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Airline travel

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mccoyblues, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. mccoyblues


    Sep 24, 2002
    Atlanta GA
    I'm going to Europe this summer. What is the BEST way to travel with your bass. Do you take your chances and assume you can carry it on, do you buy an ATA case and let the baggage handlers have it? What are my other options?

    What is your experience and advice?
  2. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    If you do a search for "airline" or "airplane" you'll find lots of stories/advice on this. The only bass I take with me on a plane is my Steinberger. It's small, virtually indestructable, and fits in every overhead bin known to man.

    Many people here have gotten their basses safely on board in a gig bag. However, there's always a slight chance you could run into someone who wants to force you to "gate check" it, and damage could result, unless you have a really good gig bag. Basses in hard cases they want you to check as luggage, and I've heard many stories of people's basses being destroyed in this fashion.

    Personally, I'd leave it at home if I could, or get an ATA case. Other than that, you could risk getting it on using a gig bag and begging them to let you put it in the overhead bin, which works for most people.
  3. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    You can pretty much guarantee you won't be carrying it on. Not in this day and age. You'll have to check it, so invest in the best case money can buy.

    Unless you need the bass in Europe, I would leave it at home.
  4. AuG


    May 22, 2005
    Fort Collins, CO
    ^^ What he said. :meh:

    It sucks I know, but who knows what the imbeciles that work for TSA or Homeland Security might think about trying to bring a bass as a carry-on. It could be a weapon, after all. :rollno:

    Even the ATA cases, the supposed "theft-preventing" cases are prone to theft. Many times baggage handlers just take the whole case and bring it home with them, then take the empty case back to work with them the next day. Only then does the airline "find" your lost case.

    Edit: Of course you can always buy a seat for your bass, if you've got money coming out the wazoo. =)

  5. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    Depends on the airline. United has let me carry my bass on tons of times, in a gigbag. It all depends on your attitude, be nice about it! Get there early, and speak with someone who will be working your flight. Ask if they can put it in the first-class closet.

    If you are unsure of what will happen, call the airline ahead of time and ask their advice.

    Worst case, I'd ship it over ther UPS or something. Or, just buy a new bass while you are there :) Buying a plane ticket to Europe for your bass would be mighty expensive :D
  6. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    If you take your bass in an ATA case, and it is locked, they will break the locks to inspect the contents (or so I've been told).
  7. -Sam-


    Oct 5, 2005
    Sydney, Australia
    I recently traveled to europe with my bass and went through the same dielema as you are. in the end i just found an old hard case, nothing fancy, and bought high density foam which i cut myself to hold my bass. I also wrapped the whole case in about 4 layers of bubble wrap. I then checked it in with my suitcase. It was perfectly fine and not a single bit of damage occured.

    However I went to europe with a massive band of 60 people and many arrangements were made with the company, Austrian Airlines, i dont know what the deals were but i assume something was made. Also my bass is an ibanez soundgear and not a fancy one, and as much as i love it i was no particuraly worried because i knew even if something happened it wasnt such a big deal cos, you know, its not an alembic or anything!

    Good luck with figuring out what to do and i very much doubt they will let you carry on all the way to europe.
  8. Assumer


    Mar 26, 2003
    I have taken my bass from the US to China and to Brazil. I used a Gator ATA case and never had a problem. Of course you could lock your case back then. Now it depends on the airport. Some will inspect your luggage then let you lock it, some will not.
  9. I have a very safe, solid, and stable ATA approved SKB Executive Golf Case, which serves my travel needs just fine!:(SKB 2SKB-4816W ATA Staff Golf Travel Case

    It easily fits two of my basses in their separate gig bags and adds up to the exact ATA flight weight cut-off.

    I'll surely be using this when I travel to Italy later this year to play in the "78 Hour Non-Stop Improvisation Festival", held at the CastelBrando (Italy's oldest castle with 2,000 years of improvised music and counting!!!) in the Venice countryside, for 4 straight days starting on September 21, 2006.

    Also joining in on the fun are noisemakers Mike Keneally (Frank Zappa, Steve Vai, etc.), Willie Oteri, Pat "K.C. Stiletto" Mastelotto, Markus Reuter, Stuart Hamm (Joe Satriani, etc....Terrien and Hamm holding the low end DOWN! What?! What?!), Ronan Chris Murphy, and of course the most magnificent Schroeder on drummage!!

