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A case in point: Airline + Guitar conundrum...

Discussion in 'Guitars in General' started by CyberFerret, May 23, 2011.

  1. CyberFerret

    CyberFerret Member

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    Location:
    Darwin, Australia
    Hi all,

    I've got to take a quick trip across the country this weekend with my Les Paul. The question is whether to take it in the standard Gibson hard shell case, or use a Gator case that I have sitting around which is shaped for the LP.

    My dilemma(s) are:

    1. Local airlines now no longer allow guitars as carry baggage on domestic flights. I am going to try and negotiate with the counter staff, but I am 95% sure I am going to have to check it.

    2. Every time I have checked in a guitar case into the hold, it has come back with severa scuffing and tears in the tolex. Seeing as the Gibson case is a nice custom shop one, I don't really want to get that damaged.

    3. Having the Gibson name etc. splashed on the case is making me nervous as well - don't want to advertise exactly what it in there to all and sundry.

    4. The Gator case, whilst it looks tough and has thicker sides that the Gibson case, seems to have more give in the top lid, so I am suspecting if they put some heavy loads on the top lid it may damage the LP.

    5. Do I lock the case, or do I leave it so it can be inspected? I haven't got the TSA locks on either of the cases. I was thinking of leaving them unlocked, but wrapping packing tape around the whole case so I can see if it has been tampered/opened.

    So, any recommendations on which way to go? Gator case or Gibson case? What else should I be doing to the LP to protect the headstock? I was thinking of detuning and putting some of those inflated plastic air bags around the headstock to try and prevent shocks from being transferred.

    I've tried to hire or buy a proper road case for it, but at such short notice no one in my town has one for hire or sale at the moment...
     
  2. frankthomson

    frankthomson Member

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    buy a cheapo axe n bring that.
     
  3. onemind

    onemind Member

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    Might be safer to ship it to someone you know at the destination
     
  4. Funky Chicken

    Funky Chicken Member

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    Location:
    Apex, NC
    I fly with a guitar pretty frequently-I flew round trip to New York this past weekend and carried on with no problem.

    Here is the FAA's regulation. I carry a copy with me in my gig bag-I have never had to pull it out.

    Bill #H.R.915, The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2009 which was passed by the house. This is from section 427:

    SEC. 427. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

    (a) In General- Subchapter I of chapter 417 (as amended by this Act) is further amended by adding at the end the following:

    `Sec. 41725. Musical instruments

    `(a) In General-

    `(1) INSTRUMENTS IN THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT- An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument in the aircraft passenger compartment in a closet, baggage, or cargo stowage compartment approved by the Administrator without charge if--

    `(A) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo set forth by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; and

    `(B) there is space for such stowage on the aircraft.

    `(2) LARGE INSTRUMENTS IN THE PASSENGER COMPARTMENT- An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument in the aircraft passenger compartment that is too large to be secured in a closet, baggage, or cargo stowage compartment approved by the Administrator, if--

    `(A) the instrument can be stowed in a seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo set forth by the Administrator for such stowage; and

    `(B) the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased a seat to accommodate the instrument.

    `(3) INSTRUMENTS AS CHECKED BAGGAGE- An air carrier shall transport as baggage a musical instrument that is the property of a passenger on a flight and that may not be carried in the aircraft passenger compartment if--

    `(A) the sum of the length, width, and height measured in inches of the outside linear dimensions of the instrument (including the case) does not exceed 150 inches and the size restrictions for that aircraft;

    `(B) the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds and the weight restrictions for that aircraft; and

    `(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of baggage or cargo set forth by the Administrator for such stowage.

    `(4) AIR CARRIER TERMS- Nothing in this section shall be construed as prohibiting an air carrier from limiting its liability for carrying a musical instrument or requiring a passenger to purchase insurance to cover the value of a musical instrument transported by the air carrier.

    `(b) Regulations- The Secretary may prescribe such regulations as may be necessary or appropriate to implement subsection (a).'.

    (b) Clerical Amendment- The analysis for such subchapter is amended by adding at the end the following:

    `41725. Musical instruments.'.

    (c) Effective Date- The amendments made by this section shall take effect 30 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

    In order to avoid hassles I do the following-

    The guitar is wrapped in a beach towel and placed in a cheapie $29 gig bag. Go get a cheap gig bag. It doesn't need to be a great gig bag because you are carrying the guitar on. The gig bag contains NOTHING but the guitar itself, my travel documents, and a copy of the FAA statement above. No strap, cables, strings, tools. If they see a big hardshell case they will push you to check it but if you have a nice skinny gig bag they can't make a case for the guitar being safe in the cargo hold.

    I check everything else with my luggage. I have my **** together-I am not fumbling for ID or documents. Ever see "Up In The Air"? Be as organized as George Clooney. I fly a lot and have never been pulled to the side for a patdown or a hand check of my bag at security when I have had a guitar in a gig bag as my carry-on.

