Accord Flight Case

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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by bentuba7 »

I'm late to the party, but I'll weigh in on how awesome these cases are!

I've owned my 6/4 accord case for almost exactly 3 years now, having flown over 100,000 miles with it. After flying all those miles and coming across all of the baggage handlers, my case only has scrapes and chips in the paint in high contact areas. The wheels are still fully functioning, the handles are as good as new, and the latches are are still in great shape! When I bought the case and a match for my F tuba, I opted to have the Fiedler Backpack System installed on both cases. When traveling with two horns and a suitcase, it makes a world of difference to have this system installed. It's a secure system that provides a great amount of lumbar support and a good deal of adjustability. Even though the cases are light, it feels like you're carrying half the weight with the Fiedler system installed. I would even venture to say It's more comfortable than your standard gigbag. As far as the interior of the case goes, you cannot find a better product. The high density foam is as resilient as the day I got the case, and is most assuredly the biggest reason my tubas have come out of every flight unscathed. The cases are lined with a thin yet effective layer of foam, but the modular padding system is what makes it! You can completely customize the coverage area of your horn, making sure there's no wiggle room when the case is closed. Accord even gladly sent me some extra blocks of padding at my request. My 6/4 case weighs in at just over 15 pounds. I've never been over 50 pounds at the check in counter, and I usually pack some clothes in the bell to lighten my carry-on. A couple of months ago, when curious after a trip, I calculated that since investing in the Accord cases, I have saved over $5000 on oversized/overweight bag fees.

I have all those great things to say about my 6/4 case, but I also have a personal "life-saving" story about my accord case for my F tuba. In the summer of 2012, I was flying United from O'hare to Denver. When I picked up my F tuba in Denver, I was surprised to find a very large open ~6 inch crack in the bottom bow end of the case. I frantically opened the case, only to find my F tuba COMPLETELY undamaged. Like you said in your TubeNet post, you would have to drop these cases from a two story building to damage them. After a huge amount of inquiry, I discovered that baggage handlers at DIA literally dropped my tuba and case off of the the conveyor belt while removing it from the plane, which was a distance of 10-15 feet onto the tarmac. This is a true story, and an amazing example of the strength of these cases.

I hope this post gets a lot of people on board. Aubrey and Aaron are totally awesome for spearheading this!

Tl;dr - If you fly with tubas, even just occasionally, Accord cases should be your new best friend!

**EDIT** to perhaps clear up some skepticism on the previous page... I think the biggest cause of bell creases when using flight cases is the fact that typical flight cases in general are of the "one size fits all" variety, with slight modifications for different horns. These cases often still allow for room for the tuba to shift inside, and that is what causes the crease rather than the case flexing and not being rigid enough. While the accord cases are PLENTY rigid (very much so in the bell end) the advantage comes from the more custom fit design that keeps the horn from moving within the case, thus reducing the likelihood of bell creasing.

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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by dopey »

Aubrey Foard wrote:
roweenie wrote:If your case measures over 63" L × W × H, you WILL be charged an oversize fee by the airlines.
All I can tell you is that I've never been charged an oversize fee for an Accord case, regardless of airline flown. I'm not sure what else I can say to satisfy your skepticism?

As for the weight being under 50 lbs, the facts speak for themselves: 18 lbs (Accord flight case) + 28 lbs (6/4 tuba) = 46 lbs
I'm guessing with the miles you fly you are upper status with atleast one, if not multiple airlines? I've traveled quite a bit for work at times and in general airlines are more forgiving with 'elite' status fliers than regular fliers. I have a suitcase I could be charged oversize for and also never had an issue; the reviews of the suitcase showed mixed experiences and the conclusion was frequent fliers didn't have the issue while random non-elit people did.

Just a thought.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aubrey Foard »

Jacob Morgan wrote:
I'm guessing with the miles you fly you are upper status with atleast one, if not multiple airlines? I've traveled quite a bit for work at times and in general airlines are more forgiving with 'elite' status fliers than regular fliers. I have a suitcase I could be charged oversize for and also never had an issue; the reviews of the suitcase showed mixed experiences and the conclusion was frequent fliers didn't have the issue while random non-elit people did.

