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How to travel by air with bass?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by phephron, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. phephron

    phephron Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    I live in Florida and am going back to San Diego for a reunion this summer - our old high school band is going to be playing for it... 30 something years ago.... I would love to take one of my basses rather than get a rental, but sure don't want the airlines wrecking it.. Can you put the case where they hang the clothes up front, or do you have to check the guitar? I don't think you can buy a seat because there is no way it would fit in the space for the seat... How do the guys that travel regularly do it?

    Thanks for the help...

  2. littlezak


    Mar 4, 2007
    Didn't the guitarist from Yes use to buy a seat just for his guitar? I wouldn't take it with you cause its very likely it'll get damaged.
  3. lowfreqfreak


    Jul 1, 2001
    Endorsing Artist: Warwick Basses, GHS Strings
    If you have a heavy duty road case, you should be fine. Pack some bath towels (or bubblewrap if ya got it) all around your bass and you should be fine. Just make sure your case is rugged. The airline cargo guys don't give a **** about your stuff and they WILL throw it around. I took my brand new Warwick to London this June and it was fine. The case was really banged up and scraped up, but the bass was just fine. I've flown around the states with an older bass in a typical "tolex-ish" hardcase and didnt have any problems either. But if I were you, I'd play it safe, and get a rugged case.
  4. mr pablo

    mr pablo

    Oct 22, 2007
    Fife, Scotland
    check with whatever airline you will be travelling with as British Airways will let you take it on board (in where the jackets get kept) if your flying business class IIRC
  5. +1 on checking with the airline - they might be cool about it. I personally travel with a P-Bass Junior (a mini Fender) which fits in the up top bins and I never have a problem. When I take a full sized bass, I usually check it in with a hard shell case. After several flights, my cases have seen some wear, but the instruments have been fine.
  6. Phrogie


    Dec 26, 2006
    LI, NY
    Another alternative is to ship to yourself if you know where you're going to be staying (if you're staying in a hotel, call them and ask them how it should be addressed)... and if you FedEx it, you can have them ship to a FedEx Kinko's location and have the HOLD it for you there.

    There airlines may not care about your stuff... but the shipping companies put a guarantee on their services (and if you put down how much the bass is worth, they'll reimburse you on that off-chance that something goes wrong) so they -have- to care about your stuff.
  7. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Years ago I always carried it on and hung it in the closet. Now I use the SKB Bass safe. Put the bass in a gig bag and then into the Bass Safe.

    Do a search for Bass Safe and you'll find some info there.
  8. deekay911

    deekay911 Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2007
    Charleston SC
    Get a proper flight safe hard case and put it in the hold, or use a soft gig bag and *most* airlines will let you put it in the cabin closet, even if you are flying economy. I have taken probably 20 transatlantic flights between US and UK, and several internal US flights with a gig bag and never had it refused in the cabin yet - many of those flights after 911. All the transatlantic flights were with British Airways, some business class, some economy, so it may vary by airline, so always best to call ahead and check.
  9. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Do a search here for "airplane", there are about SEVEN recent threads with some real, first hand recent experiences and excellent suggestions on how to handle this.
  10. lots of padding is not always the key. If the case is **** it will get wrecked. Baggage handlers are rough
  11. Drkwdsman@yahoo

    Drkwdsman@yahoo Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2004
    Get Insurance!!!!
  12. Seussbass


    Dec 14, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    About two months ago I flew from England to Canada and I managed to get away with putting my fretless into the overhead storage. There were no problems with it fitting and there was no danger of any damage being done.

    It all worked out perfectly.
  13. LOVED the pbass jr. i was kinda shocked that it didnt catch on a little better. i would have liked a 30" scale as opposed to the 28-and whatever fraction of an inch. but man, for a small bass, it had full force pbass rumble.

    as far as travel goes, i adhere STRICTLY to one saying: "there are two types of luggage, carry-on and lost."

    if you care about your bass and have even the tiniest bit of hesitation after talking with the airline (get names, talk to supervisors and security etc so you can go in there and raise hell if the screws at the checkpoints stop you) then you simply shouldn't check it because if something happens boy you'll be a wreck...

    ...rip schecter stilletto. snapped in half while in a very tough hard case checked on a southwest airlines flight to dallas. the case had a huge crack in it, too. like someone either jumped on it or put something extremely heavy on it.
  14. phephron

    phephron Supporting Member

    May 5, 2004
    Thanks for all the replies. I will check with the airlines. If I use my good SKB hardshell, it would probably be OK checked, but if use a gigbag, it would fit in the overhead... probably safer there, and I could monitor people trying to mash all their oversized luggage in there with the bass...

    Shipping it out there is an interesting idea as well. Did not think about that option...
  15. Janek has a good thread on this.
  16. theshadow2001


    Jun 17, 2004
    has anyone had an airline say its ok to bring the bass to you over the phone and then completely go back on that statement at the terminal?
  17. Lonnybass


    Jul 19, 2000
    San Diego
    Endorsing Artist: Pedulla Basses
    Just ship it to yourself and insure it as a high-value item (maybe $30 each way). Provided a UPS rep does the boxing up under your supervision, the bass won't touch a conveyor belt the entire way and will be given a little extra lovin' care all the way there.

    This is how I shipped a bass down to Arizona to play at my wedding and it worked like a charm.

  18. Vic Winters

    Vic Winters Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2006
    Rochester, NY
    Just an idea...

    Buy an SX, have it it shipped to a fellow TBer in San Diego, have them set it up, pick it up, play it at the reunion, then sell it to the fellow TBer for a a good price.
  19. Borrow a fellow TB'ers bass? :)
  20. 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
    Oh my, another flying my bass thread...

    I've flown a few dozen times with an electric bass during the last 3 years. Here is what I believe (YMMV):

    1) Get a full ATA road case or one of the SKB "golf bag carrier" style cases if you might possibly ever travel again with a bass, if not, ship it FedEx Air. Not cheap, though, and they put the value of the instrument on the airbill attached to the box, so shipping your custom bass is scary, as every goof that touches it see's that it is worth $XXXX.00!

    2) Get insurance--real instrument insurance, not homeowners or renters insurance.

    3) No, you can't carry on, except sometimes you can.

    4) No, you can't put it in the forward coat closet, except sometimes you can.

    5) No, a regular hardshell case will not provide much protection.

    6) Arrive 2 hours in advance of your flight. Expect TSA to act like you are traveling with a firearm (OK, it's their job).

    7) If you show up with your bass in a gig bag, you are begging for heartbreak (and other kinds of BREAK).

    8) Call the airlines all you want, it is a total waste of your time.

    9) Read the Airlines baggage policies and rules all day long, and then forget them, because you have no rights at all once they have your money and your instrument.

    10) Don't be an idiot and paint your road case Olive Drab, like some people I know....:D :D :D

    Here is how I do it:


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