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Basses and Airlines

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LJ Michaels, Apr 24, 2010.


  1. Not sure if this is the right place for this, but, here goes.
    Looking to fly to Ft Worth from Rapid City SD w/ my bass.
    What are the hazzards here?
    Have heard horror stories about this.
    What preparation's can I make?
    It's a 1975 J bass that I've had for 35 years and it would just kill me if anything happened to it. Have a SKB case for it and also a Mono gig bag. Which case should I use? I guess it depends if they let me carry on or not!
    Will airlines let me carry on or will I have to check?
    Also taking an amp, don't mind checking cause I have an ok flight case for it.
    Any advice will bring much thanks!!!
    LJ Michaels
    Rapid City SD
     
  2. Billy3000

    Billy3000

    Dec 18, 2008
    I flew from NC to Los Angeles this summer for a show and I brought my bass on board with me. They can only make you gatecheck it if there is absolutely no room in the overhead compartments or the closet on the front of the plane. I didn't have to gatecheck mine at all, I always made them make room for it cause I had heard so many horror stories. On the way back, my guitar player had to gatecheck his '61 SG reissue, and they snapped the headstock. The case was fine, no damage at all, but the guitar neck was broken, I've heard that this is a very common thing, like the airline guys hate musicians or something. The same thing recently happened to the singer from The Gaslight Anthem, American Airlines snapped the headstock off of his favorite acoustic guitar, but the case was completely undamaged.
     
  3. Band Dad

    Band Dad

    Dec 5, 2006
    San Mateo, CA
    Overhead should be good depending on the airline. Jet Blue advertised an amount of horizontal overhead space that was allowed each passenger, but this was in fact 1/2 the available space - double the space to account for two passengers. Just make them aware of your concerns. Jet Blue was very accommodating for my son when he flew SF to Boston and back.

    Gibsons (that SG) are notorious for headstock snapping. The strings should be loosened before subjecting a Gibson to the rigors of air travel.
     
  4. True, but it still takes a significant bang to get one to snap, even at full string tension.

    Between notoriously rough baggage handlers and security procedures, I would never check my guitar into baggage. Like Billy said, it's got to be on the plane with you, either overhead or a similarly stable hands-off storage area.

    A friend of mine just traveled to California where he picked up a beautiful Fender American Deluxe Jazz. The airline was not so accomodating with him, and he ended up dropping it off at the nearest UPS store to have it shipped home.

    Contact the airline and voice your concerns before you embark.
     
  5. I'm headed to L.A. from Winnipeg Mb, CA on Monday for a gig, called West Jet to see if they'd give me any problems bringing my bass on board. They told me they no longer allow instruments on board so I'd have to gate check it.

    Frankly I'm a little worried about it.
     
  6. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
  7. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
  8. Only in an ATA approved flight case and a pledge from the airline that it needs to be opened for security purposes only in your presence.

    There is not a hardshell on earth that will withstand the abuse your bass may endure, unless you are one of the very lucky.
     
  9. Sandor138

    Sandor138

    Jan 16, 2010
    Providence RI
    if it has a bolt-on neck you should dis-assemble it and put it in a case that will fit in the overhead
     
  10. Thanks to all that replyed, got lots to think about.
     
  11. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    Definitely this....
     
  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    if your bass does not fit in the little bin they provide for measuring whether it will be allowed in the overheads or not, they absolutely can deny you carrying it on, regardless of whether it fits in the overhead bins or not. i have had it happen numerous times. this is why i stopped trying to carry it on. i fly all the time and it's been a real crapshoot whether it gets in or not.

    i use a padded gig bag inside an skb bass safe with one of those big twist wraps around the handle to hold the two halves together because the locks suck (you can also sub out velcro wraps or bungee cords for the twist wrap). in 5 years of using one at least 2x a month, i have yet to get even a scratch on any of my basses. i mark it fraglie very plainly, and despite the fact that they throw most bags, a lot of those airline guys also play guitar and bass and have a little respect for it, so if they throw it, i haven't seen it. as a matter of fact, i've seen them handle my bass a lot and i've yet to see anyone throw it or mistreat it. i've gotten way more damage from the idiot who puts a 50 lb. carryon bag on top of it than i ever have from checking it. any ata approved case will work, but i use a bass safe because it's light, cheap, and ata approved.

    btw, unbolting the neck...bad idea, unless you like doing a complete setup to your bass every time you fly.
     
  13. Jim Carr is my hero. This has been discussed TO DEATH and is easily searchable.
     
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    welcome to talkbass.
     
  15. bobwhite

    bobwhite

    Mar 11, 2010
    Can you still just buy a seat for your instrument?
     
  16. Gah! this is exactly what I'm afraid of. This is also why I'm not bringing my MIA P-bass and instead bringing my heavily modded Squier J-bass.
     
  17. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    I've experienced the pre-boarding measurement denial as well, and that was a tough lesson. The next time I flew, I did unbolt my Jazz Bass and carried it on. I was prepared with my handy-dandy set-up kit, but after I re-bolted it all back together, it barely needed a tweak.

    Maybe I was just lucky, but If I was the OP, and my bass had been with me for 35 years, I'd much rather deal with a 30 minute set-up than the risk of having my old friend damaged, lost, or stolen.

    I guess it boils down to what you're comfortable with, and works for you. Good luck, LJ!
     
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    you can, but it's overkill for electric bass. it's mostly cello and upright players who do that. i once met bluegrass great todd philips at hartford airport, and that's what he does.

    btw, the idea of bringing a beater electric for flights is a great one, and one i used to do. but now, believe it or not, i trust the airlines. i have not had a single bit of trouble checking my bass in almost 5 years. so while i may not take my 76 precision on flights, i will take my p lyte.
     
  19. garmenteros

    garmenteros Bass Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    Dominican Republic
    Haven't had any problems flying with my basses... I've flown Santo Domingo Miami at least twice with basses in gig bags with no issues. I always call the airline first and they say instruments are OK, they go in the closet... I do pad them like hell with cotton underwear and then bubble wrap. I tape it all up too.
     
  20. javier69

    javier69

    Mar 6, 2008
    I do this too and never ahd any problem... just look for the closet as soon as you pass in the plane door, look to the right and you'll see the closet door... or ask to the fly attendant
     

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