Melbourne Muso Crushed After Qantas Destroy Prized Instrument

22 January 2024 | 2:21 pm | Ellie Robinson

Mark Elton said his double bass was “like an actual family member to me”.

Mark Elton

Mark Elton (Facebook)

Another casualty has been claimed in the war between artists and airlines, with Qantas’ hands stained with the blood of a $13,000 double bass.

In a post shared on Facebook last week, Melbourne-based performer Mark Elton claimed that his prized double bass was “smashed beyond repair” while it was being handled by Qantas, while Elton was travelling to Perth for this year’s Fringe World festival. He hypothesised the instrument was “dropped from a considerable height by [the airline’s] baggage people”.

Elton went on to note that Qantas offered “no apology or notification of any accident involving my precious instrument”, and said the situation marked a “major emotional and financial setback”.

Hey @qantas! Thanks for a very depressing start to my month of shows at @fringeworldperth 2024. After flying...

Posted by Mark Elton on Monday, January 15, 2024

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As reported by The West Australian, Elton’s double bass would cost an estimated $13,000 to replace, with the damages being so severe that the instrument can’t even be repaired.

“It’s such a weird injury,” Elton told the paper. “I’ve seen a lot of injuries on instruments and especially bases. It’s at the bottom left-hand corner and the flightcase has been hit very hard, very quickly.

“Imagine if your pet came out the other end and there was something wrong with it. This is is the kind of emotional attachment I’m talking about. This is the culmination of a lifetime of being a professional musician. This is the culmination of 30 years of work. It’s a handcrafted instrument, like, actually handcrafted, and is like [an] actual family member to me.”

Following Elton’s call-out, Qantas reportedly assessed CCTV footage from the airports he travelled between, and told him there was no clear evidence that the case was damaged in transit. The airline reportedly offered to make a goodwill payment nonetheless.

Speaking to The West Australian, a Qantas representative said the company was conducting an investigation into the incident. A spokeswoman said: “We know how important it is to handle all luggage with care, including musical instruments. We are concerned to hear that the double bass has been damaged and we have been actively investigating what has happened with our ground handling partners since we were first notified [last] Tuesday.” reached out to Qantas for more information. According to a representative, Elton told the company he wanted a luthier in Melbourne to assess the damage upon his return to the city; Qantas are reportedly keeping the case open so they can “review the reports when available”.