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Flying with an upright bass

Flying with your upright bass can sometimes be a frustrating (if not stressful) event, but it doesn't have to be.  The airlines have come to realize that bass players still need to be able to fly with their bass and have gone from undocumented disasters (of leaving it up to the ticket counter people) to super restrictive travel, and now back to more acceptable rules and regulations of flying with a bass.

In most cases, the bass should be only considered "over-sized" especially when flying with the new Tuff-Lite Pro upright bass case.  Minimize your weight whenever possible:

  • take off the endpin and put it in your suitcase (some of these endpins can weigh 2-3 lbs)

  • hand carry the bow and bow case

  • if you need to have a cover at your destination (as most people do), pack your cover in a cheap duffle bag separately

Even with a heavier case, you can pretty well find ways to reduce the overall weight.

How to present yourself (with the upright bass at the airport):

While some these ideas would normally be obvious to most, it's still important to list and consider.  Flying with an upright bass can be stressful.  Keep this in mind and remind yourself that you will be stressed.  Be thoughtful to the counter agents.  Always smile and be respectful.  Yes, I know, we learned this in kindergarten, but you'd be surprised how many people end up paying more for their upright bass, when they are needlessly rude or short with the airline agents.  They are not used to people showing up with these (double basses) as well.  Remind the agent that you are a professional (or very serious about your bass.)  Be engaging and conversational.  I know we get tired of people asking about our "big guitar" case, but don't be afraid to tell the airline person where you're going, whom you play with or what event it is you're flying to and calmly tell them that you "fly all the time" with your upright bass.

I know that no one likes dressing up when traveling.  I think it was jazz bassist Keter Betts that wrote an article and said that he would always dress up and wear a tie.  I know we hate to admit it, but looking good helps gain trust and respect. Look presentable for sure.

If you have a case that locks, make sure it is not locked.  If the TSA cannot gain entry to your bass case, they will leave it at the airport and not load it on the plane. A big shock when you arrive at your destination city to say the least!

Special News:  We have received the new lightweight flight cases by Tuff-Lite.  They are the lightest, most durable and most protective bass flight cases in the world.  Their biggest, heaviest case (the Pro) only weighs around 53 lbs, yet will fit the largest sized basses.