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Travelling overseas and my bass

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by crazyphil, Mar 24, 2003.


  1. I recently got my dream job in paradise and will traveling via airplane at the end of April. My question is, how should I pack my bass? It's an American Fender J and I'm wondering if placing it in it's hard case is sufficient. I would kill myself if anything happened to it in transit. Also, I've considered simply paying extra and taking it onboard as carry-on luggage. My 3 main options are:

    1. Pack it in with the "general population" of luggage.

    2. Carry-on and probably pay extra

    3. Let the movers take it down.

    Any ideas? Is the Fender hard case sufficient?
     
  2. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    Depends on where you are going and what you are flying. I've flown many times with a bass, usually to the caribbean.

    First, NEVER check your bass as luggage in just an ordinary bass case. Hasn't happened to me personally, but I saw a guitar case with a hole punched clear through it once, coming down the chute with the rest of the luggage, and the owner was crying when he saw it.

    In most cases, I'd recommend you check it as luggage, but make sure its inside an actual, honest-to-goodness ATA-spec flight case. I bought one used on Ebay once for around $170, and with a simple exacto-knife modified the "Rickenbacker" foam to fit a Stingray5 just fine. The only drawback is that American Airlines made be pay an extra $50-$70 or so as it was considered "oversized luggage". You also might want to check into getting an SKB keyboard case that your entire guitar case will fit inside of, that should also give you plenty of protection.

    If you aren't taking any small commuter planes, you also might want to consider taking the bass on the plane with you, in a small, thin, gig bag. They fit in overhead compartments just fine. However, if one of your planes is a small commuter, they have either no overheads or tiny overheads and you'll be screwed having to gate-check your bass plane-side. Not a good idea, IMO. I did it once, and stressed the entire time. What made it worse is that when the plane arrived, they are supposed to hand it to you as you step off the plane. I waited and waited, and eventually I saw the handler take it out of the hold, and start walking off the opposite direction with it (this was Puerto Rico). I of course gave chase and he jsut handed it to me like nothing was wrong and went about his business.

    If you have only large planes, just carry it on in a gig bag, but get the thinnest, least imposing gig bag you can find so the airline attendants don't freak out. When you check in at the ticket counter, tell them you are intending to gate-check the bass, then they won't cause you any trouble. Then, when you get to the gate, nonchalantly carry it on, and IF they give you problems, tell them the ticket agent said it was OK in the overhead, and that you frequently fly with it in the overhead. They may grumble, but in my experience they will let you do it. Just say "here, I'll show you . . .".

    Also, there are concerns post 9-11 with security. Make sure that ONLY the bass is in its case, no cables, pedals, extra strings, ANYTHING else that might look like wiring for a bomb. You can pack those items in your suitcase . . . The less heads you turn, the better.