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!@#$ing TSA!

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by GirlBass, Mar 17, 2006.

  1. GirlBass


    Jul 31, 2005
    New York
    there is nothing worse than flying with a bass! I had to do it yesterday, and not only did TSA open my trunk, they also felt compelled to open the CASE. Of course they didn't know how to do it, so the guy doing the bomb paper test thing leans over my covered bass which was laying down in the open trunk, trying to figure out how to open the case, and proceeds to extend his hand down, place it on the tailpiece, and lean his full weight on it looking for the zipper to open the case. I was H-O-R-R-I-F-I-E-D. I stood behind the "line" screaming at him. Why don't these idiots have any idea what they're doing? Why aren't there any rules allowing musicians to properly secure their instruments in their flight cases??
    Fortunately my bass was ok, but the entire process was traumatizing. They didn't know what they were doing at all, and I had to stand there and watch, trying to tell them what to do, while they're looking at me like I'm a crazy terrorist. I also couldn't pack the bass back up, and of course they didn't secure it properly, and locked one of the locks (it's a gage case) and handed me the key. I had to tell them to go back and get ALL of them about three times before those lazy bastards did.
  2. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    :rolleyes: I hear ya. This is why I do everything in my power to line up basses on the other end whenever I hit the airways.
  3. GirlBass


    Jul 31, 2005
    New York
    normally I would do that, but when the other end involves auditions or masterclasses, or any other high pressure situation that requires you to play in tune it's not really an option :(
  4. We don't have TSA up here in Canuckistan but they're still pretty serious at the airport. However, they've always let me unpack the trunk and gig bag and pack it back up again.

    Last time I flew Air Canada, I checked the trunk as soon as I landed and found that everything in the pockets in the soft bag had been rearranged - so they'd opened it up again, anyway - and some of my stuff was actually missing (nothing big though). So I guess my orchestra mute and a couple pairs of socks got blown up by the bomb squad.

    ... and I know what you're thinking, but they were _clean_ socks.
  5. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Are the security people at the airport in Canada mostly flunkies like they have here? The TSA seemed to take the welfare to work idea serious.:(
  6. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002

    I don't think that everyone in TSA is some stupid random guy. I also don't think that many people (educated people, even) know what the hell a bass (or cello for that matter) is and don't care to. That isn't their fault.

    I have flown my bass about 7 times (a few round trips and to school once) and it isn't the most comfortable thing, but I haven't had any problems. The TSA people that I have had have been very nice and don't mind when I stand there and try to direct them. I try to explain that the bass is expensive and I'm worried about it and they understand.

    When the airport is extra busy, they get stressed and it's hard for us to not get stressed too, but if everyone stays calm it usually turns out fine.

    I have had a TSA guy lean on the bridge of my bass to help himself stand up. It's not that cool, but the bass is built to have some pressure on the top. As unwarranted and scary as is may be (and not the best for it) I'm sure that a little extra pressure now and then wont be that bad.

    Good luck with flying.

    If this sounds angry, it's not supposed to. Just my experience.
  7. Yeah, good point. I can't speak to the TSA question but CDN airport security are the same unionized workers they've always had, just probably a few more of them post-2001.

    I've mostly dealt with airport staff who were pretty good-humoured about dealing with the challenges of schlepping the bass around. Also, unfortunately, a couple of power-tripping bozos. You can't really expect the average person to know how to handle an instrument - so, baggage / security guys either have the interpersonal skills to work with you, or the bad ones will get annoyed because you're making their job difficult.

    I'm sure there are good and bad TSA staff, just as there are good and bad cops, good and bad supermarket cashiers, et cetera, et cetera. (And not everyone on welfare is dumb either.)
  8. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Well I've not had to fly with my bass in many years and my work doesn't require me to fly anymore either. But I've had to do many pickups and drop offs at the airport and from what I've observed at the gates, it doesn't give me much confidence in the security. I've seen the power trip people there too.

    It's totally uncool for those with authority to abuse it and your property.

    And I never said that people on welfare were "dumb". Most I've met could speak.

    Sorry if I've touched a nerve.
  9. Michael Glynn

    Michael Glynn

    Feb 25, 2004
    I remember even in pre-TSA days coming back from Europe with my bass, customs had me take the bass out of the trunk, then out of it's soft case, then they asked me to, "Open it up."

    "Open it up?"
    "Yeah, take it apart"
    "Uh...it doesn't do that."

    They were not all that pleased with my answer and it took some convincing, but eventually they just peeked in the f-holes and had the dog sniff it and moved on.
  10. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    GirlBass: Sorry you had to go through that. I can imagine your horror as you watched a fumble-fingers lean on your endpin. Not a pretty sight ...

    the_other: Canuckistan? That has to be the funniest thing I have read all weekend! :) Thanks for the laugh!

    On a side note: Way before 9-11 (in about 1990), I was flying prisoner exchange for the military, sans sidearm. I got on the plane in North Dakota with my handcuffs, no problem. Went through Minneapolis, no problem. Got to Chicago, big problem. A badge, paperwork, uniform, etc. wasn't enough to convince them that I wasn't going to hijack the plane with handcuffs after takeoff. Imagine that! And the only thing I have had a problem with post 9-11 is a pair of beard-trimming scissors. Tiny, yet a threat? I guess this is the price we pay for security these days. Yikes! Guess it is a good thing that I have never tried to fly with a bass ... ;-D


  11. GirlBass


    Jul 31, 2005
    New York
    it was actually on the tailpiece up by the bridge. it was horrifying, but everything's ok. thanks! I have a problem with freaking out at the airport when they don't know what they're doing with a bass. It's my baby.
    Usually the TSA guys look at me and laugh, since I'm pretty small and my trunk is HUGE, and swipe the openings and that's it. This time was just traumatizing with the opening and the leaning and the onco-ordinated opening of the case. It would be like if I had a baby and they picked it up by the arm and shook at around, not knowing what it was, you know?

    We really need to push for some kind of standardization of air travel, at least in the US, for large instruments. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes I'll go, they'll look at it in horror, tell me I need to take it to cargo and actually LAUGH at me when I ask if it's in walking distance.
    Is there anything we can do??
  12. jazzbassnerd


    Aug 26, 2002
    The only thing that I've seen to do is on the ISB website. There is a place where you can e-mail to be added to a petition about air travel with large instruments. While the petition doesn't have any thing in it about how airlines handle the baggage (to my knowledge), it is for keeping the ability to fly the bass.

    Check it out.
  13. Thank you, but the credit goes to Pat Buchanan ... and that's absolutely all I have to say about that.
  14. JTGale


    Oct 26, 2004
    Hummelstown, PA
    Still smiling! :D

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