Airline drops extra fees for large instruments

Airline drops extra fees for large instruments


norman lebrecht

June 04, 2019

It appears that American Airlines has dropped its excess baggage charge for checked-in musical instruments.

You used to have to pay $150 for a tuba or a doublebass.

Now, it’s free.

(No guarantee, of course, that it will arrive in one piece.)


  • Mr.Knowitall says:

    Not so sure about the double bass being free. A bass in a hard flight case usually exceeds the weight that airlines are willing to accept at all. That’s in contrast to, say, a tuba or bass saxophone, which they would accept for an over-weight charge (now apparently free at American).

    • Susan Bradley says:

      I’ve handled both. A double bass in a modern flight case is much lighter than my orchestral tuba in a flight case, which is 31.9 kg.The bass is bulkier and more awkward, but not as heavy.

      • Mr.Knowitall says:

        It’s true that bass cases are getting lighter. The older David Gage (the best known bass-case supplier) cases are 31 kilos empty. A bass weighs about 10 kilos. The total of 41 kilos is over most airlines’ limit. His newer case is 27 kilos, with bass 37 kilos, still overweight. He also makes a “feather weight” case at 22 kilos, for a 32 kilo total. That might be accepted.

  • Robert von Bahr says:

    Isn’t it just a tad hard on AA, which company now finally is doing something good for musicians, that last sentence? Why take away from the good they’re doing with a sneer like that? There is no guarantee with any airline that things don’t get damaged, paid passage or not, so why single out AA here?

  • Nathaniel Rosen says:

    A double flight case (like a Matryoshka Russian doll) is the way I check my cello into the baggage compartment and there is never a problem. The whole thing weighs 12 kilograms and I am so happy to walk through security unencumbered. (I travel with a modern instrument.)