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Username: slapbass

Post Number: 61
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 6:32 am:   Edit Post

I am flying out to Las Vegas on Saturday and planning on taking my Series 2. Has anyone flown with such large cases before. Will the airlines let me take as a carry on? I have called and they said I could take it as a carry on but this is not your average size case. Just wandering if anyone has had experience carrying these large basses on airplanes.

Thanks in advance.

Advanced Member
Username: keith_h

Post Number: 225
Registered: 2-2005
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 8:24 am:   Edit Post

I haven't flown with a bass for awhile but the decision on whether to allow the bass was always with the gate attendents and the flight crew. It usually depended upon how full the flight was and the mood of the folks. If they did not allow it I would gate check it. This means they walk it down to the plane from the gate and deliver it to you at the gate on the other end. Although not guaranteed I think this is safer than checking it at the luggage counter. I bring strap tape along and tape the latches just in case a latch decides to pop open. In todays world of not being allowed to lock luggage it would also give you an indication of whether the case was openned or not. I would also check to see if your insurance will cover the bass. Good luck and hope you enjoy your trip.

Username: apdavis

Post Number: 41
Registered: 5-2004
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 8:38 am:   Edit Post

Here are two older page topics about traveling with your Alembic.

I flew with my Ric in it's standard hardcase. The bass made it through but the closure was never the same. You may want to look into having bass and case packed for shipping and flying with it that way.
Username: pas

Post Number: 43
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 12:18 pm:   Edit Post

I've flown with my Spoiler previously and it was too large to be a carry on. Two options - check and insure it or buy another ticket and have it seated next to you. I chose the first option and fortunatly, all ended OK. The question is - how much do you trust others with your baby?
Intermediate Member
Username: dfung60

Post Number: 103
Registered: 5-2002
Posted on Friday, October 28, 2005 - 1:02 pm:   Edit Post

Your best bet (other than not flying) is the gate check route, but to do that you'll need to convince the airline to let you do that when you check in and again at the gate. At the gate, you'll get a special tag from the clerk, then you carry it down to the plane's door, and leave it there. A baggage carrier will take it down to the cargo hold and it will be waiting for you as you step off the plane at arrival. Most of what's going this way will be baby strollers - but most other stuff that's big doesn't get this far (golf clubs, skis, etc.). That stuff needs to be checked prior to security.

Often delicate oversize stuff can come onboard if you buy it a seat, but I'm not sure that they'll let you do that with a hardshell bass case as it's probably bigger than what would fit in a seat. This is intended more for saxes, trumpets, violins and the like.

Finally, just to make this all even more frustrating, unless you purchase special travel insurance for the instrument beforehand, I think it's unlikely that you will be able to depend on any insurance from the airline if you check it. They have a limit of $750 or $1000 for personal items in a regular suitcase, but they provide no coverage for any other items you might check unless it is in a certified ATA-approved case (e.g., a real Anvil), and even then, it's probably subject to a limit well below what your instrument is worth.

The airlines don't make it easy but this is definitely out on the edge for them. It may be easier to send your instrument ahead if you can do that (yes, I know that's not much fun either, but at least you can insure it fully).

David Fung
Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 265
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 5:12 am:   Edit Post

I've done a lot of air travel over the past year with my band and 99% of the time I always take my guitar in a full flight case which goes in the hold.

On a few recent trips i decided to take my strat as a carry on since I'd seen other travellers with bigger things being able to carry them on board. Things such as acoustic guitars delicate ornaments they had purchased etc.

I took a padded gigbag type case which is bass sized and not strat sized but I didn't have any problems carrying it on board the stewardesses were very nice about it and on on trip I even ended up with it being strapped across 3 empty seats with the seatbelts buckled up across the guitar to prevent it sliding about.

The sax and Trombone players in the band always carry their instruments on board and never have any problems. Yes I appreciate that the bass is slightly larger, but on a recent trip to play at WOMAD in Singapore the bass player of the Dhol Foundation carried Fender Jazz 5 on board in a leather padded gig bag and had no problems at all.

I have to say that in the past when I've seen other travellers trying to carry on board instruments, if the case looks like the instrument you are carrying they seem to allow it and others that are just rectangular in shape have been taken down to the hold.

Maybe its psychological and the shape of the case makes the contents look more vulnerable.

The danger always is that if you take it in a soft case and they say NO you can't carry it on board you are in a dilemma.

I think if you can get on the seats that board early you can claim the first spot in the overhead luggage which is better as people won't have to move your instrument to get their things in and out.


Guitar strapped across empty seat
Intermediate Member
Username: byoung

Post Number: 140
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 3:11 pm:   Edit Post

I asked about booking a ticket for my instrument, and here's what Alaska Airlines had to say (this was a counter agent, not a ticketing agent):

They'll sell you an instrument ticket for half price. That will guarantee it a seat.

I personally would not trust an instrument in the luggage hold (baggage handlers), the gate check (baggage handlers, I don't think the gate check area is pressurized or climate controlled), or in the overhead (you're going to trust another harried passenger to treat your instrument like you would?).

If you have a ticket for the instrument, you have the right to belt it into the seat. Everything else, and you're just depending on the good will of someone who probably just had really bad contract negotiations with the airline.

Of course, I never check bags when I fly (my wife does, though).

Username: matthew90046

Post Number: 20
Registered: 1-2005
Posted on Saturday, October 29, 2005 - 4:58 pm:   Edit Post

I have not lost a bass while traveling, but I do have a story to tell.

