Cello Flight Case Rental

The Cellaire Cello Flight/Travel Case by cellist & VCello Music publisher Barbara Hedlund - updated June 2, 2016   

Barbara Hedlund’s photo of her personal Cello Travel Case with additional text adaptation

Scroll down to the bottom of this page to read articles on flying with your cello and the passenger's bill of rights.

Rent this case in Central Illinois
A foam filled Cello Travel Case can help offer increased protection against damage to the cello and contents during your next flight to an audition, festival, tour, recital, or for a relocation trip. Colleagues, I, and the California cellist/designer John Walther can attest to many satisfied users of this travel case.
I own two travel cases, one of which is my personal case.

Please note
The case is available for rent preferably to residents in Central Illinois and neighboring cities who can pick up the case from our studio. UPS & USPS shipping costs are simply too costly. If you have to pay the shipping costs to have the case sent to you, you might as well buy a seat!

We checked UPS & USPS prices back on October 17, 2007. The shipping cost then was @ $105 one way. Hence, the decision to rent only locally. After all, the  whole idea is to save you money! Come try it out first. Prospective Central Illinois renters may come to the studio to try out their case inside the travel case before committing to a rental agreement. Clients may make an appointment to pick up the case from the studio. We prefer not to ship the case outside the region.

Rental Fee
$35/week/case, plus a one time set up fee of $12, plus a refundable replacement deposit of $300 – minus any costs for damages. All payments are to be paid via cash, a US money order, or
via PayPal.Com to Cellobration Publications. Deposits are returnable upon return of the case in undamaged condition. Contact Barbara Hedlund for questions and a rental agreement or download the agreement( A Microsoft Word document) at the bottom of this page.  

Dimensions of the case
length 59 inches, circumference 88 inches, height 18 inches.  My older Jaeger and Hill case fits inside the Cellaire case. The inner dimensions of the case have some flexibility. The width at the widest part is 18.5" - 19". The inner height /length of the case inside the padding is 53". The depth inside the case with the padded cushion below and above the case is 10.5 ".

The cello in the hard case inside the travel case weighs 34 pounds. If you add soft clothes and a dampit inside the case to help pad/protect the cello during the trip, this will slightly increase the weight. But, it will not be as heavy as many suitcases.

Insurance & Liability
The renter or their agent assumes all risk and liability to their instrument, bows, hard case, and/or contents when using the travel case. As you know, the best guarantee for safety is buying a seat for your cello or driving it to the location if possible.

Loading it on the plane
The foam filled travel case (loaded with the cello in a hard case) should be hand carried to the check in counter. The case will be weighed and placed in the forward cargo bin with the animals in the over size baggage compartment. Reclaim the case in the over size baggage claim section.

Cleaning the case after your trip
Since the outer canvas cover may get soiled on a trip, the outer cover can be washed in the washer. Remove the foam pieces & shoulder strap before washing the outer cover. Use only cold water and hang it up to air dry. To prevent shrinkage and protect your deposit, do not put any part of the travel case in hot water or in the dryer. For more tips about flying and checking your cello: Read Cellist Erik Friedlander’s web site.

The original Internet Cello Society article -The Cellaire Travel Case

submitted by Cellist/Cellobration Publisher Barbara Hedlund
After reading Michael Bersin's informative article on flying with one's cello, I felt my experiences and the information in this article might be useful to other cellists. For clarification, I did not receive compensation for writing this article. I am merely sharing information with my colleagues who understand what a  costly hassle it can be to fly with a cello.

The Cellaire Case was created by cellist/MD John Walther in La Selva, CA 95076, Tel. 831-728-2787| jdwalther27@gmail.com.

The case is comprised of three pieces of thick foam core with a washable canvas covering which totally encloses the cello's hard case as an outer shell. It has a side carrying handle and a detachable shoulder strap. The weight is 14 pounds. Added to the cello in the hard case (@ 14 pounds) comes to a total weight of @34 pounds. This is less than many suitcases!

The dimensions are 59" long by 18" high with a circumference of 88". Shipment arrives via UPS in a box30 x 24 x 19. The purchase price when I bought mine was @$500.00.
(Dr. Walther informed us the case is no longer manufactured as of June 19, 2014.)

