Double bass blogger Cyndy sent me a link to a recent post of hers that features truly horrifying treatment of a double bass by a baggage handler. She was fortunate to capture this double bass beating on video–who knows how many times this kind of abuse happens with no documentation whatsoever.
In the video, this baggage handler character yanks her bass off the conveyor belt, tosses it extremely roughly bridge side down into the baggage cart, banging it against the wall a few extra times for good measure, and then proceeds to pitch bags against the trunk. Watch and see how the case bounces around as the bags bang against it.
They hold all the cards
Cyndy is actually quite sympathetic to the baggage handler in her post, noting that a 100 lb. bass case is the last thing in the world that this guy probably wants to see at the end of the day, and noting that her bass wasn’t harmed at all from this incident. She should be a sponsor for her bass trunk company (I can’t tell from the video whether it’s an SBS bass case or a Gage case… or some other model I don’t know about), and that company should use this video on their website as a testimonial to its durability!
To me, this kind of treatment of a bass is completely inexcusable, and this guy should be fired for handling fragile items that we have paid extra to ship ($320 or more in excess fees round-trip for many airlines).
Think about it:
- -we have to fly as double bassists
- -we have to bring our instruments
- -“they” hold all the cards
- -“they” can charge what the want
- -“they” provide no promise of safe handling
- -we have virtually no recourse when this sort of thing happens
- -it’s getting worse, not better
I’ve dealt with this garbage as well
I had something similar happen to me at Midway Airport in Chicago. These baggage handlers can ruin our livelihood and do so on a daily basis to double bassists (and other instrumentalists) with no compunction whatsoever. The American Federation of Musicians continually promises to “improve” the situation. Doesn’t look like much improvement to me, eh? At least she got the “privilege” of getting on the plane–some bassists are being turned away at the gate.
This situation is ridiculous. Solutions, anyone? Driving, I suppose, though that only works for certain locations, and $4.00+ gas makes that prospect even less appetizing than it was before. How will this rapidly declining situation affect auditioning, summer festivals, touring, and other sorts of musical travel?
We’re musicians–we have to travel. That’s what the vast majority of us do. Even after paying hundreds of extra dollars to get our instrument on the plane, having to open it up for inspection, and being subjected to intense scrutiny and suspicion, we have to deal with this? What if we complained? We’d be hauled off and detained. Thanks, airlines! Police states are great!
Rabbath on airline travel
When I interviewed François Rabbath on Contrabass Conversations, he lamented the plight of bassists and how these airline workers can destroy our livelihood without a second thought. Here’s a link to the particular segment where Rabbath talks about airline travel. It’s definitely worth a listen: