How necessary is a TSA/ATA approved flight case compared to a standard hard case?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by SlapPopBass, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. I'm gonna board a plane to Asia in a couple months. I'll likely be bringing an instrument back, so I'm going to bring an empty case with me on the initial trip to. Currently I own one of these hard cases:

    I plan to simply check in my bass, as I would like to avoid the whole arguing with TSA/flight attendants thing entirely and save me the time and trouble of trying to find space in overhead compartments. This is not my first flight to Asia, and there are many connecting flights, and not necessarily enough time for early check ins. These flights are also always pretty packed.

    My question now at this point, is it practical for me to splurge $150-$300 on a whole new case or will my current one suffice?
    TolerancEJ and Jimbo Edwards like this.
  2. James Willie

    James Willie Serious Business

    Jul 29, 2016
    Lake Texoma
    I watched this video about traveling across US Borders with guitars.
    Very technical, lawyer stuff. Might interest you.

  3. TSA/ATA must be able to open your packages to inspect them. TSA locks are numbered to correspond with master keys the security inspectors hold. If they cannot open the lock, they are entitled to cut open your luggage or instrument using any means.

    When the new TSA rules came into effect, my wife and I still had an old lock for the luggage. Instead of cutting the lock off, they cut the zipper itself which made the luggage useless going forward. We only realized when we found our luggage on the carousel and there was nothing we could do about it.
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Get the ATA/TSA case. Not only does it mean that the TSA won't bust open your gear cases irreparably (though on occasion they've been known to bust it open anyway, no matter the TSA friendly locks on board)...

    ...when someone smashes your instrument in handling you'll at least be able to say that it was their fault since you had a ATA rated case and have a chance to get some kind of consideration.
    TolerancEJ and Jimbo Edwards like this.
  5. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    Conveyor systems at airports are brutal. Baggage handlers won't care about your sweet new bass. Err on the side of caution.:woot:
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I flew Jet Blue to Boston and Frotier back. Oddly enough, there were bass players on both flights. They stuck their gig bags in the overhead with no issues. I don't know if they paid extra or anything. I didn't have time to say anything other than "Hey" in the isle.
  7. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Last year I bought a Steinberger Spirit 5 string...and did just this for an international gig. The bass fit in the overhead in front of all the packed luggage. Our guitarist brought his in a hard case and gate-checked it no matter how much they tried to make him check it at the checking/luggage entry point. It worked fine too. I'd rather be able to carry it on the plane directly, myself. Also since people on the plane noticed it was 'something' out of the ordinary, when the compartments opened at the end of the flight, they took it and handed it to me directly.
    two fingers likes this.
  8. Whippet


    Aug 30, 2014
    flying international vs national is not the same thing at all. You need to call them up and ask for the information that's in fine print.

    Then you have to make the decision to carry onboard or check the instrument. No matter which you take, you'll either get caught at the check in or security checkpoint. If you can get by both places, then you'll have to deal with the flight attendants.

    I fly a lot. And airports around the world are becoming more and more hostile to objects that are bigger than a carry on. Now security is starting to act like the pawns for the airlines and question how big your instruments are. In Narita, they actually called Qatar on the phone to check if I could bring in my stand for the upright bass, which was 65 cm long in a cardboard packaging. The actual stand was 60cm. They had no choice but to let me through the security when I took it out and they measured it next to the xray machine. This isn't just Narita. It's becoming normal everywhere. Paris, Geneva, Rio, etc etc etc.

    It's understandable since more and more people are traveling with a larger handbaggage. People in Eastern Europe literally travel with their entire household belongings. It's crazy. I figure the more WE bend the rules, the more rules they apply onto us. Soon it will be one item and anymore, you will have to pay on every single flight on any airline, anywhere in the world.

    That said, I would get a hard ABS or polymer case with TSA lock for Asia . I've done it with a Mono and Reunion Blues Continental but going to an emerging market country, they will be brutal. I would never use a soft case going through Turkey. Trust me. It's a crap hole. Everyone I know of that has gone through Ataturk said the same thing. They literally want to destroy your stuff. The idiots there are bitter about people who have instruments. Just think bungholes with an attitude. Luggage with a nice comfortable handle. Something break worthy. Bad day, bad week, bad life as a pee on worker for life. Let me make someone else miserable. You get the picture.

    That's my take. You would wing it. Take a chance. Get away with it. It's a fun gamble.

    JFYI, I believe those Ernie Balls are not much different from the Ibanez Prestige cases. They crack under stress. They are more brittle than you think.