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Flying with your bass?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by Mesa XI, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Mesa XI

    Mesa XI

    Feb 25, 2009
    I wasn't sure what forum to put this in.

    I moved to Denver a while back and I'm thinking of flying back to Chicago in February to play a show with my drummer. I would like to travel with my full pedal board and a single bass. I do not want to check my instrument, is that possible?
  2. It is possible but you have to check with the airline.... done a small search for you. Important is to be extremely nice when booking/asking/checking in. Depends on the plane overhead dimensions, and/or on whether the cabin crew "closet" has space. For cabin crew closet, that's where charm and asking nicely really helps.

    American Airlines
    Musical Instruments
    Small musical instruments may be carried onboard the aircraft providing they meet existing carry-on size requirements and fit in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you. Case dimensions may not exceed 45 dimensional inches (width + length + height), except for guitars which may be brought on board only if they can be safely stowed in an overhead bin or approved stowage location in the cabin. The instrument is considered the passenger's one allowed carry-on bag. A personal item is allowed in addition to the instrument. See Carry-On Allowance for more information.

    If an instrument is too large to fit in the carry-on baggage space, an additional seat may be purchased. In this case, an instrument must travel in a window, bulkhead seat, with the customer in the adjoining seat. Due to their size Bass Fiddles are not accepted in the Main Cabin and are only accepted on certain aircraft types, please contact an American Airlines representative.

    Instruments may also be transported as checked baggage, however, due to their fragile nature AA does not accept liability for damages and has limited liability for loss. AA is also not liable for any damage to checked musical instruments not presented in a hard-sided case. If the outside of the hard-sided case does not have visible damage, AA is not liable for any damage to the musical instrument inside the case.

    United Airlines
    - Musical instruments

    Musical instruments can be carried on board or checked as baggage. If necessary, a seat can also be purchased for an instrument.

    Carried on board

    A small musical instrument can be carried on as a personal item. If the musical instrument appears too large or irregularly shaped to fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment, it will not be accepted for in cabin stowage.

    Checked as baggage

    Instrument should be in a hard shell case to protect it during normal handling.
    Excess charges apply if checking more than the baggage allowance.
    Oversize charges apply to musical instruments that measure 90 - 115 linear inches.
    Overweight charges apply to musical instruments that are over 50 pounds.
    Musical instruments over 70 pounds will not be accepted.
    If the instrument is over 115 linear inches, contact United Reservations.

    In addition to the above polices, stringed instruments should have the strings loosened to protect the neck from damage due to expansion and contraction which result from temperature variations.

    Cabin-seat baggage

    United will allow a customer to purchase a ticket for a musical instrument which is too fragile or bulky to be handled as checked baggage. Upright basses and will not be accepted as cabin-seat baggage.

    Excess Valuation may not be purchased for musical instruments.
  3. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
    Fly Southwest into Midway. I've never had a problem flying two basses in a double gig bag into there. It's worth paying the $15 each way for Early Bird Check-in to get a low boarding #.
  4. QORC


    Aug 22, 2003
    Elberon, New Jersey
    We fly quite a bit as a band. I bought a very very highly quality padded gig bag that carries two basses. 90% of the time, they have allowed me to put it into the overhead bin (and yeah it takes up two bins) or in the front "closet". Only a few times have I been asked to gate check the instruments at the door. i would never put them through regular baggage. too risky, in my opinion.

    As long as you go up nicely at the gate and ask, they are almost always accommodating UNLESS it's a full flight. We have usually gone up as a group of 3 (the 2 guitarists and me) and asked nicely if we could board early and put these into overheard. They have almost always said yes.
  5. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    You can also guarantee passage by buying a second seat for your bass and pedalboard. On some flights this is actually cheaper than paying for odd-sized or overweight checked baggage.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I have had great luck by calling the airline ahead of time and letting them know that I will be flying with my bass. They can look up the type of plane you will be on and check the size of the over head bins. Planes also have a coat closet at the front of the plane where you can stand the bass upright.
  7. Roy Vogt

    Roy Vogt

    Sep 20, 2000
    Endorsing Artist: Kiesel, Carvin, Accuracy, Hotwire, Conklin Basses, DNA, Eden
  8. Unbolt a body.... Put this and your pedals in your checked in suitcase (or leave pedals at home)

    Carry on the neck

    I had years with 000000000s of airline miles- this was thmost successful method
  9. Mesa XI

    Mesa XI

    Feb 25, 2009
    I play a neck-through :meh:

    I've had offers from friends back home to use their equipment, but I'm very particular about playing my instruments and the songs really call for a particular tone / action / string type.

    Thanks everyone for the advice, I'll certainly be calling the airlines before I make any decisions. I do have a nice Star case that's built like a tank if it comes down to it.
  10. I travel for a living, and I carry an electric guitar everywhere I go. When I started out, I used to ask the gate agent if I could board early to find a place to store the guitar, and they almost always did let me board with the people who need more time. They also usually put the guitar in the closet for me.

    I had lots of trouble with US Air, but most of the rest of the airlines were pretty good.

    My guitar has 500,000 miles on it. I've taken it to every state except the Dakota's and Alaska, 8 Canadian provinces, Mexico, the Caribbean and the arctic. So far, not a scratch!
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