I am an avid fly fisherman and upon returning from a recent trip I found my bag to be quite a bit lighter than I had remembered. I knew what had happened before I even opened the bag. Everything of value was gone. Only my dirty clothing remained. My total loss was well over $2000. The next step was getting compensated for my loss... and it was total hell. After many faxes and such with the claims department they sent me a check for $450. I continued to fight and was eventually sent another check for $450. This took over 6 months and at that point I felt that I got all I was going to get. I cashed the checks and called it quits.

The airline had no concern that someone had stolen my gear and said it happens all the time.

I highly recommend getting some good insurance for all your gear. I have insurance for my home studio and all my instruments through Marsh - Seabury & Smith (800-503-9230). They came recommended by the American Federation of Musicians.

(Message edited by matthew90046 on October 30, 2005)
Advanced Member
Username: jazzyvee

Post Number: 268
Registered: 6-2002
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 12:53 am:   Edit Post

I agree with you there about insurance matthew, I also have insurance for all my instruments.
Just a thing to be aware of, ( UK as I don't know the USA situation), if you insure your musical equipment under a domestic or home insurance policy it will NOT cover you for any professional or semi-professional use or use where you are playing for financial gain.
For that you will need to go to different insurer.
I have mine done through a company afiliated to the British Musicians Union and that gives me worldwide cover and public liability insurance of about 5million.
It cost me about 200 this year as I increased my instrument count with another Alembic bass and added worldwide cover to encompass my touring schedule.

The only downside on any theft of an alembic is that each one is an unique instrument not a mass produced clone so you may get your money back but that unique instrument is gone.

I get very posessive about my guitar when travelling with it abroad and never leave it in the Porters room in hotels because everyone else's luggage is in there and anyone can pick up your stuff unchallenged.

I always take my guitar to my room with me, I never leave it at the venue between soundcheck and showtime.

Let me tell you a story....The band I now work with had their stuff held to ransom in a Brasilian hotel when the promoter of the festival they were playing at checked out of the hotel with the other bands without paying the bill and since the only kit left in the porters room was this bands. The hotel held onto the instruments pending payment of the hotel bill.

The band couldn't pay the bill obviously so the hotel refused to hand over their instruments. Even when the police were called this didn't change the situation.

In the end they had to leave all their instruments and equipment in Brasil and fly back home. Up to now which is about 5 years later they still do not have their stuff. None of it was insured so they had to go out and buy it all again.
Fortunately, no Alembics were used in the band. ;-)

Hope that helps.
Intermediate Member
Username: j_gary

Post Number: 135
Registered: 6-2005
Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2005 - 9:16 am:   Edit Post

Hi Jazzy, man what a rip. I would have sought out the local street punk and put him on retainer for an annual window removal at the hotel. I would also shout from the rooftops naming the hotel and promoter so no other musicians went near the idiots. I'd have gone Russell Crowe on their dumb asses. Thanks for the heads up. I think there is an important lesson here for bands on the road,please pardon the rant.
Username: turk713

Post Number: 20
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 3:15 pm:   Edit Post


I have no experience with this sort of thing, but a friend of mine has flown to Europe a lot with his band and he's filled me in a bit. He agrees that flying a good instrument can be worrisome and rightly so. He said to call the specific airline and ask what their protocol is for instruments, insofar as each airline has its own way of doing things even in this time of high alert over terroristic luggage. He also mentioned that a plane may have some space in the front area of the passenger deck, space which can fill up as people get on so it is good to be in front when they call your rows to board. That option would be one to ask about when calling the airline. Also, have good insurance, enough to buy another instrument. Last thing he offered was in case you are flying someplace to where you will fly somewhat frequently, and to where you know somebody you can trust -- when you get there, buy an instrument and then keep it there with the person you know, for when you fly back each time. Of course, that's a lot of if's.

Username: rockbassist

Post Number: 53
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 4:13 pm:   Edit Post

The first time that I flew with my bass I was obviously very concerned. Luckily, the attendant at the check in counter was honest enough to inform me that I should not under any circumstances allow an instrument to be placed in the cargo hold as it will most likely get damaged. I have found the best thing to do is contact the airline ahead of time and give them the dimensions of the case. They can check to see what type of plane that you will be flying on and determine if the case will fit in the over head luggage bins. If it will fit, you will be allowed to bring it on board. I have flown with my bass many times since then and have not had a problem when following this procedure.
Advanced Member
Username: serialnumber12

Post Number: 251
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2005 - 8:22 pm:   Edit Post

BEEEEE VERY CAREFUL!!!!!!.they dont dont give a $#*&%$!,about your luggage!,ive had mine broken three times!!!!!
Username: slapbass

Post Number: 65
Registered: 3-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 5:29 am:   Edit Post

Well I ended up not playing the Alembic while out in Vegas. Vegoose was awesome with a great turn out. The Sema show also had a lot to offer.

I flew with my Aries single cut 7 string and had a great time. When I got to the airport the ticket person was very helpful and I purchased another seat for my bass. United gave me a great deal on the one way ticket just for an instrument. I was in Vegas for two weeks and sold my bass to a guy I met in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay. I will never fly with out buying a seat for the instrument again.

I fly to Croatia in January to pick up my 3 new Aries basses and have already purchased a tick for there return flight home.

Keep Thumpin'
Username: georgie_boy

Post Number: 19
Registered: 8-2005
Posted on Wednesday, November 23, 2005 - 8:01 am:   Edit Post

I've flown with Swiss Air a few times. I had a Fernandes Series 1 copy ---beautiful bass, and it fitted perfectly into two of the overhead compartments so I assume a real Series 1 would do the same. Swiss Air were so helpful. I suppose it just depends on the company you use. The Fernandes is an exact replica of the Series 1, right down to the hollow in the top part of the body. Same low pass filters etc.-----just didn't seem to have that old 76 Series 1 sound that I know and love.

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