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Flying Internationally with Keyboards

Discussion in 'Keyboards' started by Mishka, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Mishka

    Mishka Member

    Feb 6, 2018
    Hi everyone!

    I'm wondering how many of you fly with your keyboards?
    This is a problem I often encounter, as a lot of my work is flying to various far-flung destinations, and the venue/client I'm working for almost never provide keyboards. Hiring is often out of the question too, as a lot of places I work (China, SE Asia, UAE) don't have these sorts of music-hiring businesses, and I'm usually travelling for quite an extended period (ie 4 to 6 months) so it isn't financially worth it either!

    So.... I'm stuck taking my keyboard(s) on the plane. I've found that the airline check-in baggage restrictions are one of the following:

    1. Total allowed baggage is measured by weight (often 30kg total). This usually works out well as I can take my keyboard, but usually have very little weight left over (for 6 months of clothes and everything else I need for living abroad for extended periods), as you typically can't add an extra bag. Instead, usually you have to pay per kg and it gets expensive really quickly!

    2. Total dimensions (length + height + width = total dimension) of 200cm, often up to 23kg per bag. Usually means I can JUST take one keyboard in a flight case (Nord Stage 3 Compact in something like Gator GTSA-KEY 61 or Pelican 1750), but I have to be choosy with what keyboards would be small enough. While there are a lot of lightweight keyboard, the list becomes a lot shorter with what the gig requirements are (often very synth-heavy, live-oriented interface). Any weighted keyboard (possible exception of Roland RD-64) is out of the question either by size, weight or both.

    3. Total dimensions (length + height + width = total dimension) of 158cm, often up to 23kg per bag. Now this...... is the killer. And it is becoming more and more typical. Cue rant...

    This is reasonably fair measurement for a typical cuboid suitcase, but does not work well for keyboards (which have a smaller volume than a suitcase, but are long and thin).

    For a “total dimension” of 158cm there is no 73-note keyboard that will fit this, even without a case.
    On top of that, it is becoming very common to slap on an oversized luggage fee (with the usual definition of oversized being any luggage longer than 1 meter). Reeeeeeee

    If you do want to travel internationally with something over their dimensions, they will tell you to send it as air freight (which needs to be arranged waaaay in advance, is incredibly expensive as the smallest unit available will be about 20 times what you need for your keyboard, and because it is a service used so rarely you’ll be lucky if you can get in touch with anyone at all. I’ve spent hours on hold to no avail).

    If someone knows a good way to travel internationally with keyboards, please let me know! I’ve been taking a 73-note keyboard in a Pelican 1750 case around the world for years, but this change of baggage policy is really bad news…. seemingly without a solution!
  2. Allthesound

    Allthesound Silver Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2012
    Maybe you can try and track a Infinite Response VAX77 down and pair it with a sound module.

  3. Mishka

    Mishka Member

    Feb 6, 2018
    Thanks for your response @Allthesound!

    Yes I did actually consider this particular keyboard once-upon-a-time....
    While it is a great product, I wrote it off for a few reasons; namely its difficult to find, still quite heavy, and I try to go hardware where possible (while I do have experience gigging with Mainstage/iOS synths, I don't find them to be cost effective or stable compared to hardware...YMMV).

    In this realm, I see a few "modular" keyboard products becoming available:


    I am intrigued by the sheer versatility offered by Yamaha's MODX series, but the smallest flight case I can find that would fit a MODX6 (either an SKB iSeries 61-Note, or Pelican 1720) still goes over the "total dimensions" limit of 158cm.

    I'm thinking about ditching my Nord Stage 3 compact for a Nord Electro 61 (either the 5D or 6D), which could squeeze into a Pelican 1700, Gator TSA-49, or maaaaaaybe an SKB iSeries 49-note. All those cases just fit the airline baggage limit, and the Peli and SKB are even under 1 meter long (which is usually how airlines decide if your bag is "oversized"; ie another way to slap on an extra fee).

    Its obviously a step down in versatility to downgrade from a Stage to an Electro, but to be honest I feel the synth section in the Stage can be far outclassed by either Mainstage, iOS (probably using AUM or Audiobus), or even a polysynth module (such as Virus Snow, Deepmind 12D, Roland Boutique etc etc). Only downside is no Pitch Bend/Mod Wheels on Electro.....

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