The Cellaire Case is placed on a plane in the forward cargo bin where over sized baggage is stowed and animals travel. Because of the animals, the air  temperature
in the bin is the same as in the cabin. Make sure the plane you fly on is large enough to have a forward cargo bin. Small commuter planes cannot always accommodate the Cellaire Case which means the case must then go into the baggage compartment or on another plane.

Naturally, it is ideal to travel and arrive on the same plane as your instrument. On "The Phantom of the Opera" tour, unknown to me, my cello was left on  the tarmac in Pittsburgh during a plane transfer. When arriving in Connecticut three hours before my debut performance (with no rehearsal), I had no cello. It had  not been loaded onto the connecting flight. Luckily the cello was located right away and flown in. It arrived at the theater 30 minutes before curtain - luckily avoiding a disaster. [Recently  on a recording trip to Florida, my Cellaire case was not transferred in Atlanta on time. This error delayed the recording, cost the studio more money, lost hours of worry & lost sleep, and resulted in a marathon recording session to meet the deadline.]

My introduction to the Cellaire Case was at the 1991 Cello Congress in Tempe, AZ. The late Hungarian Cellist Laszlo Varga (1924-2014) named & recommended the case. Knowing that he trusted his cello in one, I bought a Cellaire Case and have flown with it around  the US and Europe without paying additional fares until more recent years when regulations changed and oversize baggage charges ensued. To fly to the Cello Congress, I borrowed an aluminum travel case made in Canada. It was unsatisfactory for several reasons.
  1. The case, although light weight and nice looking, was not well insulated and left my cello vulnerable. The case was placed in the cargo bay under the belly of a small commuter plane for a connection to a larger plane. When I checked it upon retrieval, the cello was far too cold.
  2. The aluminum case had sharp edges which scratched  the inside upholstery & outside paint of the car when loading it.
  3. Plus, it was small enough to put on a conveyor belt thereby placing the cello in possible jeopardy.
One appealing feature was the metal case had a built in combination lock such as found on brief cases. This was nice for locking up valuables while on stage. Yet it was not enough to offset the case's negative qualities. After that experience, I was ready to investigate other models. Due to the size of the Cellaire Case, the cello must be hand carried - thus avoiding potential danger on conveyor belts. Try to learn what the limits for baggage and size restrictions are for the airline (s) you are traveling on and do not exceed them - if possible. If you do exceed them, you might have to pay an oversize baggage fee (typically charged for skis, bicycles, etc.) The cost used to be around $40 - 60 (considerably less than buying a seat). Check with the airlines for current prices. Fortunately, between 1991-2006, I did not pay an  oversize baggage fee since I flew with only one suitcase and a small carry-on item. 

Upon arriving at the airport, try to check in early and be extremely cooperative. Check in at curb side and be prepared to tip the ticket agent if necessary. A gratuity/tip sometimes helped avoid the oversize fee - or I thought it helped. Occasionally curb side check in doesn't work and you'll need to take the cello inside for handling. Having the item listed on the computer when you make your reservation can be a help. However, it could also be a hindrance because it "red flags" an over sized item which potentially makes the airline agent see dollar signs.

For overseas flights and charter trips, it is especially good to mention the case when you make your reservation. Make sure you know in advance if there will be a charge so you're not surprised at the counter and encounter delays. Having the information on the computer once saved me from an overzealous attendant at O'Hare Airport.

To prepare your cello for a trip in the Cellaire Case, secure it in the hard case, tune it down only 1/2 step, put in dampits, cover the belly with a thin cloth, and pack light clothing in all available spaces. It is especially important to place soft fabric under the fingerboard and tail piece just in case your bridge might pop off. (Luckily, it never happened to me.) Having prepared my cello in this manner, it usually arrived tuned at the same pitch as when packed and the bridge and sound post remained intact.

When traveling to or from the airport in smaller vehicles, you might have to keep the cello and Cellaire Case apart en route so it will fit into the car. (I own a mini van so this is not a problem.) Then assemble it once you arrive at the airport or your destination. Be sure to remove the carry strap before checking the cello. Once on a performance trip to Carnegie Hall, I shared a car late at night from Newark Airport into Manhattan. The couple had an infant and lots of baby paraphernalia. In order for all of us to get in the car, I unwrapped the cello, put it in the hard case in the front with the driver, put the luggage & disassembled Cellaire Case into the trunk, and the passengers sat in the back seat. That way no one had to fight over the only car, didn't have to wait for another one, nor pay a high fare into the city. Once you arrive at your destination airport, retrieve your cello in the baggage claim area at the oversize baggage area & proceed with a porter or your own carrying cart. The case is slightly bulky, but not heavy.

