Basses and air travel redux

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bben, Aug 4, 2003.

  1. bben


    Feb 28, 2002
    Santa Fe, NM
    I was idly watching the plane next to mine while waiting at the gate. Apparently a baggage handler inside the plane was having a bad day. A lot of bags were making the 8 or 9 foot fall from the top of the baggage escalator onto the pavement. This went on the whole time they were loading the plane - every few minutes someone would notice and put the bags back on the conveyor, but more kept falling off.

    SO - when packing your bass to be checked luggage, anticipate that it's going to fall 9 feet onto concrete.
  2. You would not believe how I didn’t want to hear that.
  3. bazzhed4


    Aug 2, 2003
    Aberdeen MD
    heres my horror story.

    while going on vacation...i brought a bass with me to keep in practice. knowing that luggage gets lost and handlers are not the most careful ppl in the world i decided (thankfully) not to bring my most expensive bass with me....but to rather bring a cheapie. i didnt even get through the checkin counter before i ran into the worst customer service i have ever seen. while at the front counter of the airline the lady behind the counter started grabbing my bags and throwing them on the belt behind her. i nicely asked her if she would not throw my bags like that and she proceeded to look me in the eye and say..."sir i didnt throw you bags.....if i threw them it would look like this"....she then grabbed my bass and proceeded to throw it backwards behind her without looking where it went. it bounced off the belt and landed on the floor. i said "thats enough...your throwing around a 600 dollar bass there lady" she said "im sorry here let me fix that for you" she turned around...picked up the bass off the floor (thankfully it was in its case) lifted it to shoulder level and dropped it straight down on the baggage belt. i said..."let me talk to you supervisor" she said.."i am the supervisor". i said..."give me my f"n bags and transfer me to another airline" about that time another lady behind the counterasked what was happening but obviously she was not going to do anytning either.
    the moral of the story...if you must travel with an insturment...i reccomend flight cases...if not...mail it to yourself and do a good job of packing. oh and one other thing.....stay away from continental airlines check in terminal at the baltimore airport......oops did i say that out loud?
  4. jusplayinmybass


    Apr 17, 2003
    Conyers, Ga
    Keith McMillan Instruments, SIT Strings, Accugroove Cabinets
    For this reason, I never check my bass. I carry it on my shoulder and put it in the closet if I have to. I only have 1 bass and if that is broken, I don't have much other income.
  5. I really cannot believe that story. Just for that reason I'll make sure I travel with a female, so if a lady like that gives me lip I can ask my friend to kick her ass. Man, the first time she threw my bass I woulda flipped out, screaming at her bigtime, nevermind 3 times. That just makes me mad.
  6. yea that pisses me off big time!!!
  7. Man, if she did that with my SR5 I would have called the police and charged her with destruction of property.
  8. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I think it was in misc. that i got this info from. I take it we all remember the good ol' AFM, right? There's a link in misc. that has the letter from the AFM to the transportation association thing-a-majiggy that says that are allowed to take our instruments on the air craft as carry on luggage as long as there is enough room. However, i do plan on buying one of those new SKB Bass Vault things and hoping for the best if i do travel. I am tempted to get a flight case though. That's all
  9. jusplayinmybass


    Apr 17, 2003
    Conyers, Ga
    Keith McMillan Instruments, SIT Strings, Accugroove Cabinets
    I recall JT mentioning that he got an SKB case for golf clubs ant it fit 3 basses. Just in case anybody needed to carry more than 1 bass.
  10. jusplayinmybass


    Apr 17, 2003
    Conyers, Ga
    Keith McMillan Instruments, SIT Strings, Accugroove Cabinets
    She probably would have had to call the police on me. I only have 1 bass and it cost me 2Grand.
  11. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    The moral: buy a steinberger. It won't break, and they are the perfect shape for beating disrespectful people to death with.
  12. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    Here's the PDF:


    As far as bazzhed's experience that's just plain ridiculous. If it were me I probably would have slapped the lady silly. I recall reading an account of someone actually getting so fed up at a checkin counter that he broke the attendant's neck. He was later sued by the airline, but won.

    Whenever I fly I take a bass in a gig bag and carry it on to the plane. I've never been given any trouble. Then again I usually don't fly domestic (U.S.) airlines.
  13. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    You can take a musical intrument plus one item of carry on luggage onto a plane with you according to an agreement made between the TSA (Transportation Security Administration), and the AFM (American Federation of Musicians).

