Originally Posted by JeremyKurtz
I've heard several horror stories about the TSA repacking a bass terribly, leaving latches or straps undone, and other issues that have caused damage.
I have not tried that but I do hope that it works!
Here is another horror story...
I have flown with my bass more times than I care to keep track and have had my share of troubles with airlines but never with TSA, until…last March.
On my way back from a Festival in the Dominican Republic I was puzzled when the airline people said that there was no need for inspection by TSA (why even keep a TSA crew in a foreign airport then?). As strange as it seemed I didn’t think much of it.
Once I landed in Miami and had to re-check my luggage after customs – to my surprise - TSA said the same thing and had me put the bass through the x-ray machine myself and off it went. As I had two more flights before landing home I thought most of the agony was over.
Later that day at my destination baggage claim area I expected for someone to bring the bass through a side door, where they usually bring over-sized equipment. For my surprise and horror I saw my bass case coming out of the conveyer belt and luckily I was quick enough to get to it before it landed on its head.
The flight case – a carbon fiber Accord case – was held semi-shut with TSA adhesive tape. There was a three-inch gap between the two halves of the case and the soft case straps were hanging off through the gap.
The first thing I did was to get my cell phone and record the crime scene and then look for an American Airlines agent. Since it was almost midnight, nobody was present for me to file a formal complaint with. The TSA people were gone and the airline agent was fast to flee the scene once she saw the TSA tape all over the bass.
By some kind of a miracle my instrument was undamaged but the flight case did not have the same luck. All eight locks had been ripped off the body of the case and for that reason they had to keep it together with tape.
My flight case did not have the “TSA approved” locks as it was purchased prior to all this non-sense. I was upset with the fact that they declined to inspect my instrument in two different occasions and also did not bother to page me at any of the two airports where all this absurdity took place.
So, I sent an angry letter to the TSA Customer Support center along with a DVD of the video I took at the airport. Within three days they called me and after much arguing and explaining they agreed to pay for the damages.
Since then I have avoided this drama as much as I can. I even bought a removable-neck flight case and am in the process of having my main bass “operated” on to see if life becomes any easier.
Thanks for the invaluable tip Jeremy! You are right, the more we know how to navigate the grey area that is flying with a bass the better our chances of receiving some kind of reasonable treatment at airports as we patiently wait for the long overdue implementation of the new weight restrictions.
Cheers all and keep them (basses) safe!