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Taking your bass on an international flight

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by _jaxon5, Apr 14, 2015.

  1. Okay, first of all this is my first time flying with my beloved instrument. At first I was thinking of getting a really good padded gigbag/softcase because fellow musicians over here in my country are telling me they allow guitars to be hand-carried inside the plane with you (it's in the lawbooks according to them). But since our airline isn't so great with luggage *coughs* Philippine Airlines *coughs* - I just wanted to be a hundred percent sure so right now I'm looking for a hardcase. Brand new ones can be a pain for my wallet so I've been browsing the local listings and saw a TKL hardcase.

    So my questions are:
    -can this hardcase (pictured below) withstand a 13-hour flight to the States on board a Boeing 777 and still protect my 40-year-old bass?

    -is this brand a really good investment?

    -is it really allowed that I take my bass with me INSIDE the passenger cabin and not the cargo area?

    -anyone who would care to share their experience(s) on air travel with an instrument as bulky as a bass?

    *Php 2,950 roughly equals USD 67
  2. muggsy

    muggsy Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2000
    Alexandria, VA
    You need to check the rules for the particular airline, and bring a copy of the rules to the airport. In the US, most airlines permit you to carry on a bass or guitar in a gig bag if it will fit in an overhead compartment. If the overhead compartments are full, the flight attendants will often let you store the bass in the coat closet at the front of the plane. Being nice can go a long way, though a bit of research will uncover many horror stories about musical instruments damaged during air travel.

    If you bring a bass in a hard case, you guarantee it will be checked as luggage and at the mercy of baggage handlers. I'd never check a 40-year old bass unless it was packed in a heavy duty flight case. A standard hard case like the one you're looking at won't help much if it gets tossed around. My suggestion, check the rules, print out the rules, bring the bass in a gig bag to the airport and hope for the best. Or, better yet, bring a different less valuable bass if that's a possiblity.
  3. Neveragain55


    Mar 19, 2014
    I travel for a living and I take my bass with me on most trips so that I can keep my practice routine up.

    I use this case: Gator ATA Molded PE Bass Case - w/TSA latches | Sweetwater.com

    It's a great case except sometimes when I go to retrieve the case from the luggage area, one of the latches has usually come undone but it's not that big of a deal because it does have the TSA lock on the center latch which keeps everything together nicely.

    I went to a local Joann Fabrics store when I got the case and cut some extra foam custom cut to size for my bass so that it doesn't move around at all, and so far it's been working out great.

    It's a really good, durable case that takes a beating pretty well.

    My bass is always in good shape when we land and still in tune believe it or not........
  4. Dradder


    Feb 7, 2013
    Reno, Nevada
    True, but depending upon the airline, there are different types of "checked as luggage." Which I didn't know until I flew with a bass from JFK to Guayaquil in Ecuador. If I'd had the bass in a gig bag, LAN Airlines would've let me bring it on board the plane. But since it was in a hard case, the counter people instead put a PRIORITY tag on the case handle, which meant that it wasn't placed on the conveyor belt to be piled into the baggage hold with all the rest of the luggage. Instead, it was hand-carried from the counter to a special compartment in the baggage hold, then hand-carried off the plane upon arrival at the destination and placed in the baggage collection area in the terminal. It was sitting there waiting for me before any of the other baggage showed up on the carousel. Not even a scuff on the case. I don't know if other airlines offer this service, but it might be worth trying to find out for the airline you'll be flying.

    Also, to be realistic, getting your gig-bagged instrument into the onboard coat closet is more likely to happen if you're flying first or business class. Might still happen if you're in coach, but no guarantees on that.
  5. I have a flight case, and it is the only way I'd fly with my bass. With the uncertainty of knowing whether it can come in the cabin with you I wouldn't risk it in anything else. I think mine is a Gator brand case, looks like this one except for bass:
    Gator G-TOUR Guitar Case - Single-cutaway Electric Guitar | Sweetwater.com

    It is big. It is heavy. At a lot of airports you have to go to the special "oversized" luggage area to retrieve it. But I always felt more relaxed knowing that my bass was protected.
  6. Sleeq


    Feb 13, 2008
  7. AaronVonRock


    Feb 22, 2013
    I've traveled many times from Thailand to the US and back and have carried my bass on the plane with no problems. The staff at the check-in counter are not the ones to decide if you can take it on board or not. It is up to the sole discretion of the crew at the boarding gate, so don't bother printing out airline regulations and waving those around. Be polite, smile, and ask for permission. I've never had anyone tell me "No". Each time I've taken a bass on the plane, I have used a MONO gig bag and it was stowed in the crew's wardrobe closet. Those closets are quite roomy and very safe.

    Personally, I wouldn't trust a regular hard case to protect my bass on a flight. Those things can splinter and break pretty easily. I would trust those heavy duty flight cases, but those are bulky, heavy, and expensive.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2015

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