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Travelling with a flight case

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by jazz bass guy, Oct 21, 2004.


  1. I haven't seen a thread here about this specific topic. Is there one I am missing, or does anyone have anything to share about their experiences flying with their basses? I live in Canada, and have travelled Canada, Europe, the USA, S. America, Asia and Australia, and I would love to hear the stories of others who have travelled with basses in cases. Perhaps the dos and don'ts. Personally, I always find it an interesting challenge at the airport; especially these days!
     
  2. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    With my son nearing music school audition dates I'd be quite curious about this myself.
     
  3. bassgeek

    bassgeek

    Oct 19, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    The British bass magazine, "Double Bassist" did an article on flying with a bass in their Spring 2004 issue. It was very well done. They had posed questions to 4 or so airlines and printed their responses to each one. I think a lot of it depends on the person you wind up talking to at the counter. I had a friend who used to slip the skycap a 50, but I think those days are over.

    I know connecting flights complicate everything (as usual). I haven't flown with a bass, but I carry the Acoustic Image amp with me, and lately I've had problems with even that!
     
  4. JetJazz

    JetJazz

    Sep 9, 2004
    Houston
    I'm an airline pilot and a bass player and I know a few things about carrying a bass. First, carrying your bass as a carry-on does not count against your being allowed only two carry-ons. An instrument doesn't count. I think that you can print a letter stating such from the TSA website. I carry a copy with me always but I've never been questioned about the bass being one of the two carry-ons. Most security folks know about this and a very cooperative.

    Having your bass as a carry-on is just that, a carry-on and as long as it fits in the overhead bins or a closet there should be no problem.

    I don't have a flight case for checking by bass so I have no expericence in that area. I always carry my bass with me.
    It's a Roscoe SKB six-string and I do get very nervous about it but I've never had a problem.

    One area to be concerned with is carrying your bass on communter planes like the regional jets. A bass will not fit in the overhead bins and the closet is very small so you might get stuck having to check it. My experience so far has been that as long as there is room in the small closet flight attendants will let you put an instrument in there.

    Always use ATA approved flight cases for checking your bass.



    Hope this helps.
     
  5. It would help if we were talking about Electric Bass. However, we are not. From what I understand, Double Basses ceased to be allowed as carry-on even before 9/11. Used to be you could buy a seat for your Bass. Those days are long gone.
     
  6. JetJazz

    JetJazz

    Sep 9, 2004
    Houston
    I don't see any mention of the topic being double bass in the original thread so we ARE talking about electric bass as far as I'm concerned ( why do I get involved with trying to help guys out??)
    The information I so generously provided is for those traveling with ELECTRIC BASSES.
     
  7. 5stringDNA

    5stringDNA

    Oct 10, 2002
    Englewood, CO
    This thread is in the double bass misc forums jetjazz.

    I didn't realize that buying a ticket for a large instrument was no longer allowed.
     
  8. We are not unappreciative of your generosity. Can you provide any information for those traveling with DOUBLE BASSES?

    Thank you.
     
  9. I guess I could have made it more clear, but I thought it would be redundant. Anyway, I meant travelling with a Double Bass. I have never had a spot of trouble travelling with an electric, nor with my EUB in a golf club case, but I occasionally get real trouble with my big guy in the trunk. I have a Gage case, and a rather heavy 7/8 bass, so it comes to just over 100 lbs in the case. That is a problem when they weigh it, because then they want to send it cargo. Cargo means lots of money, probable damage and a day or more of delay until it arrives (I know this from experience), which is obviously unacceptable while touring. I usually try to get to the airport early, preferably with as many of the other musicians as I can, and attempt to "befriend" the ticket agent. That isn't always possible, unfortunately, as some people are not "befriendable" no matter what. I am currently working on getting some sort of exemption for working musicians to the overweight restrictions so I can continue to work, but it is looking like a hard sell. The irony is that many of the jazz festivals (at least in Canada) are sponsored in part by the very airlines which give me grief while touring!
    For what it's worth, you haven't really been able to buy a seat for your bass (again, at least in Canada) since 1989. Up until that time, you could get a half-price seat for the bass, provided you were willing to sit beside it. I understand that the current arrangement is that you can still buy a full-priced seat for the bass, but it has to be in First Class, and you need another one so you can sit beside it! That means TWO First Class tickets, which is effectively prohibitive. The last time I travelled with my bass on board (1989), I had a nightmare with the folks behind me complaining the whole way. Afterward, I sort of felt like the policy change was my fault...
     