Just a thought.
I do currently have elite status, but, during the first few years of flying with the Accord cases, I did not. During my non-elite years, I still wasn't charged oversize/overweight (the rules during 2008 - 2011 with US legacy airlines were the same as they are now; the fees have just increased).

Worth noting:
United Airlines does have language in its checked baggage policy which allows for musical instruments up to 90 linear inches (L+W+H) to be checked free of charge. See more here: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content ... agile.aspx (scroll down to "Musical Instruments")

So, if you're extra-concerned about oversize charges, fly United. But, as I stated above, I've not been charged oversize fees with an Accord case, both as a non-elite and an elite flyer, regardless of airline flown.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aubrey Foard »

bloke wrote: Believing Aubrey's claim, my guess is that an agent will only glance at a manufactured case, whereas a homemade case with draw their attention and bring the word, "regulations" to the front of their brain.
I'd say that's a good possibility!
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aaron Tindall »

I consistently fly with Delta week in and out, and never have any problems with my cases being slightly over the size of a "standard" suitcase/luggage.

This is from their site: Musical instruments or equipment can be checked if the total linear dimension (length + width + height) does not exceed 115 inches (292 cm), and provided the weight, including the case, does not exceed 100 lbs. (45 kg).
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by joh_tuba »

Following Bloke's/Baadsvik's line of thoughts..

My initial measurements strongly suggest that if you removed the bell and leadpipe from a PT6 it would fit in a standard Samsonite suitcase like what Baadsvik uses. Side-benefit: greatly reduced odds of damage in transit.

It's my intention to have a local machine shop create a series of screw-bell style ferules so that it can be detached at the bottom bow and telescoped inside itself.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Tubainsauga »

If the case can actually replace both a flight case and a gig bag, the economics of the Accord case look a little better. A new Cronkhite bag and a lightweight Unitec case is going to set you back almost $1700. A few avoided overweight fees or a couple of avoided repairs and you could have saved money. Heck, not having to store a separate flight case might be worth it for those of us in small apartments.
Last edited by Tubainsauga on Sat Jan 03, 2015 9:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by bisontuba »

Hi-
Has anyone seen or tried the MTS Vault Series Cases for tubas?
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by roweenie »

I guess I just must be unlucky.....

Bloke, the airlines do not recognize "girth". Every airline that I spoke to told me the same story - if your length, width and height add up to more than 63", you will be charged an oversize fee.

Image

Image

Anyone who has ever flown on an airplane will know that the folks that work at the counter in the airport can be very unpredictable and arbitrary, and that will correspond with Bloke's theory of a manufactured vs. home-made case. Furthermore, if you are a frequent flyer (which those of you with these travel cases seem to be, such as Ben, and I am definitely NOT) you are very likely to be treated quite a bit better than I am (was). The fact that you all were not charged extra fees prior to becoming an elite flyer does not comfort me; you will not be there at the check in counter to explain that they shouldn't charge me extra. Besides, the airlines have become quite a bit more rapacious in regard to fees since you have achieved elite flyer status.
The big news is that Accord has agreed to produce a flight case that will fit 6/4 tubas. Now, it will be possible to travel around the world, taking auditions and playing in orchestras, without having to pay so much as an extra dime to check your horn!
Are you willing to back up the above statement with a guarantee? If you do, I will seriously consider getting one.

As I said before, I WANT to believe that it is possible to have a 6/4 case that will meet these airline requirements (under 63" total measurement and under 50 lbs. weight). I'm not trying to be a "fly in the ointment", but I have my experiences, and you obviously have yours.

Maybe someone (hint: Ben Darneille) who has one of these 6/4 cases can share a picture and L x W x H measurements here with the rest of us. That would go a long way toward helping me "see the light". Inquiring minds need to know......
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by roweenie »

Bump for pictures and dimensions
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aaron Tindall »

I'll post pictures and dimensions after I get mine within the next month or so.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by roweenie »

Thanks Aaron!
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aubrey Foard »

Hi Everyone,

I apologize for the delay in responding to your inquiries; both Aaron and I want to ensure that we respond to any questions in a manner that is both concise and complete.

