Basses and Air Travel - 2004

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Rodan, Feb 29, 2004.

  1. I know there are several threads on how to travel with your bass if you're flying. I just finished reading them. That being said, I most of these threads are at least a year old. I wanted to find out if anyone has experienced any significant changes in security or having different airlines allow you to carry your bass with you on board or check it in.

    I plan to travel with my bass in April (from Florida to NC), and begin to make this trip with my bass in tow every 3 months or so. This will be my first time flying with my bass since 9/11, so I wanted to find out if most of the things posted before still apply:

    1) Carry-on in a gig bag is best unless you have an ATA Flight case (which I don't)
    2)Make sure your gig bag really looks like a "guitar" gig bag
    3)Carry some AFM letter that is out there, which explains how people are allowed to carry musical instruments with them on the plane. (I looked at all previous links posted and they were dead.)

    As of this moment, I only have a hard case for my bass. I would like to carry my bass on board with me. I will probably end up buying a good gig bag, but what if I get to the check-in counter with my bass in a gig bag and they tell me I have to check it in? That's my biggest fear. At that point, I wouldn't be able to turn around, go home and get my hard case. I guess I could always bring it with me and leave it in the car, but I'm just trying to avoid having this trip, as well as subsequent trips, be a hassle.

    Any advise is greatly appreciated.
  2. LoJoe


    Sep 5, 2002
    Concord, NC USA.
    Other's results may vary, but here's is what I experienced a few months ago with US Airways and Northwest Airlines. I flew from Charlotte NC to Bucharest Romania. This involved 2 domestic flights each way and two international flights. I took a chance and brought my hardshell case. For 5 of the 6 flights the airlines were great. The standing rule is that if the carry on will not fit in the underseat, overhead, or garment bag closet, you must check it. A standard 34-35 inch scale bass hardshell is most likely going to be too long to fit in the closet. My G&L L-2500 case was way too long. In 5 out of 6 flights however, the flight crew was oustanding. They found ways to work around it. On one flight they stuck it in back behind the seats in the back, on another they took it up to the galley somewhere. They were courteous and very understanding of a musician and his precious instrument. They sometimes gave me what were called "gate check" tags. They would take it from me at the gate, store it somewhere, and then I could claim it at the gate soon as I got off the plane.

    I say it went well for 5 out of 6 flights for this reason. On the return trip, after all of these great results, I hit the customs check for the last leg of my flight which was from Memphis TN to Charlotte NC. The sixth out of six flights. The guy at the customs desk was a total a-hole. He demanded I open the case, took the bass out and manhandled it with his greasy paws, and then informed me that I needed to surrender it and pick it up at my final destination. I tried to negotiate, tried to explain about 5 flights I'd been on so far did not have a problem. He would not listen to me. He just slammed my bass back in the case and threw it on the belt. After 5 flights with no damage, and not a single scratch to my case, when I got home, three of the feet were broken off the case, one of the latches was broken, the the bass itself looked like it had been handled by a bunch of greasy handed mechanics. If I were to try it again, I might go with a gig bag as I think it would fit in the garment closet, but then again, what if the garment closet is full. If you do want to take your main bass, get some insurance on it. You can add it as a rider to your homeowners or renters policy for the price of a set of strings.
  3. Did you file a complaint at all? He damaged your property and didn't treat it with any respect at all. What an a-hole.