airplane travel w/ a bass

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by nikofthehill, Jun 5, 2003.

  1. nikofthehill

    nikofthehill Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    san jose, CA
    with all the new security restrictions about carry-on luggage, what would be the best way to take my bass on an airplane?
    should I check it in (i'm planning on buying a hardshell case)?
    what are my other options?
    thanks a lot!
  2. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    You should get a HSC and check the bass. Airlines in general have been real sticklers for putting basses in the overhead. And forget about hanging the bass in the coat rack. That only seems to work sometimes when flying first class. I used to be able to get them to let me put a bass in a gig bag in the overhead, but I have not been able to get by with that in a few years.

    I would say check the bass in a case.
  3. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    The AFM provides a letter to members for taking instruments onboard an airplane.

    AFM Pres Tom Lee negotiated this with the US Department of Transportation, TSA.
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    SKB has a new case. It was mentioned in BP a few issues back. It is an ATA approved case that fits the bass in a gig bag. I ordered one, I'll post something when I get it

  5. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    I would never, EVER check a bass with the luggage in a "regular" hardshell case. I saw one coming down baggage claim about two years ago with a hole punched clean through it, about the size of a baseball. I saw another several years ago that had the case pop open and the guitar was damaged. I you are going to check it, get a flight case. You can usually pick them up for around $175 or cheaper used, even if they aren't made for your bass you can trim the foam to fit. If you insist on checking a regular case, be sure to wrap three lines of duct tape around it to keep it from being knocked open by baggage handlers.

    The new SKB flight case also is a good alternative. It can be seen at their web site.

    That being said, the airlines will not let you take your bass on the plane in a hard case, but they "should" let you take it on in a gig bag and put it in the overhead.

    I've got a PDF file of the recent letter from the head of the Tranportation Safety Administration to the president of the American Federation of Musicians clarifying policy to permit carry-on instruments, and it can't hurt to print a copy and take it with you to flash at them if they start giving you hassles.

    I tried to attach the file, but it won't permit PDF's here, and the zip was too large. Suggestions?
  6. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    I should rephrase what I posted earlier. YOu can check a bass in a HSC, but the risk factor increases greatly. I have done it many times, but the last few years I have only used flight cases. They are much better and can withstand quite a beating. Mine have help up to flights, drunken house crews and tourbus bays for years. Highly recommended.

    As far as the overhead, I have not been able to convince any flight crew to let me put my bass up there since 2001. But that's just me.... : )
  7. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel Guest

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Mike, that case looks like it's the answer!

    Did you order it direct?

    Here's the link to SKB's info on it:

    Without something like this, or a real "Anvil" type case, I would never check my bass into baggage. I've never had a problem carrying my bass in a gig bag on board. The last time I flew was last October on AA, and no problem. Fits in the overhead. I always very nicely ask the gate attendants for "special dispensation", that is, allowing me to board in the first group as if I were someone needing special assistance.

    I've never had a problem with security. In fact the security cats are always impressed when I whip out my beautiful walnut-topped Ken Smith 6 string for their close inspection. :smug:
  8. Mike A

    Mike A

    Oct 3, 2002
    Here's some VERY good info concerning flying w/ your bass I ran across while checking out Vic Wooten's Bass Camp:

    Flying with your bass
  9. nikofthehill

    nikofthehill Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    san jose, CA
    i would much prefer carrying my bass in a gig bag and putting it in the overhead. i am flying united airlines, has anyone had any experience with them?

    is the TSA-AFM letter posted anywhere else on the web? can you give me a link? or email? [email protected]
    thanks again,
  10. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    You should be fine with just locking a hardshell case, and putting extra stuffing around the bass...
  11. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin Inactive

    Dec 11, 1999
    People have been doing this for years (including Brian Bromberg and Norm Stockton):

    Bring the bass in a gig bag and check the flight case (a SKB keyboard case big enough to fit the bass in gig bag). If you get it on the plane cool, if you have a problem put it in the keyboard case and check it. Now that SKB has come out with a case especially for this purpose (at about $130.00), it is an easy investment to make. When you get to where you are going, leave the flight case in the hotel and just use the gig bag.

    I had some credit at a local store so they are getting it for me. Their SKB distributors knew nothing about it so they had to go directly to SKB. I also carry around a laminated copy of that letter from the US Dept of Transportation to the AFM.

  12. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    then there is the John turner method.

    When I met him, He had fit 3 basses in one SKB golf caddy flight case!!!

    3 of his monsters fit in their gig bags

    he had 2 of these gold cases too!
  13. nikofthehill

    nikofthehill Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    san jose, CA
  14. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    wow! now you guys like the union

  15. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    Just a thought. You might want to change your location. Calling people idiots is rude and disrespectful to the members here. Hence against the rules and regulations.
  16. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio!

    Jul 3, 2001
    Chester, Connecticut
    Former Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I've flown probably close to 100,000 miles with a electric bass in a well-padded gig bag and stowed in an overhead compartment. Most of that was on American Airlines. I've never had a problem--no damage, and no hassles from airline employees or security. In fact, a couple times a flight attendant has offered to put it in a coat closet. (Maybe they were afraid I might otherwise take it out and play a bass solo during the flight.) ;)
  17. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I make two round trips a year from the D.C. area to Tokyo and I always take a bass with me. I take mine in a gig bag and carry it on. I used to put it in the overhead bins if there was room, but the direct flight is now on a 777, and the overhead bins in a 777 are too short for a bass. Sometimes they let me put the bass in the closet, but other times they tell me to stick it behind the last row of seats in a section. I've never once had trouble taking an instrument on board and have always been well accommodated. I fly ANA if the airline makes any difference.

    I strongly advise against checking your bass if it's in anything less than a flight case or something that offers similar protection. There's a reason why baggage handlers are called "throwers" in some parts of the world.
  18. I've flown with my bass in a gigbag several times, the last time being last summer when I was coming to LA for college. I never really had a problem with it, and they tend not to mind as long as there's enough space in the overhead compartments. The people at the check-in counter usually said it should be fine, but the people at the gate often wondered whether they should let me or not. As soon as I told them the check-in people said it was ok, though, they told me it'd be fine as long as there's space.
  19. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I had to fly with a bass this year, i used a heavily padded case completely covered in duct tape (for some reason, a few security people questioned me.) I saw one baggage handler take the case off the plane and throw it about 7-8 feet onto the back of a cart. The bass wasn't damaged, but i think i was lucky. The case i was using had the corners dented inward, and a few cracks in it, but it wasn't mine. :cool: