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Call America West and tell them to allow guitars as carry-on

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

  1. JimmyM


    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 http://www.americawest.com/contact/ps_email.asp 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. you should have flown suncountry...my girlfriend was allowed to take her acoustic guitar as a carry-on when she flew from minneapolis to phoenix.
  3. I just had a funny vision of somebody trying to get an upright bass in as carry on.

    Yeah if you can't take the guitar or bass in a gigbag as carry on then there is a serious danger of damage to the instruments.

    The only reason I can think of of not letting someone take them as carry on is if some idiot decided to start playing during the flight.
  4. bassmonkeee


    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    How about the fact that if a guitar or bass is in the overhead bin, then no one else's stuff will fit in there?

    I have no problem with the policy, honestly. Overhead bins aren't getting any bigger, and they aren't meant to be used by one passenger. Just because I am also a bass player doesn't make me think it's any less rude to monopolize an overhead bin just because you have to take a bass with you on a flight.

    Sorry. There are stated sizes for carry-on baggage. Under no circumstances will a bass ever fit those dimensions. Buy a flight case, or one of those gigbag cases that SKB makes so it can safely go in the luggage hold with the rest of the luggage.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    First off, I NEVER monopolize a bin. I quite often move my bass around to accomodate other people's bags in the bin. Some idiot flight attendant tried to accuse me of that once, and I showed him how nobody else has a problem putting their stuff in the bin as long as they don't put it directly on top of my bass. Then I told him to go away and stop checking me out ;)

    Secondly, I would sooner not play the gig than try to lug my bass around in a flight case through a big airport.

    There has never been a case of anyone not being able to stow their luggage as a result of me using an overhead bin for my bass. It all evens out. Some come in with a bass, some come in with nothing. Besides, what if they lose my bass? Then I get to the gig and I'm screwed.

    The vast majority of airlines don't have a problem with it. Why do you?
  6. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I haven't done much flying-2 or 3 trips total [round trips]. We flew IIRC, Delta and ATA. They where both flown outta Indy International-one flew into Ft. Lauderdale [via a connecting flight in either Memphis or Nashville], and the other flew to Orlando [i don't think there was a connecting flight that time].

    I packed the basses-first time [Ft. Lauderdale] was a DeArmond Pilot Plus 5-yeah, cheap bass, in an SKB Deluxe Case and just had the bass wrapped in bubble wrap w/duct tape on the latches. It arrived fine.

    The second time-it was my StingRay5, also in an SKB case. i did the saaame procedure, and the only catch: when we got down there, i had to go to their "special claims area"-the lady said [i dunno if she was joking or not] "we thought it was a weapon". Yep, the case that says MUSICMAN and has a bass guitar in it-is a weapon, of sonic destruction.

    There was a letter-i got the link from here that said something about musicians being allowed to carry on the guitars/basses as long as space permitted.

    That really bites that they gave you attitude-i would definately NOT want to fly that airline again, especially if they have a policy against it.

    The procedure that i have heard people use is go up to the lady as soon as you get there and talk to them about it.

    Good Luck. If i ever get into flying more often-either a "kill my back" flight case or an SKB Bass Vault [more than likely the bass vault-i've got a good Gig Bag now].

    When flying w/a DB-it's good luck. I don't know many people who fly w/a DB as it would be ungodly high on the over size charges-i'm sure members of the DB side of the board would share the enlightenment on that part. For some reason-i think of the Czech Ease Upright or the Eminence w/the removable neck.

    That's all
  7. Jason Carota

    Jason Carota

    Mar 1, 2002
    Lowell, MA
    If the America West customer service rep in Phoenix said they have a policy against guitars, I don't see a problem with the flight attendent telling someone that they had to put their instrument in baggage.

    Now if that is their policy, and you tried to argue with Dave about it, who is being more rude? I am sure Dave did not set the policy. How many times a week do you think Dave has to put up with people trying to do something against company policy? It probably wears on him a little and you just got the brunt of it.

    If you have a problem with America West's guitar policy, why not just give your money to another airline that allows guitars in the overhead?

    I am not trying to call you out, just trying to shed a different light on the subject.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    You know what? I don't care what Dave has to go through in a week. We all have to perform our jobs and if we don't like our jobs we shouldn't take it out on the people paying our salaries.

    And the reason that I took it out on Dave is that I was extremely nice about it at first, trying to work out a solution with him. He completely and rudely refused, and quite frankly, he was a jerk to a lot of people on the flight, including many in my group. Besides, on the return flight, they let me carry it on, even though we were in an identical plane as before, and it fit just fine and nobody cared. So I appreciate what you're saying, but F Dave.