First, we'd like to address the idea of a case that would be under the 62 linear inches size requirement for checking a bag. Such a thing is not possible with a 6/4 tuba, even if the bell were converted to a screw top. Without a bell, the body of the MW 6450 6/4 CC tuba measures 30 x 22 x 14, for a total of 66 linear inches. Add a minimum of 1 inch of padding on each side and the total becomes 72 linear inches. The body of a 6/4 Nirschl is similar, though a bit slimmer around the waste at 30 x 19 x 14. In fact, a case under 62 linear inches would not be possible for a MW 2250 F tuba with the bell removed: 32 x 18 x 10 = 60 linear inches, add an inch of padding on each side = 66 linear inches.

This is important because it shows that it is not possible to have a hard shell case for a 6/4 tuba that is not technically oversized. Of the hard shell 6/4 cases that are currently available and intended for flight protection, the Accord Case is the smallest, lightest, and strongest. What this means is that you are guaranteed to not pay overweight fees and you have an excellent chance to not pay oversize fees, all while giving your tuba the best protection money can buy. Even if you do pay oversize fees on every trip you take (highly unlikely), you will still save money over checking a larger, overweight case:

With a Unitec, Walt Johnson or MTS Vault Case:

DOMESTIC
American, United, and Delta:
$200 over 70 lbs + $200 oversize = $400 one way / $800 round trip

USA TO EUROPE
American, Delta, Air France: Over 70 lbs = not accepted
United: $400 over 70 lbs + $200 oversize = $600 one way / $1200 roundtrip
Lufthansa: $400 musical instrument over 32 kg = $400 one way / $800 roundtrip (Lufthansa will charge you either for oversize or overweight, but won't "stack" the fees)

Assuming you fly United for four domestic round trips (4 x $800) and one international trip ($1200), you will pay $4400 in oversize and overweight bag fees.

Buying a seat for your tuba:

Assuming you buy a seat for your instrument and fly four domestic round trips at an average price of $400 per extra ticket plus a $1200 round trip to Europe, you will pay $2600 in extra ticket costs.

With an Accord Case:

HIGHLY LIKELY SCENARIO (and mine and Aaron's experience thus far):
The case with tuba inside weighs under 50 lbs and the counter agent doesn't notice it's over 62 linear inches. (The Accord 4/4 case is 78 linear inches; the 6/4 is estimated to be 85 linear inches.)

Assuming you fly American for four domestic round trips and one international trip, you will pay $0 in overweight and oversize fees.

POSSIBLE SCENARIO:
The case with tuba inside weights under 50 lbs, but you get charged a fee for oversize twice: once on your way to a domestic audition and another time coming home from visiting your parents.

Assuming you fly on American for four domestic round trips and one international trip, you pay $0 in overweight and $400 in oversize fees.

WORST CASE SCENARIO (highly unlikely):
The case with tuba inside weighs under 50 lbs, but you get charged a fee for oversize every darn time you fly.

DOMESTIC

Delta, American: $0 each way overweight, $200 each way oversize = $400 roundtrip
United: $0 each way overweight, $0 each way oversize = $0 roundtrip (United does not charge an additional fee for musical instrument cases under 90 linear inches

USA TO EUROPE

American: $0 each way overweight, $150 each way oversize = $300 roundtrip
Delta: $0 each way overweight, $175 each way oversize = $350 roundtrip
United: $0 each way overweight, $0 each way oversize = $0 roundtrip (same as above)
Lufthansa, Air France: $0 each way overweight, $300 each way oversize = $600 roundtrip

Assuming you fly American for four domestic round trips (4 x $400) and one international trip ($300), you will pay $1900 in oversize and overweight bag fees.

Assuming you fly United for four domestic round trips and one international trip, you will pay $0 in oversize and overweight fees.