    I lay low in the waiting area and do everything I can to not draw attention to myself or to the guitar. If you walk around the terminal pretending to be a rockstar you will get hassled. Cover up tattoos. Minimize piercings. Try to look like you are on a business trip-tan pants are good. Save your stage clothes for the stage.

    Try to sit in the back of the plane-you will board first. People don't want to pay to check bags so they are trying to carry all sorts of **** on the plane that jams up the overheads. By boarding first you will get to an empty compartment. Offer to help someone put their bag overhead, then put the guitar in next to it and discreetly close the compartment door. If they run out of space, the flight attendant will open the door, see a full compartment, and move on. It's first come first serve in the overheads-don't be the last guy on the plane opening every compartment trying to find a place for your guitar.

    One time I was approached by a gate agent who gave me a gate check ticket for the guitar-she wanted me to hand the guitar to the guy at the bottom of the jetway. I smiled and put the tag on the bag, then I pulled it off halfway down the jetway and put it in my pocket. Walked right past the guy and onto the plane with the guitar.

    Some airlines are more of a pain in the ass than others but at the end of the day at long as the plane you are flying on has an overhead compartment that will fit the gig bag they cannot legally stop you. How you handle the check in process has everything to do with how it goes.
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  5. rabbuhl

    rabbuhl Member

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    CyberFerret, I would not recommend bringing your Les Paul. Do you have another guitar like a Strat which is more travel worthy? Do you have a gig bag so you can try bringing the guitar with you on the plane?
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2011
  6. theruley

    theruley Member

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    The Great White North
    bring a tele...ever see "united breaks guitars" on yootoob?
     
  7. rabbuhl

    rabbuhl Member

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    Strat is cheaper cuz you don't need to build a deck first. :facepalm
     
  8. Nico.

    Nico. Member

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    Location:
    Buenos Aires, Argentina
    You will have to check it in a hardshell. Use the one that will protect the guitar the best, don't worry about the tolex, because you might have the guitar damaged for protecting the case! If you do don't lock it, and put that plastic wrap around

    Also, don't detune the guitar at all, if you do loosen the truss rod (Again not neccesary)

    If I were you I'd get it in a gig bag and on the plane... Sometimes I can't do that because I have someone else bring me the guitar. I have flown more than 10 times in long flights from the US and Europe to Argentina. Never with a single issue, doing the above stuff.
     
  9. MikeMcK

    MikeMcK Supporting Member

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    Jersey shore
    In case push ever comes to shove, this never passed. The House did pass it but the Senate never even took it up.
     
  10. Tonekat

    Tonekat Supporting Member

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    Northern Virginia
    I always thought Bill Kirchen had the right idea: A telecaster with machine screw inserts in the body to receive also matching neck screws. Loosen the strings, take the screws out, put folded guitar in suitcase. Reassemble at destination.
     
  11. 27sauce

    27sauce Supporting Member

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  12. Jon C

    Jon C Silver Supporting Member

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    having your guit in a gig bag gives you no real advantage, the gate/plane crew don't have to care whether you have a gig bag or not ... i.e., even a gig bag may not be accepted as carry-on because it plainly exceeds the carryon standards, so you are still at the mercy of the gate crew.

    The AFM letters, etc., don't guarantee your guitar a place in the cabin, they just make it permissible and the exception for "the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo set forth by the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration" is big enough to drive a truck through.

    I have usually gotten lucky but I never assume my guitar will make it on board and I'd pass on taking a LP unless it was in an ATA-rated flight case in the cargo hold (imo).

    My foolproof method was the Gatton/Kirchen method, a take-apart Tele w/ neck inserts, inside a gig bag folded in half (therefore complying with carryon bag dimension limits). Now, though, you'll likely have to check your screwdriver in a carry on bag to reassemble at your destination.

    good luck.
     
  13. SUBmariner

    SUBmariner Member

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    Location:
    Kingman AZ
    I would avoid flying with an expensive guitar if at all possible, particularly a fragile one. Bring a cheap (cheaper) guitar, or borrow something at your destination.

    I flew with an SG one time, it was in a HSC, I got it on board and it went the closet up front.

    I flew with a Yam semi-hollow once, also in a HSC, it went in the overhead bin.

    I flew with a Fender Precision several times, it got checked. HSC of course. No harm befell it.

    I fly with a Baby Taylor from time to time in the Taylor soft case, never had a problem getting it on the plane, usually winds up in the closet up front.

    Good luck. Suggest, again, a cheaper guitar and save yourself the worries.
     
  14. sonic_777111

    sonic_777111 Member

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    Location:
    Florida
    What airline are you flying? If you can possibly take Southwest, do it - their musical instruments policy is quite straightforward: your guitar counts as your one allowed personal item.

    Last I checked, anyway.
     

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