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Transporting a bass on an Airplane.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bobbykokinos, Dec 13, 2004.

  1. Hey Guys,

    I gotta question. I'm heading to CA (from Indiana) for New Years for vacation. Also on a quest to find a new Spector 4 String. I've been wanting one for ages. I just love how the body feels and how they play.

    Anyway, Im going to be flying by plane. How safe is it to bring it back in a hardshell case but have it loaded as luggage? Don't know if I want to risk it or not. Opinions?
  2. I can't help you out any, but I was wondering that myself when I was thinking about flying with my GT-7. Decided not to bring it anyway, but I'm still wondering if it'd be safe to fly with.
  3. I have never had a problem bringing 1 bass in a gig bag as carry on luggage. I doubt you'd be able to take a hardshell as carry on, though.
  4. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    with about a million airmiles on the road, i can tell you there is no way you can bring a hardcase on a plane- i traveled with an undercover double gig bag and 99% of the time it was ok in an overhead compartment inside the plane, but there's always that one employee that is not letting you do it. When that happened, i would plead nicely and try to get the pilot to hear my plea... you can always gate check the bass and it will be handed to you as you leave the plane. I gotta go thru the same thing this week when i go to San Fran-
    checking it in a regular case? risky, anything could happen, and the more FRAGILE stickers you put on it, the harder the gorillas that work there will throw it, it seems. I have seen it with my own eyes.
  5. pookeymp


    Oct 16, 2002
    This won't work...because as Adrian stated, the hardshell case definitely won't make it on the plane with you, and if you check it in with luggage, I'd hate to see the condition of the the case, and more importantly, the condition of the bass once you receive it back from the luggage carousel.

    I used to reguarly pack my bass in a gig bag and bring it on the plane with me and keep it in the overhead w/ no problem...but since 9/11, carry-on restrictions are quite a bit tighter now, so my last few trips I had to do a gate check-in. They keep in with the luggage, but in a special handling section, and you get it back as soon as you exit the plane. I still worry about it the entire trip.

    Another option is to purchase a good flight case, insure it well when you check it in, and pray a lot.

  6. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    "How safe is it to bring it back in a hardshell case but have it loaded as luggage?" NOT. Unless is't a nice sturdy flight case, don't consider it.

    Gig bag, carry on. The best bet is to put it in the 1st class coat closet. In the overhead, of course make sure it's on top of other bags. I've found United to be very accomodating, others you may need to do an Eddie Haskell routine. Instrument should not count as a carry-on (I think this is by law, thanks to the musicians' union).
  7. RandallFlagg

    RandallFlagg Guest

    Aug 18, 2003
    Kansas City
    I agree with the ATA Flight case idea. I've logged a few miles myself on planes and when I needed to transport my bass(es) I checked them in as luggage in their flight cases (locked) and never had a problem.
  8. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member

    Funny you should ask that question today. I was talking to a pilot I know today at my work about this topic and here's what he had to say. BTW, he plays guitar.

    He said that the best thing to do is buy a seat for your bass and bring it on. No matter how you check it, you give the gorillas a chance to destroy your instrument. That statement is really not fair to gorillas. He said that he's seen it happen even with gate check. He also said that since 911, they really haven't been allowing people to bring them on the plane without a seat.

    There were two threads about this 2-3 weeks ago. Someone mentioned SKB Cases. I don't know if I'm spelling it right. I think they said that you can check that with luggage and be safe. Someone else said that for less money, one of the golf bags is good too with extra padding.
  9. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    I've flown with my basses [one time it was a DeArmond Pilot Plus 5, and the last time it was my StingRay5] checked in their SKB cases.

    I'm not talking about the SKB Bass Vault but the hardshell cases like-the Ray5 was the case that came w/it and the DeArmond was an SKB Standard. The flights? The DeArmond went-Indy to Memphis [connection] to Ft.Lauderdale, then on the return trip went Ft.Lauderdale to Detroit to Indy. The Ray5 went Indy to i think Orlando and then Orlando back to Indy. Both of those times were post 9-11.

    Both cases where wrapped w/duck tape. The Pilot + 5, the duck tape was still in tact as i packaged it when i received it. The Ray5-they took the duck tape off yet after they did they taped the latches w/their ATA tape.

    The only "incident" i've ever had was picking up the Ray5 in either Orlando or Indy-they thought it was a weapons case so i had to go into their little special pickup thing e.g. room they have your bag and you gotta show em your claim check. The lady said "we thought it was a weapons case" i responded politely "it's a bass guitar-wanna see?" She just looked at me like i was crazy. I got my bass and life was good and a whole 30secs was taking out of my time-was actually faster than waiting for it at the carousel.

    So in conclusion-in my experience, the SKBs work fine. If i was going to do more consistent/steady flying, i'd definately go for the flight case.