So, even given the worst case scenario: with an Accord Case you will save $2500 in baggage fees over an overweight case and $700 over buying a seat for your tuba. That's just in the span of one international and four domestic trips. And that's the worst case scenario - imagine the money that the case will save you over a lifetime! Oh wait, you don't have to because Ben stated it earlier: since 2011, he's saved $5000 in fees. His Accord Case has paid for itself more than twice in the past three years. (To give you an idea of what I've saved, I average 20 domestic round trips per year and I received my cases in 2008... you do the math. :wink:)

Finally, if you really want avoid any and all risk paying oversize fees with an Accord Case, fly United.

For instructions on ordering an Accord Case, please see this post

Please let me know via PM or posting here if you have any additional questions!

AF
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by roweenie »

Thanks for coming back and laying out all that info!

I don't doubt at all that your case is superior to anything else manufactured up till now. I also have no doubt that it was considerably lighter than the Walt Johnson 6/4 case (52 lbs. by itself!), and that you have a great chance of not paying overweight fees.

As someone who has been hammered by oversize fees, the phrase "once bitten, twice shy" comes to mind.

I have to agree with your well-researched logical information. Your case will definitely be a money saver, in the long run. I also think it's entirely possible that the check-in agent will not bother to take out his tape measure and measure the case, once he sees it is under 50 lbs. However, I think it's only fair to mention that the possibility does exist to be charged oversize fees, especially since the horn itself is oversize, according to airline rules.

I think that your case is an exciting and interesting development.

What is the weight of the case, without a horn in it?
Last edited by roweenie on Sat May 30, 2015 2:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Z-Tuba Dude »

I don't wish to be nit-picky, but...

In looking at the picture of the case in the OP's post, it seems to me that the case "shell" is laid out more to accommodate a right facing bell instrument.

The "contour" on the hinge side seems intuitively, to be intended for the opposite side of the tuba that actually occupies the case, in the picture.

As a result of that mismatch, the angle of the instrument makes the distance of the edges of the bell unequal from the end of the case, preventing uniform padded protection for all parts of the bell edge.

Am I crazy? (Maybe a separate issue...) :mrgreen:
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aubrey Foard »

roweenie wrote:Thanks for coming back and laying out all that info!

(...)

What is the weight of the case, without a horn in it?
You're very welcome! The case weighs, at maximum, 17 lbs. With a 28 lb MW 6450, that would come out to 45 lbs.
Z-Tuba Dude wrote:I don't wish to be nit-picky, but...

In looking at the picture of the case in the OP's post, it seems to me that the case "shell" is laid out more to accommodate a right facing bell instrument.

The "contour" on the hinge side seems intuitively, to be intended for the opposite side of the tuba that actually occupies the case, in the picture.

As a result of that mismatch, the angle of the instrument makes the distance of the edges of the bell unequal from the end of the case, preventing uniform padded protection for all parts of the bell edge.

Am I crazy? (Maybe a separate issue...) :mrgreen:
My experience has been that the bell lines up exactly with the bell cushion, regardless of the instrument in the case. You fit your bell to the cushion and then you adjust the padding around it so that the instrument fits snugly inside the shell.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by joh_tuba »

Aubrey Foard wrote: First, we'd like to address the idea of a case that would be under the 62 linear inches size requirement for checking a bag. Such a thing is not possible with a 6/4 tuba, even if the bell were converted to a screw top. Without a bell, the body of the MW 6450 6/4 CC tuba measures 30 x 22 x 14, for a total of 66 linear inches. Add a minimum of 1 inch of padding on each side and the total becomes 72 linear inches. The body of a 6/4 Nirschl is similar, though a bit slimmer around the waste at 30 x 19 x 14. In fact, a case under 62 linear inches would not be possible for a MW 2250 F tuba with the bell removed: 32 x 18 x 10 = 60 linear inches, add an inch of padding on each side = 66 linear inches.
In a previous post I suggested that the solution is to remove the bell *at* the bottom bow. IF you do that(along with the leadpipe), I am reasonably confident that even a PT6 would fit in a large Samsonite suitcase. Worst case scenario it might rest at an angle in the suitcase rather than flat.

