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United Breaks Guitars (To fly or not to fly with my P-Bass)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by YellowJacket, Dec 17, 2011.

  1. YellowJacket


    May 31, 2010
    I have a mountain of covers to learn for a cover band. I'm wondering how robust P-Basses are. i.e. is it possible for them to withstand the rigors of Airport Baggage Handlers? The last thing I want is to have a case full of kindling when I arrive at the other end. Any advice on how to fly smart with my gear?

  2. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    the smart way is to buy a legitimate ATA road case, check it and forget it.

    Do anything else and you depend on the Gods for everything to go the way you want.
  3. I used the normal Ibanez HSC back in 2006 and had no issues. The case got dinged up a bit, but it did the job it's supposed to do.

    That being said, if I ever fly with an instrument again, I'll be buying an ATA case in advance. The only reason I used a regular HSC is because they had just changed the rules to make you check instruments; prior to that flight, I had always put them in the coat closet with no issues.
  4. lowfreq33


    Jan 27, 2010
    Endorsing Artist: Genz Benz Amplification
    SKB makes an ATA approved case with the TSA locks. You can lock it, but the TSA agents have a skeleton key that opens all of these locks. This way they can open the case to inspect it without tearing up the case. Chances are if they see one of these they won't even bother with it.
  5. T Bassman

    T Bassman Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2010
    Some airlines allow you to 'gate check' your bass, if it's in a gig bag. That is to say, they will stow it in the storage closet at front or rear of plane where the staff keep their belongings. It's never advertised, but I have flown my bass routinely in Canada this way for years. I just ask politely when I check in my other bags, and they give me a special tag for my gig bag. I've never had a problem, but this may vary depending on airline etc. when I gig internationally I use a flight case as the others above mention just incase I can't gate check as often we use multiple carriers on a given tour. Maybe make some calls ahead and see if gate check is an option. Sure is nice not to lug a flight case around if not needed, especially if you are rushing to catch crowded trains, buses or streetcars. Good luck!
  6. Road Bull

    Road Bull

    Jul 24, 2011
    Seattle, WA.
    Well... Take the baggage handlers out of the equation. Imagine if you will, that I don't like you, and now I have something you like in my hands. I have zero motivation to handle with care. You are just another 16 lbs. in my day. And your bass will soar through the air and maybe land when I wanted it to land, onto a conveyor belt. But maybe it misses and hits the ground. Ooops... whatevzz. I try again. It is worse than UPS. And that is pretty bad.

    Plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Maybe use a cheaper P and get a robust ATA flight case. And be ready replace bass somewhere along the road.

    Funny story. I was in high school, and our high school band and orchestra traveled abroad. I had a few chances to see violin, trombone, percussion, ect, ect, thrown through the air as if they were sock monkeys. Lots of broken cases and instruments went a flying.

    Check ahead of time if any of your insurance covers that kind of damage. Have those numbers ahead of time.. Take pictures before you package, as you package, and inspect when you arrive.

    Good luck.
  7. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    I know this to be true as well.
  8. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    So... are there any "lightweight" flightcase options, that would be small/light enough for them to let you gate check it when they are feeling nice, but strong enough to withstand angry baggage handlers with a hangover??
  9. Road Bull

    Road Bull

    Jul 24, 2011
    Seattle, WA.
    The new Fender/SKB would be on the lighter side of ATA / with TSA approved locks, type of flight case. Even so, I have read on TB that some who have used said case, have had the case take quite a beating with broken corners and whatnot. Still, it did its job i suppose. That is about as light as you would want to go. That way, you may get lucky and be able to get special treatment, but if not, it should offer a modicum of security.

    BTW, The new Fender / SKB molded ATA cases are not too expensive. If you order from MF, check out the http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f171/mf-great-deals-anytime-tbers-829250/ thread and request a quote.
    Just don't order anything else with the case. They, like bagage handlers, are happy to thow it into a big box with your case and little packaging.
  10. panamonte


    Dec 12, 2009
    Brighton, UK
    To be honest I wouldn't trust a new Fender/SKB case to protect my bass in the hold. If you stand on one you'll see there's a lot of give and if you imagine something heavy being slung into the hold on top of the case, your bass is going to bear the brunt of the impact.

    I use a Hiscox flightcase which is light but very sturdy and pack clothes around my bass to make sure it doesn't move around at all. Hiscox are UK based so that's probably not a lot of help to you, but I've also heard really good things about the SKB Bass Safe - quite bulky but you put your bass inside in a gig bag and it will withstand pretty much anything. Hope this helps.

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