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Baggage Handlers! Why do they hate musicians?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by BAG, Feb 2, 2017.

  1. Rant time!!!

    Last year when my girls went to NZ for their Grandads 80th they took two of our Cort acoustic guitars. When they arrived back home the case of one of them was virtually destroyed. Up at the headstock end it was crushed so badly that there was splintered wood poking through the soft inside plush material. It's the strongest part of the case and they would have had to put something seriously heavy on it to do so much damage. Luckily it protected the guitar so we didn't make too much of a fuss when reporting it.

    On Sunday just gone we got back from holidays in NZ and took the Cort Earth Mini guitar in a Mini Maton hard case. My eldest daughter went to retrieve it in Sydney and when I saw her walking towards us with the case in one hand and the guitar in the other I guessed that it had been damaged..... and I was right.

    There had been so much pressure put on the face of the case that it obviously pushed the bridge so hard it cracked the face on both sides of the guitar face about 8 inches long running parallel to the strings. On further inspection I found that the bracing on the inside of the guitar was shattered in numerous places.

    So that is one guitar and one case destroyed on two trips. We took the cheaper guitars for this very reason but it only makes the anger a little less than if it had been one of our good instruments. Add to this that I know at least another 4 friends who have had guitars badly damaged by airline baggage handlers, one of which was a very expensive instrument in a seriously strong Hiscox case.

    The only conclusion I can come to is that in some cases they must do it deliberately, or at the very least, load them in such a way that damage is likely. Why bother having fragile stickers and checking them separately in the fragile and oversize section.

    I won't name the airline yet as there is a chance they will reimburse us. On the way over to NZ we were helped with check-in and, as per usual, were made to sign a waiver for the guitar. Coming home we used the full self-check-in system which included self baggage check so there was no signed waiver. It's going to be too expensive to repair so we've gotten a quote for replacement.

    One of my best friends is actually a baggage handler so next time i'm over his place I might just give him a punch in the face to pass on to his co-workers. ;)
    murphy and salcott like this.
  2. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    The Baggage handling system at an airport is a brutal place. You have to pack like you're going to throw it off your roof. Flight cases are available for most instruments and will protect your investment from damage.
    Morrighan likes this.
  3. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Read the fine print people. Over a certain value that I consider low, the airlines will not pay......regardless of the $1000.00 plus you paid for a "current" flight approved case. Oh yeah, and the case is part of the payout. The airlines have managed to absolve themselves of as much financial responsibility as feasible.

    When I travel by air with an instrument now, I buy a ticket for it. My guitar sits next to me, i request it's meal for myself if it's not flushable and there have been times back in the 80's and 90's when I allowed the two of us to be "bumped" for the extra tickets.

    One time they attempted to just give me one ticket instead of two for a bump and I explained that I paid for two tickets, they needed two seats, I gave them two seats, and they owed me two tickets. Being 6' plus with shoulder length hair and a beard with no social constraints at keeping the conversation at a socially acceptable level, I was quite convincing with my side of the argument, enough to win.

    Read the fine print! You'll be surprised.
    murphy and Jerry Ziarko like this.
  4. twinjet

    twinjet AJ, you're the MAN! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    I work on the ground myself. You want me to handle your bags because I use a feather-light touch when placing an instrument case anywhere and make damn sure my coworkers are careful too. Sorry this happened to you.
  5. Ross W. Lovell

    Ross W. Lovell

    Oct 31, 2015

    Thanks, I know some are good.

    I've seen my guitar, pulled off the conveyor and tossed more feet than I thought was possible to a guy inside the fuselage who ALMOST caught it as it bounced off something and onto the tarmac below, near where I was sitting and happened to see it. It had the address label and 2 fragile stickers on it.

    It was happenstance I witnessed this, and I buy tickets for them now.

    The fine print on the airlines website now is quite clear and NOTHING anybody does to prepare will allow the airline to pay you over the amount they have decided they will pay. The ATA approved flight case doesn't matter, amount still the same.

    Thanks for doing a quality job, in a profession that is wracked by far too much these days regarding security.
    twinjet likes this.
  6. I did talk to my baggage handler friend and what he told me was quite enlightening. While he said that there may be some a-holes that go out of their way to do damage they are by far in the minority. He went on to say that most damage is done by idiots who appear to have no functioning brain matter.

    As an example he told me about an incident recently where he went into the baggage hold to check on the packing done by a crew and thought he could smell wine. A quick search found red wine leaking out of a box that had fragile and wine bottle stickers. He asked who had loaded it and the culprit owned up. When asked why he'd throw a wine box the guy said, "I didn't know it was wine". My mate used all his self-control to stop himself from smashing the remaining bottles over the idiots head.

    I like this idea!
    murphy likes this.
  7. Cheaper to rent a guitar or instrument at your destination? (If available).
  8. Oddly

    Oddly Unofficial TalkBass Cartographer! Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2014
    Dublin, Ireland.
    Speaking as a baggage handler myself, rocking up with that attitude sure as hell won't make you any friends.

    That said it's generally a badly-paid job, with lousy working conditions. Even if some of us will go that extra bit to handle instruments properly, the environment is not helpful.

    Either invest in a serious professional touring level flight case or buy a seat for the instrument. Nothing less will guarantee safety.
    Bob_Ross likes this.
  9. This is exactly so. Emphasis is mine.
    Bob_Ross and Oddly like this.
  10. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It's indifference, not hatred. Work just hard enough not to get fired. Work ethic isn't as common as it should be and for many baggage handlers it's not necessary, so it seems. Being considerate doesn't add to the paycheck so why bother? It's not right but it's the way it is.
    Oddly likes this.
  11. Richland123


    Apr 17, 2009
    Sorry to hear about your damaged guitars and cases. That reminds me of this video of a Perth, Australia baggage handler throwing a guitar.

  12. salcott

    salcott Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2007
    NYC, Inwood.
    Try traveling with a string bass in a trunk.
    murphy likes this.
  13. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    Try travelling with a string bass in a Hefty trash bag!
    murphy likes this.
  14. murphy


    May 5, 2004
    Toronto, Canada
    Even in my SKB bass safe...it arrived with the lid hanging off and bass half out....luckily not broken
  15. A friend had his guitar headstock broken when it was in a top of the line Hiscox case. A grown man can stand on those without damage to the instrument so how in the hell did they manage to break it? These types of instances are when I question if they go out of their way to do damage..... despite what my friend has said.
    Jeff Scott likes this.

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