Time to Fly

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by jazzbo, Apr 17, 2001.

  1. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Okay, the time has come (this Sunday) for me to fly to Houston, TX, Phoenix, AZ and Columbus, OH for business. I'll be gone for almost 5 weeks. I shall be bringing my trusted bass, as nights in the hotels are pretty boring. So I have some questions for anyone who has traveled with their bass before.

    I won't let them "check it in," so:

    • How do I get it through the metal detector thing-a-ma-bobber without security flipping out, and forcing me to check it in?
    • How do I get it past the gate, onto the plane, without the check-in people giving birth to a cow and pronouncing me evil?
    • How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
    • What's the best place to keep it on the plane for safety?

    Thank you to all my brothers and sisters in bass!
  2. Unless you have a very small bass or you buy a seat(!) for it you're probably SOL. Most of the airlines won't let you carry something that big on regardless of what it is. I've done a lot of travelling with bands and I've found that it's pretty much impossible to get past them with that kind of stuff. Of course, if you know someone you might be able to do it. Barring that, they'll flag you down at the check-in counter. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, you will probably have to check it. If you do here's a few tips: Use a hardshell case (d'uh). Wrap duct tape (or airline packing tape) around your case to cover latches and hinges. Detune the bass to relieve tension, because the strings will contract when it gets cold in the baggage compartment. Let it sit in the case for a couple of hours after you land so that the temperature comes back up slowly, and carry whatever tools you need to adjust truss rods, etc. If it's any comfort, I've done several hundred flights with a lot of band gear and have only had something damaged once. The airline paid for it too. They say they aren't responsible for damage but when push comes to shove they'll usually pay the bill. Hope this was of some help. Although I do hope you're able to find a way to get it in the cabin! :D Be sly, be very sly:p

    About 3 cords a day for a full grown, able bodied woodchuck.
  3. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    You're taking your BB with you!?! Quick, go buy a cheap Steinberger from MusicYo - it's easy to get one on-board as a carryon in a gig bag.
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    In the past. I've called them up well ahead of time, (days), and asked to speak to a service supervisor and tell them about my intentions. I particularly point out that they don't need to talk to me about checking it and having ample insurance. The only way they can truly replace a couple of mine is to provide me with a time machine, and I haven't heard about that service any time soon.

    Then, I get to the desk, well ahead of time, (hours), and tell them about who I spoke to in advance on the phone, mentioning name, title, time, day, and cleared it with.

    Onboard, the closet between coach and first class is fine for me, (I reserve early and get an aisle seat near it).

    I was on a flight in Dec. of last year, and this guy had an entire PC, monitor and all, in some kind of verrtical bag, like a gig bag. Evidently, this guy had some kind of irreplaceable, Beta test, stuff on it. He refused to check it when the onboard TWA attendant told him he had to go back to the desk and check it. He refused and she told him to get with another flight on another airline. He explained his situation to her once he stopped having a coronary and he kept it in the storage closet.

    I've seen guitars on that conveyor thingie going to the jet's belly. Those guys seem to enjoy seeing how hard they can make them land on the belt, IF they land on the belt.
  5. oddentity

    oddentity Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    I've only taken my bass on a flight once from Boston to Philly, and it went very smoothly... I think it was USAirways.

    I simply used a gig bag and carried it on to the plane. I put it through the X-ray machine like any other piece of carryon luggage. The security guy was really cool; he told me his brother was a bass player.

    In retrospect, I was stupid to do this, but I didn't ask the airline about carrying on an unusual item -- I simply walked onto the plane with it. The bass laid perfectly flat at the bottom of the overhead storage compartment, so it didn't obstruct any of the other passengers' use of the compartment for their carryons.

    This was four or five years ago, though, and I wonder if the recent beefing up of airport security might make things a little more difficult. If I were you I'd call the airline beforehand...
  6. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    I've always just showed up with the bass in a good gig bag (actually two basses in a double gig bag) and walked on the plane. The security check point is no sweat, just set it on the x-ray conveyor and - whoosh - through it goes. I've only missed one flight because they were full and there was no room in the overhead bins, and one other time I got off a flight and the flight attendant started to give me lip about it....the wench followed me into the terminal yapping at me :rolleyes: Guess she forgot her Midol that trip! :p

    That said, I'm about to start traveling a LOT, and some of it internationally (the gig is getting interesting to say the least :D), and I'm finally going to bite the bullet and purchase flight cases for my babies. I've been informed that while getting away with that on domestic flights is pretty easy, it's basically impossible on international flights. No sense taking chances, so here come the coffins. Even if a baggage handler can toss one of those things (unlikely, they're HEAVY), it's not likely any harm will come to the contents. Now I just gotta get around the baggage limits, it's usually 2 bags per passenger included in the airfare, I'll have 3 cases (fretted, fretless, and EUB) and one suitcase.
  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    one word. carry on gig bag.

    okay 4 words.

    you should have no problem carrying on you bass - i regularly lug a double gig bag full-o'conklins on and all but the smallest planes can handle it in the over head. those, i ask the stewardess, nice and sweetly, if she can put it in the coat closet.

    haven't been turned down yet.

    you can also gate check it, where they take it from you at the gate as you get on the plane, and put it in the luggage compartment, on top of all the other stuff. then they give it to you as you step off the plane. that's how i travel with my doubleneck.
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    You guys are awesome. Thanks for all the tips. I contacted a customer service supervisor at United (the airline I'm flying with) and talked to him about it. I told him that my bass was essentially irreplacable, very old and worth a lot of money (a lie). He stated that they have a policy for "violions and guitars" that allows them to be carried on, and they're usually kept in the coat closet. He stated that if the flight is abnormally full then they cannot accommodate (good lord!) but otherwise they do accept them on board.

    You guys answered my other question already, which was whether to bring it in my hardshell case (heavier than s**t), or to bring my gig bag. It shall be the gig bag then. That is extremely helpful for running through all my connecting flights too.
  9. WOW! I see what's going on here. In the States you actually have airline competition! So the airlines will bend a little more. In Canada, Air Canada is basically the only game in town and they have serious monopoly syndrome. I asked to carry on a priceless 50's Martin acoustic and they basically laughed at me and said I would have to buy a seat for it. This was a band SPONSORED by Air Canada. Competition is a good thing. Jazzbo, I'm happy that you'll be able to carry your bass on!
  10. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Ha ha! I'm in Houston right now! I walked on with the bass in my gig bag. I asked the sexy stew (in better terms than that) if she had a "special place" for my instrument, and.... You know what, that sounds worse than it is. I asked her where I could put my bass, and she let me put it in the back of the plane behind the last row of seats, that don't recline. I force fed her $10, easier said than done, and was a happy gent. Cool. Now I can play my bass all night at the hotel.
  11. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Cool, glad to hear it worked out for you man! :D

    Continued good luck...