    That's all
  10. I don't like the uncertainty of attempting to convince the gate staff and flight crew to let me carry aboard. Too much to worry about.

    I've used a regular hardshell case inside a bass shipping box many times, and it has always been fine. I pack extra packing tape inside for the return flight.

    Lately I've been using the new SKB case with wheels that takes a bass packed in a gigbag. So far that has worked fine, though it's important to secure the latches with something that the TSA guys can open but which doesn't stick out far enough to catch on stuff & bend the latches. I use a tiny pair of miniature SS marine shackles.

    Gator makes a pretty nice, lightweight ATA case that I've used successfully, as well.


  11. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Spend the bucks and get a travel case (or try your chances with a soft bag on the plane as Adrian stated). I've been flying about every three or four months to Europe with either an EUB or Sadowsky and there is always a hassle to deal with. Knowing my instrument is in a safe secure travel case does a lot to help ease my mind. It's just worth the bucks if you are going to be flying a bunch. If not, see how it goes with the soft bag but if you're flying at a time when there is a lot of passenger traffic your chances for a hassle go up exponentially. Good luck.
  12. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    the only thing that worries me about checking the bass in a hard case at the terminal is that you're never sure the case made it on the right plane. When i travelled in South America, luggage had a mysterious way of disappearing. Airlines lose baggage by the ton everyday. You could arrive in Chicago and your bass is in New Orleans. I never like to let my bass out of my sight, so i take my chance with a gate check, especially if i am travelling on a show day. If you are travelling on a non show day, at least you have some time to recover your axe.
    This week, if they dont let my gig bag on, i will gate check it , and as mentioned in this thread before, PRAY A LOT-
    a funny thing happened once. i had my gigbag on my back so that the headstock section was above my head. it must have looked real big because the attendant did not let me on. i pleaded. she denied... so i went around the back of the boarding line again, this time i carried my gig bag by my side. kinda on the other side of my body ..
    walked right in with it. :eyebrow: :p
  13. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    I had flown with my basses checked in thier HSCs (SKB & G&G) inside cardboard boxes and they have always been fine (L.A.-SPAIN, N.Y.C.-SPAIN, Scotland-Spain), although I always have a bad feeling on my guts until the box shows up at the coruosel. Once my StingRay got lost in a flight from Scotland to Spain. They gave it to me 24 hours later...very loooooooong 24 hours.

    TIP: I always make some kind of handles with ropes and tape so that it's easier to handle/carry in all positions. It's more confortable for the "gorillas" to move it around.

    keep groooovin'
  14. ZonPlyr


    Apr 29, 2003
    Pasadena, CA
    I flew to NYC 2 weeks ago for a gig and had absolutely no problems carrying my bass on the plane with me. I was using an incase gig bag and no batted an eye about it. On the return flight from nyc to detroit the flight attendant even offered to put the bass in the closet for me since the flight was going to be kind of full. Whenever I'm getting ready to board I carry the bass by my side instead of over my shoulder. I think that helps. It has fit in the overhead on dc-9s and 10's and on 737's with no problem at all.

    One thing that northwest told me was that if I was going to carry the bass on it would have to be my only carry-on item. I didn't have any problems with that since i figured that was fair. My bass took up far less room than some of the things people were trying to cram into the overhead.
  15. NV43345


    Apr 1, 2003
  16. bassjam

    bassjam Supporting Member

    Aug 2, 2004
    Lakland Basses, G&L Basses, Genzler Amplification
    after logging in only a half a million miles(yo adrian)i opted for the heavy duty road case.as stated in this thread after 911 the attitude of the gate agents has changed.most of the time its fine to take it on the plane.but that one time they make you gate check it you will wish you hade a flight case.a while back we flew (somewhere).our guitar player always took his on board.we arrived a little late and all the overheads were full and they said the coat closet was for crew only.he was forced to gate check it.after pleading with them to be careful we got to our destination to notice a nice big ding right around the horn of his beautiful new tom anderson where his strap connects.every night i play with him i see this reminder of why i go through the trouble of lugging around this big a** road case when i fly.now this could possibly be the first time the airline has ever damaged anything,OR these guys dont give a flip about how they load luggage.(which is what our precious basses are to them)
  17. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Well, the thread starter said he's buying a bass and bringing it back home, not touring the country with one, so I'd say there's no need to purchase a flight case yet.

    If the bass comes with a gigbag, I would carry it on the plane (this you can do). But if the bass comes with a harshell case I would let the store ship it home instead, too risky putting it with baggage.
    Actually now that I think about it, the stores in California are going to charge you sales tax even if you are an out-of-stater. The only way out of it, is to have them ship the bass home. So you may want to consider that route.