm. Max weight is 32kg or 70lbs.
- Overweight fee: $70