Turkish Airlines smashed my bass

Turkish Airlines smashed my bass


norman lebrecht

February 12, 2020

From the Croatian musician Tihomir Hojsak:

Thank you Turkish Airlines for taking such a great care for my double bass. You have done irrecoverable and non refundable damage. I was forced to sign a document at Washington Dulles Airport in which you gave up any responsibility for any kind of damage or loss of my double bass. You have also charged me $195 for oversize baggage although your website clearly says: “…We transport your large instruments like contrabass in the aircraft hold as checked baggage…The instruments you delivered during check-in are not loaded onto the conveyor belt, and we take special care to transport them safely.” During my tranfser at Istanbul I have witnessed along with the other passangers how you throwed it from approximately 4m of height into the truck.


I want to warn all my friends musicians around the world to boycot Turkish Airlines because they treat artists like rubbish. How they handled instrument is seen from the pictures. At the Zagreb airport I was told that I have no right to file a claim due to earlier signed document in Washington. Unfortunately, airlines don’t care about customers, and often treat artists like criminals saying that they are just doing their job. Well, how are we supposed to do our job?

Please share.



  • Brian v says:

    Better to travel with a good airline such as Lufthansa British Airways el al

    But they are more expensive

    Brian 1

    • Mr. Knowitall says:

      Are you really suggesting that British Air would be better? It’s a nightmare for musicians. I’ve had good luck with Turkish Airlines. They say that guitars and instruments smaller than guitars should (not can) be carried on rather than checked. And with me that’s exactly what has happened.

    • Paul Carlile says:

      Definitely not! BriShit Hairwaves.. one of the worst, lost my baggage from China, sent it all around Africa, charged me for the privilege; Luftwanka, lost all my party’s baggage TelAviv-Frankfart, had to buy new clothes…never re-imboursed. Pay more: just as bad!

    • Dr. Z says:

      It would make no difference in most cases as baggage handlers are usually airport contractors and are not employed by the airline. This makes it extremely frustrating to assign responsibility, of course, which I am sure the airlines love.

  • Ben G. says:

    Yet another broken bass story in the span of 2 days. The pictures of this one look scarier than yesterday’s.

    Must bassists play with musicians that are only a 100 km away by car? That’s a choice we have to make but it’s not the solution.

    If we take the train to travel even further distances, will we not be fined for oversized baggage? Yes we will– The French train company SNCF did this to a bass player just 5 days ago and fined him 50€ more for “improper use of space or luggage space”.

    Nevertheless, there are solutions for bassists who still insist on taking the plane, but unfortunately they are non artistic. Either rent one in advance like you would with a car, or purchase one of many “imitation” basses on the market- i.e: those that can be taken apart. The money you spend for one of these will always be less than the repairs you’ll spend in repairs for an expensive instrument.

    There is also the possiblity of finding a half size bass which can of course be amplified if need be.

    Check out my story in yesterday’s link:


  • Gokce says:

    Yeah Norman – good on you. Shame on this article , and the airline destroying an instrument. But I have read a similar thing yesterday on my facebook feed about United Airlines – have you also written about that?
    Because it is Turkish and you hate us, you write about this one.
    I am sorry for the bass player who had to go through this horrible thing.
    Whether its Turkish or not it does not matter. This happens with all airlines but apparently we make the news.

    • norman lebrecht says:

      Search Slipped Disc and you’ll find that we have reported such things on at least a dozen airlines, starting with United, BA, Ryanair, you name it. We’re neutral on Turkey. Don’t give a flying duck one way or other.

    • V.Lind says:

      This is nonsense. Broken instrument stories are a frequent item in these pages. They are sourced by the travelling musician who has been inconvenienced, or worse, and are presented usually as cautions to other musicians who may be travelling with those airlines.

      As here, they may be countered by people with different experiences of the line in question, or a recounting of similar experiences with other lines. Very few airlines have gone unreported here, though I believe Cathay Pacific is still blameless! (In fact, whether because they are wonderful or because few Asians read SD, I can’t think of any Asian airlines that have been fingered so far — long may it stay so!).

      This is the first time Turkish airlines have been mentioned. Unlike BA, most American lines and several others who are frequently on the firing line. Please do not go looking for a chance to join the International League of the Victimised. It’s not a good gang to get involved with.

  • Tom says:

    ahh yes,
    I remember flying with my 100 year old german bass worth about $30,000

    I thought I’d have a heart attack on the flight worrying, But when you got to audition what can you do?

    Horryifing picture, they broke the bass in the worst possible location (underneath bridge at the sound post spot).

  • Kolb Slaw says:

    Such documents are not always enforcable. Take them to court.

  • Margaret Bailey says:

    I’m not a string player, so I apologize if this seems to be an ignorant question. Are the cases damaged when this happens? And is there a way to build a reinforced case for shipping?