    BTW, most people who work for airlines never say a word about my bass, and very rarely am I stopped. When I am stopped, they usually let me stick it in a closet unless they're full. Now and then I get a jerk, but I am almost always allowed to stick it in overhead or in a closet unless it doesn't fit the bins. What difference is it to the airline? It's not like someone else can't find space to carry on their stuff.
  9. purfektstranger


    Apr 10, 2003
    I will probably be Mr Unpopular but IMHO airlines should ban suitcases, guitars and any other objects that measure larger than say 20 - 24 inches in length. I took a flight yesterday and most of the bins were occupied by suitcases and other assorted large boxes. Not only does it take up space from others, it slows down the whole process of loading and unloading passengers. While they are at it, ban laptops as well. They are a security risk not to mention very annoying when the guy sitting beside you types 120 word per minute for three hours straight and you didn't bring your discman.
  10. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    I flew America West last week and they still have the no guitars/basses policy in place. In fact, some of the gates at the Phoenix terminal had signs with guitars with slashes through them.

    I asked one of the gate attendents and he said the policy had been in place a long time and hadn't been enforced, but they had changed that and were strongly enforcing it now.

    They were also being exceptionally strict on what constituted a personal item and total item count. It was very disappointing to see one guy walk on with two *huge* bags and be fine, but the next lady get hassled because she had a purse, small bag and small pillow. She had to stuff the pillow into her little bag in order to get on the plane.

    I won't be flying them again if I have other options.
  11. bassman314

    bassman314 I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process...

    Mar 13, 2005
    Bay Area, CA
    I've flown ATA, Northwest, Alaska, and US Air without any issues. If it's a full flight, they'll let you stick it in the closet where people stick suit bags. A gigbag ain't that much wider than a some of those suit bags!!

    A friend of mine was forced to check her Takamine Classical. It said "Fragile, Hand-carry" on it on a BRIGHT orange sticker. They stuck it on the cart, and sent it out the normal baggage check. She heard it shatter when it came sliding down the baggage check.

    The Airline told her that she gets $200 for it. $200 for a several thousand dollar guitar.. And it was the airline's fault. oh.. and she needed it that night for a gig.
  12. wyliee


    Jul 6, 2003
    South Hill, WA
    I checked with America West about using the coat closet and they have removed them from their planes. Alaska has done the same on some routes, which I learned the hard way. They can add another row of seats that way.

    Sometimes I'll put my bass in my SKB Golf Club Staff Case, but it can be a little bulky and unweildy in busy airports. I guess I'll be using it more often.
  13. kegbarnacle


    Nov 18, 2003
    I travel all the time for work and have had good and bad experiences on every airline out there. I don't really have a problem with basses on planes. Most of the overheads are sloped in the back, and a bass turned up to follow the slope will allow bags in front of it. You'd be in the wrong if you expect it to have it's own space from end to end. Then you are taking up a disproportionate amount of overhead.

    I hate rollerbags. You can't put anything around them. If a plane fits 100 people, the first 50 rollerbags will take all the overhead space, and the other 50 people get to gate check their carry ons.

    It's not so bad though, on one flight a few weeks ago, a woman had a guitar in a hardshell case, and they told her at security that she'd never get it on the plane. She was in tears, because she had actually purchased a seat for it.
  14. The Nanny

    The Nanny

    Dec 23, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    I work for a government's aviation safety regulator...I can tell you that in general, there are substantial safety reasons for limiting carry-on baggage. Now, individual airlines may have policies that go beyond the minimum safety requirements. But please understand that airline safety is a very very complex world, and a balance between convenience/comfort, and getting everybody to the destination alive and well. Rudeness of staff aside, there is some method to the madness. Since aviation safety is not a major problem in the western world anymore (not to be confused with security), it is easy to forget the little compromises that have to happen to keep a good record. Limitations on size/weight/shape of carry-on baggage is part of the equation.
  15. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    I used to fly a lot--maybe 40,000 to 60,000 miles per year--with a bass in a gig bag and never had a problem or hassle carrying it on board. This was mostly on American Airlines, a few times on Northwest, and maybe once or twice on Continental and Delta. I never hogged the overheads (unlike some folks with big "carry-on" suitcases).

    If that's America West's policy, it sucks. I'd complain and take my business to another airline and tell AW why.

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