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Flying with a Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by paperbag1213, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    I am leaving for Boston soon for Berklee Music from
    Los Angeles...My bass is going to be checked onto
    the plane and will be in a hardcase, but I have heard
    horror stories about flying with a bass. I remember
    reading about a list that you would tape onto your bass
    telling the TSA how to properly care for it. Does anyone
    happen to have that? If not could you post some tips
    so that I can create a sheet of directions so that my bass
    does get harmed.


  2. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    1. ) Please refrain from opening the case if possible
    2.) Please do not attempt to open the instrument itself
    3.) Please do not put the bass on any conveyor belt, it will fall off.
    4.) If you must open the case please reattach all of the straps holding it in. And please remember to re-do all of the latches.
    5.) Please be aware of the bass’s size when driving it out to the plane.
    6.) If possible please do not load any baggage on top of the case.

    I am attaching this list to the hard case, does anyone have anything else to add?
  3. That sounds like a good list; what does your teacher think? Have you contacted anyone with Berklee about this (though I'm sure that plenty of people there read this...)?

    Keep in mind that I'm no expert with air travel and checked baggage. I always just carry everything with me when I travel.

    Hope this is some help, and good luck at Berklee! This is a great city for music and the arts in general.

  4. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    thank you, Please bass gods just let my bass fly safely.
  5. flyingfinbar

    flyingfinbar Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2010
    Long Island, New York
    You could try having it shipped there, instead of leaving it in the hands of the careless TSA employees.
  6. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    If i did that I'd have to ship it a week earlier and then I'd have a week less to practice my audition piece
  7. fuzzythecat


    Dec 4, 2010
    not for the airport personel, more for you, but, i read somewhere you're supposed to loosen your strings before flying because the air pressure some how screws with the strings, don't know if it's true
  8. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    hmm i'll ask around but that seems like it could lead to the bass bar falling out...
  9. robinunit

    robinunit Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2010
    i think they deal with a quite a few double bass players with hard cases and in my experience flying in and out of boston with my bass it has been good. When they check out the bass at TSA if possible just try to stay within eye sight of what they're doing. Also don't loosen the strings too much. have fun
  10. Yeah, I've heard that the air pressure (or something along those lines) can mess with the neck and/or truss rod and that loosening the strings helps to prevent this. However, I've only heard that in relation to bass guitars - I'm not sure that the same still applies to a DB.
  11. If the airplane has a closet, they will let u bring it on board and stow it there for flight. Usually the larger planes have them.
  12. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    American Airlines today me that under
    no circumstances i was allowed to bring
    the bass on the plane. Ughh...this is not
    an ideal situation but I guess it has to
  13. themacinator

    themacinator Always looking for the perfect gig

    Oct 8, 2009
    8,600 feet in the Colorado Rockies
    Endorsing Artist: Babicz FCH Hardware
    Do you have a flight case or just a standard hard case? Or worse yet a gig bag. I have flown with my bass but always in a flight case. It generally gets separated from the other bags because they don't know if it has a bass or a gun in it.





    Yes gun flight cases look the same. Get a flight case and you should have no concerns.
  14. robinunit

    robinunit Supporting Member

    Aug 9, 2010
    wrong side of the tracks
  15. Just a warning paperbag, you have mostly bass guitar people replying to you in this thread. There's a few threads already that discuss flying with a DB. Read them over:





    Use the search function to find many more.

    In my opinion, your list is too long and detailed to be read by any baggage handler. The best advice I've heard is to try to be present when they screen your bass to make sure it's opened and repacked correctly. Others with more flying experience will hopefully chime in. What kind of flight case do you have?

    Also, check out this page: http://www.isbworldoffice.com/resources/flying_with_your_bass.html
  16. The reason for de-tuning strings has to do with neck tension. In the rare cases where basses are damaged on flights, the most common thing is a broken neck. You need to keep some tension on the strings to keep the bridge and sound post in place, but de-tuning a little bit will improve your odds should the case get dropped.

    You need to delete number 1, certainly. Telling the TSA not to open the case pretty much guarantees it will receive extra attention. Number 2 seems to suggest it could be possible to open the instrument; it's probably best not to bring it up. Number 3 doesn't make any sense -- how else are they supposed to get the thing onto the plane? Number 5 is stating the obvious. Number 6 will be ignored (you have a hard case, right? A little luggage isn't going to hurt anything).

    While I realize both TSA agents and baggage handlers can be ignorant about instruments and they do make mistakes, I don't see your instructions as being particularly helpful, and in fact come across as condescending and perhaps suspicious. They are professionals and deserve at least some level of respect. Courteous and clear instructions regarding how to properly unpack and re-pack the instrument are a good idea. A note asking for extra care when handling along with clear FRAGILE stickers is about the best you can do. Be sure to have your name, phone number, and address clearly written on the front of the case.

    For what it's worth, I have flown my bass many times without incident, and I've never attached instructions or requests to the instrument. When it's possible to be present for the TSA inspection, I try to watch the proceedings and talk them through the packing process should they request it. Very occasionally they will allow me to unpack the bass for them.

    Approaching the flying process with a good attitude and a smile makes things much easier for everyone, including yourself. Everyone involved is a professional, and you should trust that they'll handle your instrument with care until they prove otherwise. Accidents do happen, but they are rare and you needn't worry about that if you have insurance (and you shouldn't be flying an uninsured instrument).

    You can read more about flying with a bass in this thread: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f31/typical-procedure-flying-bass-776267/
  17. paperbag1213


    Feb 12, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Thanks guys

    this is the flight case that I am renting
    TUFF-LITE Upright Bass Cases

    Also...can I bring my electric bass with me on the plane just in a soft case?
  18. Tuff-lite is a very good case and should protect your bass during normal handling. It says on the ISB page that TSA actually encourages you to be present when they inspect your bass, so try to do that.

    Also, Paul's advice about your list is spot-on in my opinion. Arrive early and have a nice trip!
  19. Beginner Bass

    Beginner Bass

    Jul 8, 2009
    Round Rock, TX
    A&R, Soulless Corporation Records
    The Evolving Bassist has a section at the start about flying with basses.
  20. VondaP


    Dec 27, 2009
    I will be flying with a bass flight case (no bass) will it be treated the same as with the bass, as far as the $50 fee?