    Munji once posted link to a site where you could download a document explaining the situation.

    I keep a copy in each of my basses' cases.

  14. JayJay


    May 13, 2002
    I was wondering if the dimensions of the bass hardcase would be able to get into the overhead compartment in the cabin... Anybody tried that before? What about a gig bag, would it fit?
    Besides the overhead compartment, where would be other possible spots in the aircraft to temporary relief the bass? I read that some airline actually require you to purchase for you guitar an empty seat to put it beside you!! :meh:

    Me too would not want to check my wife in after reading that she actually falls from so high onto hard concrete floor :crying:
  15. SoComSurfing

    SoComSurfing Mercedes Benz Superdome. S 127. R 22. S 12-13.

    Feb 15, 2002
    Mobile, Al
    I remember reading that post at work. I immediately saved the document, and printed several copies. Whenever one of our customers is flying, I give them a copy to make sure they dont check thier instrument. Really, I don't know who would want to check a $5000 acoustic guitar, but some people think that's thier only option. So far, no one that I've given the letter to has had a problem.
  16. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    I brought a few copies in for my customers too. I should keep a laminated one in the store so I can have a permanent form for copies.

  17. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    A couple of weeks ago I had a gig in Nashville, so even though I hate gigbags, I went out and bought one so I could carry my P-Bass on with me. None of the airports gave me any problems, and it fit in the overhead just fine.
  18. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I've fit my jazz bass in a gig bag in the overhead compartment of a 747 with a little room to spare. Not sure whether a HSC would fit, but I kind of doubt it. The overhead bins on a 777 are too short to fit a bass. I either end up putting my bass in the coat closet or behind the last row of seats in front of a bulkhead. I was told once at the checkin counter that if the flight was too crowded I would have to gate check my bass. I definitely would not want to do that. The flight was full but there was still room on board so there was no problem.

    I'm sure there are certain size restrictions as to how big the case can actually be, but I've never heard of having to buy an extra seat for a bass guitar. For an upright this is common, but not for bass guitars.
  19. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    I just flew from Albany, NY to San Fancsico and back this past weekend for Bassquake. The Delta manager at Albany stated that there was a new policy and NO musical instruments larger than allowance would be let on board. He finally let me bring it if the crew said there would be enough room. On the way back from SF, the TSA stopped me and said that DELTA said that there would be absolutely no musical instruments allowed on board. I had to go back to the tix counter. I showed them the letter from the TSA to the AFM, they stated that the TSA's policy is not Delta nor is it the FAA to whom Delta must answer. I ended up placing my bass in the SKB bass safe (which I usually send empty and BTW do not trust one bit). The flight attendants apologized to me and stated that they saw numerous guitars that day on other flights.

    I called Delta customer service and was told that Musical Instruments would be allowed IF there was room on the plane. When I told him that I did not even get past the TSA to talk to the crew, he called the manager in SF. He then came back and stated that there would be absolutely no guitars allowed on board and just because other airports did not follow the policy, it was just too bad.

    I guess the conclusion is:

    2. Call ahead and make sure it is OK
    3. Only take the bass on board - check everything else
    4. Do not rely on that TSA to AFM letter
    5. If you only have a gig bag, get a flight case. Put the flight case through empty if they will allow you to carry the bass on board
    6. Put the flight case through on "standby" - it will be the last thing loaded and you can retrieve it if there is a problem
    7. If you can get the bass past the tix counter and the TSA, be as polite as possible to the crew as they will make the final decision.
    8. GOOD LUCK!!

    By the way, my MTD 435 made it through without a scratch. Although the material of the SKB Bass Safe would let a "Fragile" sticker adhere to it. I will call them and find out why not

  20. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    Hi Mike,

    That's very interesting. Alaska Airlines gave me no problems at all. I flew in/out of San Jose though. The flight crew on both trips were very responsive, even to the point of making other passengers move their baggage. The plane on my flight back to SEA didn't have a coat closet in FC, so the crew had me use an overhead bin in coach and rearranged other people's stuff to make it all fit.

    If I travel with more than one bass or am concerned about the flight, I use an SKB golf case. A double gig bag fits in it with no problem and has space left over for pieces and parts. You can see it at:

    Since it is a golf case, most ticket counters don't look twice. I've also noticed the bagage handlers tend to load golf bags last. It's also much cheaper than an Anvil case.