Ironically, tall bell tubas are the ones most likely to benefit from this idea. Something like the Thor might never be small enough. You are also correct that many 6/4 tubas might never be made small enough.

I *LOVE* the idea of an accord. However, once the bell is made removable your only cost would be the actual suitcase. Long and short term I think my suggestion is more affordable and you'll be guaranteed to never deal with overweight OR oversize fees again.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aubrey Foard »

joh_tuba wrote:
In a previous post I suggested that the solution is to remove the bell *at* the bottom bow. IF you do that(along with the leadpipe), I am reasonably confident that even a PT6 would fit in a large Samsonite suitcase. Worst case scenario it might rest at an angle in the suitcase rather than flat.

Ironically, tall bell tubas are the ones most likely to benefit from this idea. Something like the Thor might never be small enough. You are also correct that many 6/4 tubas might never be made small enough.

I *LOVE* the idea of an accord. However, once the bell is made removable your only cost would be the actual suitcase. Long and short term I think my suggestion is more affordable and you'll be guaranteed to never deal with overweight OR oversize fees again.
Your idea, in theory, sounds excellent. Unfortunately, it would not work given several limitations.

First, the largest hard shell suitcase Samsonite currently has in production measures 31.5 x 22 x 12. This may indeed be wide and long enough to accommodate a 5/4 CC tuba, though virtually any tuba with piston valves would not be able to fit - with sufficient padding - inside the 12 inch height.

Second, Samsonite has discontinued its Kevlar products; the strongest material they produce to protect your assets is a polypropylene plastic material. This may indeed be quite strong, but it does not measure up to the protection granted by Kevlar.

Third, assuming a suitcase could be outfitted with the proper padding to hold a bell-less tuba, what would you do with the bell? A PT-6 has a 19" bell diameter, meaning it would not fit in a narrowbody (737, 757, Airbus 32x, MD 80, etc) aircraft's overhead bin. It could fit in a widebody (767, 777, 747, A330, A380) aircraft's window bin, but, with extremely few exceptions, those aircraft are used exclusively for international travel. Furthermore, a 19" bell would not fit under the seat in front of you. It might be possible to check the bell, but you would then have a technically oversize case: the bell of a MW 2250 F tuba is 17.3 inches and the bell down to the bottom bow is 25 inches. Add an inch of padding on all sides and your final dimensions are 19.3 x 19.3 x 27, or 65.6 linear inches. In order to check it, I'm assuming you'd need to custom design the bell case and you'd probably want to use Kevlar or a comparable material in order to guarantee the bell's protection.

The bottom line is that the Accord Case is simply the best option: it is designed specifically for the tuba, uses the strongest material currently available, and is the lightest and smallest tuba flight case on the market.

Please see my previous posts upthread for more information. For instructions on ordering an Accord Case, please see this post.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by Aaron Tindall »

I agree with everything that Aubrey has mentioned above. We have spent the time to measure all of the different type of flight case scenarios out, and go through each and every airlines "restrictions" for outer dimensions. Even before I gained elite flier status, whenever I traveled with one or two tubas in an Accord case I was never charged for oversize or overweight fees.

This is a GREAT investment for those of you who fly with 5/4 and 6/4 tubas.
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Re: Accord Flight Case

Post by tubajoe »

Hi folks... sorry took me a little while to get this here...!

I’m glad that this is happening… it’s taken some time, but I’m glad we’ve all been able to prove that there is demand for these cases! Thanks to Aaron and Aubrey and everyone else…

A bit of back story… back in 2011, I decided to upgrade my case… I spoke to many case companies, did quite a bit of research — ended up deciding that *no* tuba case manufacturers had the right professional solution. I ended up moving on to hi-end manufacturers of cases for string instruments which seemed to be generations ahead technologically, and I stumbled across Accord. They actually listed a tuba case in their catalog, but a bit later realized that at the time they had only made a few of these and the concept was still in development.

