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Typical procedure for flying with a bass?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by Franny, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. I'm a high school senior from Washington State, and plan on flying down to Dallas, Texas in August of this year as I start attending UNT. I'm very new to shipping my bass any way other than comfortably in a car, and would like to ask which are your favorite airlines, favorite ways to take the bass with you, favorite cases, concerns when flying, etc. Honestly any help at all with this would be greatly appreciated.

    (I'm currently trying to figure out flying, but if a road trip or shipping a bass are better options, I would love to know.)

    Thank you!
  2. rjspear

    rjspear Commercial User

    Apr 23, 2011
    Ithaca, New York
    Luthier, owner Singing Woods Violin Shop
    I might not be the best one on the forum to reply, but my strong feeling is (after years of repairing damaged basses) that if the bass goes out of your care, custody, and control at any point along the route, you definitely want it in a hardshell case or a trunk.
  3. samc2527


    Nov 21, 2010
    Austin, TX
    Buy a flight case and ship it, you won't have to deal with carrying it around and it'll be cheaper...flying into dallas using delta would actually be delta connection...which charges $150 or you have to buy a seat for it, if it can't fit in their tiny ass compartments.
  4. Thank you! Is Delta a pretty good airline? I've heard good things about Southwest for shipping basses.
  5. You could always take a train. It'd take longer, of course, but it may be less of a hassle.
  6. Shipping (either air cargo or FedEx/UPS) is far more expensive than checking it with your luggage, given the right airline. Either way, you need to use a hard shell flight case. If checking the bass as luggage, it must weigh under 100 pounds in the case or they will refuse to take it. Unless you have a very light instrument, any empty case over 70 pounds will be too heavy. If you are slightly over the weight limit and they insist it be under 100 pounds, you can always remove the end pin and soft case and check those separately. Most hard cases are designed to protect a "nude" bass, though you do this at your own risk.

    Unless there has been a recent policy change, Southwest charges $50 for oversize luggage. Continental has a $100 flat fee for double basses, which is specifically written into their terms and agreements. It may help to print their own rules off just for clarification at the airport -- most airline employees don't know their own company policies regarding musical instruments. I have heard JetBlue is bass-friendly, though I've never tried it. Delta is reportedly not the greatest. I've shipped basses by Southwest air cargo, but it's never been for less than $200.

    I drove from WA to Houston for college. It's a nice drive, and, for me, less stressful than flying.
  7. The OP is asking about a double bass. It isn't possible to take these on as carry ons without an extra seat, and it would be suicide to check one without a flight case.
  8. I hadn't even thought of going by train! I'll have to check out train policies. (Again, any advice or knowledge is always appreciated.)

    And I was originally just talking about a double bass, but your post about your bass guitar is good too - I also have to find a good way to get my Fender Squier down there. I was thinking I would check it as luggage if it couldn't be taken as a carry-on (it's in a Gator case) but would shipping separately be better?

    I think Continental sounds better, then. As far as weight goes, I'm unsure about the case, since I'll be borrowing one from my old youth orchestra, but my upright is a 7/8, so I have to take the soft case off anyways to be able to fit it. (If it's got some leeway on the weight, I might just pack some extra clothes in there, but we'll see).

    Thank you for your input! It's really helping the process quite a bit.
  9. I ship thousands of instruments of all kinds all the time...

    I agree the better your flight case the better your odds. Can't beat a great fitted HARD flight case, probably you don't have one though and would rarely use it, so don't wanna pay for one. fair enough. I also agree keeping it in sight and possession is always the best guarantee.

    Most of the time a bass in an average lightweight hard shell is fine to check, usually without oversize charges since they are relatively light compared to regular luggage. BUT I have seen mashed hardshells and broken basses coming out out (RARE, much less than 1% but it happens).

    carry-on for most airlines in a gig bag is fine for electric. less fine on a budget airline, but still not impossible Don't tell them you're doing it.. they'll say you must check it. Just turn up at the plane and get on. This is also better for the bass than the freezing pressure drop of the checked compartment.

    But yeah man never check a bass in a soft case. never ship an upright without a hard-case - Some idiot will mash your bridge.
    For Upright without hard-case.. ugh.. yeah take the train. or drive her down. If not feasible; Buy that hard case you won't regret it then pay the oversized fee and check it it'll be ok and cheaper than buyying it's own seat.

    If you check the thing reduce the tension of the strings... not necessarily all the way slack but take it down a couple of whole tones. and allow a few days for your neck to readjust after the pressure changes before deciding to make any truss rod adjustments. It will take a few days to settle before it will stay solidly in tune. if checked they may require you to take it to oversized/fragile baggage area that is a good idea anyways as it "may" get thrown less.

    But generally unless it is a ridonculously expensive bass, don't worry it'll probably be fine. I can't count the number of times I have tossed my own bass in its gig bag over a barbed fence OR rammed it into the overhead compartment it still works good :) Get on the plane as early in the cue as poss to get more room in the overhead... if no room is left they usually have a closet for crutches and staff luggage etc... so I say don't worry, and don't ship it separately travel with it for best price.

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