  10. Todd Coolman had some good road-tested advice for dealing with airlines on his old website. It's no longer up, but maybe you could email him, and he could dig up the file and send it to you.
     
  11. I'm going to be flying with my bass for the first time next month and I was wondering if I need to detune the strings at all to prevent them from breaking.
     
  12. Marcus Johnson

    Marcus Johnson

    Nov 28, 2001
    Maui
    Man, I've seen that same look on my wife's face more than once :bag:
     
  13. andrew_laking

    andrew_laking

    Aug 20, 2003
    Ireland
    Does anyone have any opinions about compressed styrofoam double bass cases? They seem to be cheap, light and practical, but I've never used one. Any thoughts, experiences or suggestions would be much appreciated!
     
  14. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    Your wife looks like a bad fight. I've seen a similar expression on my wife's face many, many times and I'm usually terrified.
     
  15. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Hopefully you pay a little more attention to the pre flight than you did to which forum this appeared in. Unless of course you fly for AugerIn Airlines.

    It kind of doesn't matter that you were nice enough to help the little old lady across the street if that wasn't where she was going, dig?

    The other bad thing about buying a seat (even in first or business class) is that they will bump the bass in a heart beat for a living breathing business dick (or dickette). Not fun.

    Sorry about yer unfortunate flying experience, Jase. You know Alex Cuadrado? he may be able to help out if want to try to rent or borrow for the next tour...
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Those aren't flight cases, they're just supposed to give a little extra protection for "around town" transport. If you're going to personally load it on the van for an extended tour, cool. If somebody else is going to be loading it under the bus along with all the other ****, get an actual flight case.
     
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah, alex is originally from Barcelona. I figure he's got a pretty good handle on who's at least around Spain.

    Jim Ferguson was talking for awhile about trying to organize soem kind of directory of cats in the hinterlands who had playable basses and who would be willing to do the exchange - I can borrow yours when I'm in Toledo and you can borrow mine when you're in Nashville - kind of thing.

    Maybe we could timeshare a bunch of Shens, New Standards and Christophers around the world?
     
  18. andrew_laking

    andrew_laking

    Aug 20, 2003
    Ireland
    I was wondering that, but there is a lot of stuff around the net and a lot of people saying that styrofoam cases are as reliable for planes as hard cases. The general feeling seems to be that airline staff are more likely to drop heavy fibreglass cases because they're so heavy and hard to handle. There's also an acknowledgement that concentrated excessive weight on the styrofoam cases is more likely to cause damage than on the fibreglass ones. I guess you take your chances either way?

    Anymore thoughts?
     
  19. a. meyer

    a. meyer

    Dec 10, 2004
    portland, oregon
    I recently traveled back east on Southwest with my bass in a Kolstein trunk. I went to the airport with Todd Coolman's tips in hand, just in case, but the ticket agents I dealt with gave me no trouble at all. They charge a flat $50 to check the bass, and they let me pay for the round trip when I checked in, so all I had to do on the return was show the receipt. I watched the baggage handlers whenever I could, and they were careful enough. TSA had no problem with the bass either.
     
  20. pedro

    pedro

    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    FWIW, this past week we traveled to Boston for my sons NEC auditions. We bought a seat for his bass and traveled to and from Boston without incident. We were able to secure the bulkhead on each leg of the flight although on the way back, we had to wait until we were actually aboard the plane before we were able to get what we wanted. In general everything went pretty smoothly. We travel to NYC in two weeks and plan the same arrangement. Will check back in and let everyone know how things turn out.