    Hope this helps. :)



  10. zazz


    Feb 27, 2004
    there is a special ticket that you can get on special circumstances that allow a carry on. It will be stored in the cloakroom locker section. Much more likely if you travel business!!. Another option is to take off the neck and store it in a rucksack with lots of padding.

    i always worry about the huge drop in temperature ...say hong kong to newyork at 39 thousand feet over the polar icecap...the luggage storage is going to suddenly plumet to who knows what ?? -50 degrees or more who knows?....i wouldnt put a high end bass in those conditions unless it was in a real good case...i would however remove the neck and bring it in the cabin.

    i think the top dudes fly with their guitars in a spare seat on first class.....fat chance for the rest of us.
  11. remo


    Jan 15, 2005
    get the bas and most padded case you can for it.. try and insure it for the flight.. if you are ultra paraniod about it put on of these in the rear cavity or under the pickguard :D


    worldwide GPS Tracking.. if anyone steals it you can pay them a visit with one of...


  12. mike sancho

    mike sancho SANCH

    Feb 10, 2004
    Milwaukee, WI
    ATA flight case has worked for me. Trying to carry your bass on board is always going to be a gamble depending on whose at the gates. Some airlines it doesn't matter what you've been told by the ticket agents. It can all change at the gate and then your bass is in a gig bag and not neccesarrily in your hands. Flight case for me all the way.
  13. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    When to Europe for two weeks for a mini tour during the holidays. Took my base in an Incase Tour Bag. Only had to gate check once, and it was the last thing loaded and the first thing out. Other bass I took as luggage was lost 4 times... Got it back two weeks after I returned?
  14. paintandsk8

    paintandsk8 Pushin' my soul through the wire...

    May 12, 2003
    West Lafayette, IN
    I'm very interested in this topic as well. I'm flying to florida in a couple months to play on a cruise ship. I'm a college student and can't afford to buy a nice ATA case and am very nervous about sending my bass to the luggage compartment in just the unlockable hard case. I was thinking about possibly detaching the neck and carrying on the body, and packing the neck up in fishing rod tube or something. I don't figure they would let me carry the neck on just in my hands would they?
  15. I have only travelled with a bass once - got it onto the plane in a gig-bag. That was long before the new security upgrades, and I still had to really argue for them to let me take it on. But my strategy was a little different (and might work for you).

    I took a hard case and checked it, with a few clothes etc inside, and let them know that I had a bass and was taking it onboard in a gig bag. They eventually said I was OK to take it onboard, but if they hadn't I would have repacked there and then to check the bass in the hard case.

    The best of both worlds, avoids the possibility of having to check your bass in a soft bag.

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    Which is a bummer.

    IMO, if you need a bass in Europe, buy a cheap one there, then bring it back. That way, you get a new bass, it's in top shape while you're in Europe, and it only has to travel in a plane on one trip. If it makes it home, BONUS!:D
    It's cheaper than buying it a seat, that's for sure.
    Too bad there aren't GC's in the EU, AFAIK, because then you could "buy" one, play it, then take advantage of the 30-day return policy.:D
  17. lowstar


    Jul 3, 2001
    i´ve travelled with a bass in a gigbag from the us to europe just 5 months ago, and nobody bothered me. i took the strings off, but i asked a security guy and he said they would have let me take it with strings, too. the only pain is finding an overhead bin with enough space, you probably won´t be able to put right where you sit, but hey, you can´t have it all.
    the other possibility, borrow a bass from somebody (if you know somebody there) or rent one.
    as somebody mentioned above, if you wanna take it carry-on, it depends a lot on how you come across...be nice, ahead of time, blahblahblah...

  18. Speaking from experience... don't risk it. It'll end in tears.

    Insure it, and check it though. It's the only way to be sure.
  19. I've travelled from Pakistan to Italy carrying my SX Jazz Bass and it didn't bother anyone. Later on I travelled from Pakistan to India with my Yamaha on a metal case (i checked it this time), and both basses came out fine.
  20. mccoyblues


    Sep 24, 2002
    Atlanta GA
    Here's the deal. I'm on tour so the bass (P-Bass) has to come with me. Buying one in Europe seems like a last resort. It was suggested to just remove the neck and pack the body and neck in a carry on bag, reassemble upon arrival. That seems like a reasonable solution.

    I was considering buying an SKB 44RW Bass Safe that is ATA approved, made of roto-plastic and inexpensive ($115.00). They are cheap considering the price of the aluminum over plywood cases of years past. I'm just not sure about checking it, even in a case that is designed for air travel.

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