My needs are a bit more extensive than many, my case gets dragged around constantly in a zillion different contexts. It’s beyond just flying... It's a matter of going from planes to trains to cabs to vans, even to boats…. I need something that fits in normal vehicles, is carryable on my back, is under weight regulations for the airport (as my tuba only weighs 18 pounds without a case). Every USA-made/designed case seemed to be military grade… with a “hum-vee” type of approach. This was unacceptable for my needs.

I live in NYC and play the tuba full-time, so I need a hard case which is also a daily gigbag replacement. My tuba is constantly dealing with subway turnstiles, taxicab trunks, sound guys at clubs, swimming through drunk crowds etc etc…on a daily basis.

So, a gigbag replacement... which would also work as a flight case. Too much to ask? Cello players were able to have this... so that's the direction I went.

Fortunately, Accord was interested in developing this further, so we worked together and went through two generations of the case through a fair amount of trial. They were fantastic to deal with.

The first case I got from Accord was an absolute godsend. It was the answer to these exact problems. But… it still had some construction issues. The case was built using their standard stock parts from their world-famous cello cases, which weren't quite strong enough yet for an instrument that was several times the weight of a cello.

The company responded to my requests fantastically… and we worked several times to improve the design. On subsequent trips to Europe I would meet them and they upgraded my first case with better hinges and handles right away.

With some regularity I play/stay in Venice, which is not too far from Pula, Croatia where the cases are made (it is a relatively small family business). After about a year of use, I went to the factory and they closely surveyed the wear on my first case, and made a second case for me with many improvements I suggested — stronger handles, hinges, metal wheel housings, and most importantly a thicker and more rigid lid, sides and stronger lip bead too. We also redesigned and strenghtened some of the inner padding.

I’ve been using this second case for about 2.5 years… and it’s fantastic. I use it every day — I no longer use a gig bag. This is my everyday tuba case. And it gets taken everywhere.

In photos you’ll notice that I have the edges covered in gaffers tape. This is not to repair damage, this is simply a protective thing as the bell flair is where the case gets banged around the most. I simply keep gaffers tape on the parts of the case which come in contact the most. I also remove the backpack apparatus when I fly and I tape down every D-ring etc…

Now, regarding 6/4 BAT cases etc… In my talks with Accord and when I went to the factory — when they were interested in developing this program, I told them that the a key to American players were BAT cases. They had, at the time, started to look into making a 6/4 case, and at one point were making one for a European player… and said it was totally possible.

In 2013, the person who seemed to be spearheading the tuba project retired from the company, and it seemed that it may have been shelved for a while… but now it seems with our eventual community interest (pooled by Aaron and Aubrey!) that the project is continuing.

I’m thrilled that this is happening and that this case can come into the world. Professionally owning this case an incredible help. Incredible. I can't emphasize it enough.

Here are few answers to common questions:

My horn is newer ‘old’ Miraphone 186 4U CC (late 1970’s/very early 1980's). It weighs about 18lbs out of the case and about 40 in the case. (version one was 38lbs, it went up to 40 for version two which is a bit thicker) It’s far under the usual weight limit of 50lbs. I usually don’t get hassled about linear inches.

It fits into the trunk of a standard US taxicab (Crown Vic or Town Car) but does not aways fit into the trunk of a small Honda hybrid cab, when then it sits in the back seat on my lap. In the back of minivans it can even fit standing upright. Many European cabs are often BMWs or Mercedes which usually have no problem (German engineering fitting a tuba, go figure!). On trains it usually fits into the luggage racks. Conductors rarely hassle me.

A general note while flying: SCHEDULE LONGER LAYOVERS. On layovers less than, say, 90 minutes, the tuba will get left for a later flight (especially in England) As a rule for me, I insist on layovers of 2-3 hours to ensure good tuba transfer. I also leave detailed instructions and a photo inside the case to insure proper handling.

Some photos for your case-perusing enjoyment:
case-carnegie.jpg
case-walking.jpg
case-sanmarco.jpg
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