The canvas cover comes in a pale green color with no writing on it. For more protection, I took a permanent black laundry marker and wrote "Fragile" &
"This Side Up" on the outside cover. For extra insurance, I also drew on the case in several places -in red ink - the international fragile symbol of a wine glass. Upon arrival, you can easily disassemble the cover, store it, and carry your cello in the hard case in a normal fashion. Arriving home, wash off any grime on the outside cover in the washer using cool water Air dry it (to avoid possible shrinkage), and store it for the next trip. The pieces come apart for separate storage if needed. Our son, when younger, used to play with it sometimes as a bed, a vampire coffin, or an occasional Dachshund torture chamber.

My Cellaire case has been rented to close colleagues and students who wouldn't have been able to go to an audition if they had to purchase a second seat,or to travel to European festivals. Other travel cases can mean horror stories. One colleague’s cello was destroyed on TWA even though she was using a fiberglass Stephenson travel case. That case has to be specially made to fit the cello, is more costly, and based on her sad experience, is evidently not as secure as she believed. In addition, if you decide to change instruments, the new one might not fit the Stephenson case any more.

By using the Cellaire Case, this is not a problem. One has a hard case for the cello anyway. A normal hard case fits into the Cellaire Case because there is room for flexibility. Another advantage with the Cellaire Case is there is also a slight amount of extra air space after the cello is loaded into it where one
can pack small light articles such as umbrellas, rain coats, poster tubes, etc. Since I haven't used them, I cannot comment on using Kolstein travel cases. However, my students, colleagues, and some dealers have used them. They appear to be useful products. But, they are heavier and still have to be used upon arrival unless one packs a soft case.

There's no better guarantee than buying a seat for our cello, but that option isn't always available. If we check our instruments, they are potentially at risk. However, if this information can help someone else who is curious about travel cases, then I'm happy to be of help. Bon Voyage!

League of Orchestras Announce New Ivory Rules Support Musical Instruments  - June 2, 2016

Baggage Policies for Traveling with Musical Instruments: Allow yourself plenty of time at the airport.

Having a specialty item can require a little more time to check baggage and get through security.
(Click here to find helpful information from the TSA regarding carrying instruments through screening checkpoints.)

Final Ruling for Air Travel With Musical Instruments - Suggestion - Take a copy on the flight with you.
The Department of Transportation issued a final rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95, 49 U.S.C. §41724) regarding the carriage of musical instruments as carry-on baggage or checked baggage on commercial passenger flights operated by air carriers.

British Airway's instructions for all classes of travel    

See the US League of Orchestra's Aviation Policy Guide for More Details!

See more flight tips/info below....

Tips for flying with a cello article  | What my cello does on a plane [www.artsjournal.com]

Flying with Your Cello? Print the FAA Passenger’s Bill of Rights to carry with you when traveling with an instrument
Paul Katz's CelloBello Blog cellobello.com  

TSA - Musical Instruments - Traveling with Special Items Flight Information - You may bring musical instruments as carry-on or as ... See More

Air Travel with Instruments Video Commentary     |   Air Travel instrument Disasters

Ari's Take: Carry Your Instrument On The Plane - It's The LAW

New EU Rules Ease Travel with Instruments
from the League of Orchestras Nov 22, 2013
World Customs Organization (WCO) has announced that, effective November 21, 2013 musicians traveling through the European Union (EU) with portable musical instruments as professional equipment may use the “green” or “nothing to declare” customs channel at airports.  According to the new regulation adopted by the EU, “Total relief from import duties shall be granted for portable musical instruments temporarily imported by a traveler…with the intention of using them as professional equipment.” The WCO Secretary General has said the policy change will improve “cultural life and economic activities.” 
Read more in the League’s
Travel with Instruments resource center.

Contact the Emmy Winning “Prairie Mother"
Mrs. Barbara Hedlund - 9AM-9PM CST Daily
Music Studio - 505 Eliot Drive, Urbana, IL 61801- 6727
Tel: 217-384-0874, No FAX| E-mail: vcello1@comcast.net

Barbara Hedlund,
Nov 27, 2012, 10:24 AM