America West Airlines doesn't allow guitars as carry-on

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by JimmyM, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Apparently America West Airlines has a policy against carrying guitars and basses in gig bags onto the plane as overhead baggage. This is the first I have ever heard of an airline having a policy against it. I had to fly to Phoenix from Orlando on Thursday morning. As I boarded the plane, this rude jerk flight attendant named Dave told me and our guitarist we weren't allowed to bring guitars onboard. I argued with him for a few minutes about it, then decided he was never going to let me go on with it and was going to call security, so I let him have it and put it in baggage. And then I let him have it about his attitude, which sucked. By the way, the whole flight attendant crew from flight 27 going from Orlando to Phoenix on June 18 were the absolute worst and most uncooperative flight crew I've ever seen.

    But I digress. The point is that they told me that America West has a policy against allowing guitars and basses in gig bags as carry-ons, even though they easily fit in the overhead bins. I called America West and talked to someone who didn't know if there was a policy, then talked to someone in Phoenix who worked in the baggage office who said they did have that policy.

    I have had trouble in the past with certain planes and flight crews who try to stop me from bringing my bass, but I have never heard of an airline that has an actual policy against it. Usually, you explain to the crew that it fits in all but the smallest of overhead bins or ask if you can stick it in a closet and they accomodate you. And if they absolutely have to put it in baggage, they have always been very good about how they handle them, unless you're needlessly a jerk about it. But this plane was large and had plenty of room in the overheads. To be fair, the flight crew in Phoenix back to Orlando were very nice and didn't try to stop me. But since people in two cities told me they have a policy against guitars, then that is just wrong.

    I know some of you aren't affected by this but some of us have to travel with our guitars and gig bags in the overhead is the accepted way to travel in planes with them. Everybody who doesn't want a hernia from lugging a flight case around does it. I know maybe 3 or 4 working musicians who use flight cases. The rest use gig bags. And when an airline refuses to let you do it, they not only threaten the safety of your bass but they can jeopardize your gig and cost you a fortune in the process.

    So even if it doesn't affect you, please go to and send them an email telling them to revise their policy against allowing guitars and basses in soft bags as carry-on baggage. Thank you!
  2. Ike Harris

    Ike Harris

    May 16, 2001
    Nashville TN
    I have a pdf file of a letter from a TSA administrator, which is available at the AFM's website, that tells about a policy inacted Dec. 2002 allowing carrying musical instruments aboard commercial airlines. You should print it and carry it with you in the event that you carry your instrument on board. I would venture a guess that it would override any individual airline policy against such a practise. If you have trouble downloading it, PM me and I'll send it to you.

  3. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I doubt that a TSA policy that is more liberal would over-rule a company policy that is more strict. It might help win a plea for compassion, however.
  4. It would help if there was a question among flight staff about its legality, but beyond that it wouldn't do much good. If the airline doesn't allow it, then that's the end of the argument. The best form of protest is to use a different airline.
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The TSA letter (which I already have, thanks) did no good in this case. TSA can't make the airlines do it, but in some cases the flight attendants don't know that and would be more liberal about it if you show them the letter.

    And you are right, Paul. The best method of protest is to use a different airline. So America West, you just lost out on a couple grand per trip from my band!
  6. Chrix


    Apr 9, 2004
    When I traveled to the Dominican Republic back in '03, I heard stories of airlines giving guitarests, violinists, cellists, etc...crap for bringing instruments on as carry-on due to the ability to take the strings off and use them is choking devices. Even heard a story about a violinist being told to remove his strings completely if he wanted to take his violin on-board.

    Luckily I didn't have this problem when I carried my BG on with me (unfortunately, can't remember the airline. Sorry.) But supposedly it's now an issue.
  7. bassgeek


    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    I've had problems with this same scenario recently; it went down like this.

    I flew down to Miami with American Airlines. When I checked in, I reserved a seat near the back of the plane, so I would board first and have plenty of empty overheads to put the bass in. Not once did any of the airline employees say a word to me and I strolled on with the bass in a gig bag, no problem.

    Flight home was a different story. It was with DELTA (avoid at all costs). They wouldn't even let me in to the gate area with the bass! Luckily, I had an hour to argue with the ticket agent, and summon a "supervisor", who also would not let me take the bass on. I wasn't about to check it in as baggage which was the only suggestion they had. They claim that there is about to be a "major overhaul" of the carry-on baggage policies for all airlines. I don't know if this is B.S. or not, but it doesn't look good. Long story short, I had to buy a seat on the plane for my bass! (200 bucks I did not want to spend). THe other passengers gave me dirty looks when I strapped my bass in to the seat next to me. The plane was packed. The stewardess even tried to get me to put it in an overhead bin!! I showed them the bass' boarding pass and even they couldn't believe I had to buy a seat. So, it's back to the flight case for me, which sucks, because by the time you get to the gig, you've thrown your back out from carrying it.
  8. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    That is absolutely ridiculous. Delta does have some real poopheels working for them, but I can only think of one time they ever stopped me from carrying on a bass, and that was because of the overheads being too small. However, they have attempted to stop me many times. You should not have been forced to do that. You should have at least had the option of gate checking it. Paying for its own seat was just ridiculous. And BTW, I dare anyone on a plane to give me dirty looks. I hate flying as it is, and to put up with jerks just isn't in my nature when I'm on a plane.

    From now on, I am going to not take their crap lying down. I am going to protest any airline who refuses me and I'm going to badmouth them on the internet and write them letters of protest and name names. If some old lady can walk on with two bags and a purse, there's no reason I can't take a bass on board. I think the airlines' arbitrary policy on guitars is shameful.
  9. anhmytran


    Jun 18, 2005
    I know a Celloist who always buys a flying ticket for her cello.

    About a dirty look, maybe it is just the way you see it. To the other eyes, the look is just fine.
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    As an update, I wrote America West the same night I started this thread. To this date I have not heard back from them. So the only conclusion I can draw is that America West is run by jerks and douchebags.
  11. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    The people you see on airplanes, 99.9% of 'em you'll never see again. So, how they look at you has no significance.

    I realized this when I used to transport my cranky, screaming, odiferous babies across 6000 miles of airspace. Both of whom, BTW, are now lovely young ladies and great travellers.

    Too bad about America West, though. I have a luthier friend who used them, real nice low keyed guy. The most pissed off I ever saw him (other than during the '00/'04 presidential elections) was after an experience with them. Eyes bugging out, neck veins bulging, spit flying....sound familiar? And his story wasn't the only one.

    I'll avoid them, just on what I've heard.
  12. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist Supporting Member

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Exactly. A few years ago I was relocating and I was travelling with my wife, two kids (third hadn't arrived yet) with car seats, and my mother-in-law. While sitting at the airport the college guys were sort of snickering at me and my entourage. They were quite surprised and stopped laughing when they saw us all in first class when they boarded. :D