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Airline travel with basses - current experience

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by MKS, Feb 20, 2003.

  1. Hi there.

    Just a quickie... I'm hoping to get a colleague to bring my new Conklin GT7 puppy home (US->UK). Transatlantic flights have fairly strict weight and dimension criteria (70lbs, 32kg max weight, dimensions not to exceed 30x18x38 h x w x l) for baggage. It's going to be in a ProTec ProPac case. Any thoughts on what this ought to come to in terms of weight and size?

    Anyone travelling these days have experience of taking a bass on board? What's the alternative to taking it on board? Any tips about packing the sucker up? It has been shipped UPS ground within the US so should still be fairly robustly packed for that. My friend is travelling business (hurrah!) so hopefully he'll have a little more leeway than standard economy in terms of what's allowed and what's not, but I'm still a little concerned.

    Yours, anxious of South East Kent.
  2. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    On the issue of importing an instrument into the UK, aren't you going to get stung with VAT/import duties?
  3. Yes, in theory. ;) But if I imported one straight from a retailer I'd get stung for import duty on the cost of shipping as well ($175). Which ain't great. It will be expensive, but there aren't too many GT7's kicking around in the UK and this one was a great price. I did some sums and even allowing for import duty and VAT it was still a good deal. Here she is:
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    On a side note - you've probably chosen the worst time in the history of air travel to do this! ;)

    So - with Tanks at Heathrow and the British Army expecting terrorists to use hand held rocket launcher to bring down planes - a live grenade found in a pasenger's luggage etc etc

    They are going to be so suspicious of this thing!! They will almost certainly open it up!!

    Can't it wait until after the war!!??? ;)
  5. Well yeah, but *I* didn't start it! I mean, they're just going to have to wait until I get my bass until they start the war... ...Bloody peasants... As long as they don't blow it up as a precautionary measure.

    Worse still if I was trying to transport a bassoon... Don't laugh it may happen.
  6. Your friend "may" be allowed to carry it on if it is in a hardshell case. That will make it easy to inspect at least when he goes through security. I just returned from Ireland last week (Aer Lingus). Out of Shannon they allowed a guy to carry on his acoustic guitar in a hard case. I believe that they just stowed it in a closet for him. I'd have your friend call the airline and find out their policies first. It may save you some euros.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I was thinking a trombone - no way that's getting through security - they would have to think it was a rocket launcher!! ;)
  8. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Though not recently, I've flown with basses many times, and in different ways (checking it as luggage in an Anvil ATA case, carrying on in gig bag, gate-checking in a "standard" case).

    I wouldn't imagine they'd permit you to take it inside the plane as a carry-on at all if its in a hardshell case. I've never seen it happen. If you want to try to carry it on, put it in a gig bag, one that LOOKS like a guitar is in it, so security doesn't have a cow. I took a cheapie steinberger as a carryon once, and its gigbag looked like a rifle case. I got stopped by EVERYONE. Use a bag that's shaped like a bass, for your own sanity.

    By far the best way to bring the bass over is to pack it in an ATA flight case and check it as luggage. Down-side to this is that some airlines will make you pay around $50 for "oversized" luggage (American Airlines did that to me once). No way it will get damaged in one of those cases, which you can find used for around $150 (possibly not for that particular bass, though, unless you modify the foam from a case made for a different bass).

    Personally, I'd never check a bass in a regular hardshell case with the luggage. If you want to, carry it to the gate with the express intent to gate-check it plane-side, just as you are boarding the plane. That way, it will be hand-placed into the cargo hold after everything else is in, and will be waiting for you right at the door as you exit the plane. It will bypass all of the baggage handlers, trucks and other machinery which typically causes all the damage. Put the bass, and ONLY the bass in its case, because pedals, cords and such will just make the inspectors freak out looking for bomb wiring. You might want to keep a screwdriver handy, though, to remove the control plate if they want a look-see.

    Best of luck to you!
  9. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I've flown many dozens of times with my bass in a well-padded gig bag, and it fit in the overhead compartments without any difficulty or damage. I haven't done so since the big increase in security, but I can't picture any unusual concerns with a bass, as long as you don't have any screwdrivers, cutting implements, etc. with you. For example, now I'd have to remember to unload my "Roadie Rench" out of the gig bag and put it in my checked luggage.
  10. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I flew with a jazz bass in a gig bag from DC to Tokyo and back over winter break. I've never had problems carrying it on board. On 747's basses will fit in the overhead bins of in the closet. On 777's the overhead bins are too short to fit a bass. Whenever I fly on a 777 I end up sticking the bass behind the last row of seats in a section.
  11. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Try to gate check it if you can. I have limited flight experience in the States w/a bass but couldn't say for the transatlantic. This reminds me that in about a month from now [unless if something changes] I'll be flying to New York to perform. Looks like i need to find out what airline i'll be going on so i can call and ask if they allow gate checks or carrying on of basses. Thats all
  12. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    Two words: Gig bag, and Overheard storage. I travel alot with my basses, and that's how I do it.
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    My experiences of late have been much like Bob Lee's.

    The difference was I took another bassist's advice and put the gig bag in one of those over-the-shoulder bags for suits that you can hang in the compartments at the front of the cabin. The bass, an irreplaceable custom, just hung there with some clothes. I guess the overhead works okay, but I'm always afraid of some fat nerd-turd ramming his PC and sales presentation overhead projector into the overhead where my bass is.

    That was travel inside the USA. Perhaps the international experience is dramatically different...I don't know.
  14. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    The only times I can recall my bass riding in one of the closets was when I was able to upgrade to first class, thanks to accumulating a certain number of frequent flier miles on American Airlines in less than a year. The flight attendants always offered to put my instrument in the closet where they also hung the other passengers' suit jackets.

    I noticed those four or five times that a musician flying in first class really raises people's curiosity!

    :rolleyes: :confused:< Hey, who is that sitting behind us? He had a guitar case and he looks like a musician. Maybe he's a rock star or something!

  15. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    That was the beauty, Bob - it wasn't my dime.

    But you know, if the man is going across the ocean, who wants to be in coach with Justin and Tiffany-Amber screaming half the time because mommy hasn't changed their diapers or they don't like the movie???
  16. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Uh yeah....they're going to let him through with a screwdriver.

    Keep a pistol handy too in case you can't get the case unlocked and have to shoot the latches off.

    btw: I've seen people carry on guitars in hard cases more than once.

    brad cook
  17. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    your best bet would actually be carrying it over in a gig bag - then the size issue wouldn't be an issue.

    i would not check the soft case with the bass in it -that's a sure way to get it destroyed, that case is not strong enough to withstand the chimps that work at most airports.

    when i went to the most recent namm shows, i packed 6 conklins in 2 ata golf club bags, 3 each, in gig bags. worked perfectly.
  18. Thanks for the advice guys. I have chatted with my "courier" and we both decided the easiest option was to encase the bass in a Durex condom, swallow it, then pay a visit to the Gents' room right after leaving customs. That way we get around the problem of checking in the bass and import duty.

    D'OH! What am I thinking? This is a public forum!! :D
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Seriously - let us know how you get on and if there were any additional charges etc.

    I am determined one day, to go to New York, for a holiday, take in a few Jazz clubs and bring back a bass.

    It was getting closer the other day - my girlfriend and I, were watching a Holiday programme on TV and they had a City Break to New York and she was saying how much nicer it looked, than she expected!!

    Well... I can dream...

    PS My dream probably includes finding out where our own Ed Fuqua is playing, turning up unnanounced, and heckling from the back - can you turn the bass amp up - I can't hear!! When he's playing unamplified!! ;)
  20. Oh yeah, and in your dream make sure to shout: "You need more practice, and your intonation sucks!! What are you hearing inside your head anyway?!" :D ;)

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