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Kassie Jones - a masterpiece. Most surreal version of the Casey Jones theme. Keeps digressing into talk of other things. Freudian dream imagery - John Fahey, on Furry Lewis

Author Topic: Flying with guitars  (Read 1956 times)

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Offline Pan

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Flying with guitars
« on: July 12, 2010, 01:51:30 AM »
I saw this on another forum, and thought that anyone who flies with guitars, or knows people who do, might be interested in this petition.
And yes, I know about the "United breaks guitars" YouTube video. :)

BTW, you don't have to be a musician to sign.

http://www.afm.org/departments/legislative-office/carrying-instruments-on-airplanes

Cheers and safe flying to you and your instruments!

Pan


Offline Rivers

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2012, 05:23:24 PM »
Good news on a FAA rule change, with a rider that it has to fit in the overhead or under the seat but nonetheless probably indicates a general easing: http://afm.org/news/the-afm-applauds-passage-of-faa-bill

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2012, 05:35:41 AM »
Maybe you could fit a guitar case under the seat in first class, but the last plane I was on, the seating was so compact you couldn't even fit a briefcase under the seat. And to get a guitar into overhead bins, you'd have to have someone wheel you in in a wheelchair (assisted boarding still goes first, I think) to find enough room before all the businessmen with their monster bags board. It's still better to be a flutist if you plan to travel by airplane.

Lyle

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 12:00:07 PM »
So now if you happen to have a guitar small enough to fit in overhead luggage bins you can get it to a checkpoint where it will be impounded for having a rosewood bridge? Fuck all this shit! I will NEVER fly with a good guitar again. In the days I did it regularly my Martin received numerous cracks. What makes sense here folks is for us to have an international guitar player exchange, so that if say Professor Scratchy hops the pond and comes to NY he gets to borrow a Weenie guitar of equivalent value and performance quality to his own and likewise if I am playing in his town I get to do the same. This is of course not perfect, everyone has their guitars set up according to their preference but the idea of pick up, drop off and not having to worry about the airplane part of it all is a compelling argument.
Insurance stuff would have to be worked out in advance but I can't imagine it would cost too much.
Any takers?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Pan

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2012, 01:25:12 PM »
Last time I flew to Helsinki. they didn't allow me to take in the little Stella (which fits the overhead compartment beautifully), claiming that the plane was so full, there wouldn't be enough space for it.
Reluctantly, I let them take the guitar. I had fortunately loosened the strings, and padded the headstock well with crumbled newspapers.
When we arrived at Helsinki, I opened the case to see if the guitar was okay, which it was, except that it was completely frozen, and I could literally see the frost melting away, wetting the guitar.
I, of course, shouldn't have opened the case right away, but how else could I see if the guitar was intact, and if I should make a claim to the air company? Fortunately, now harm was done to the guitar, as I wiped the excess moisture away.
Another thing is if you have to change planes. In my experience they WILL lose your luggage practically EVERY TIME , if you change planes in hurry on a busy airport, such as Heathrow in London, or Schiphol in Amsterdam. In most of the cases you'll get it back within a few days, but if you have a gig booked the night you arrive, it doesn't help much. And you'll never know in what conditions the luggage will be stored before they deliver it.

Pan

Offline Pan

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 01:33:44 PM »
Oh, and on another trip I could see from the airport bus window the luggage handlers throwing luggage from a cart to a conveyor belt from about 3 or 4 meters away. Maybe they wouldn't have done that to an instrument, but who knows? They shouldn't do that with any luggage, if you ask me! Fortunately, this time I was traveling without an instrument.

Pan

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 02:13:04 PM »
On one non-musical trip, I was in a window seat, watching the luggage being loaded. A guitar, in an ordinary case, made it almost to the top of the conveyer before it fell off onto the tarmack. I hope it was a cheapo, but whatever it was, it was busted up badly.

As to an instrument source, I don't know how one would organize an exchange system, but if anyone is coming to Minneapolis or St. Paul, and needs to borrow an instrument, contact me and maybe we can work something out. I don't have that 1958 Stella any more, however.

Lyle

Offline Rivers

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 04:35:27 PM »
I saw a '48 Gibson archtop in a soft case first get dropped on the conveyor then tossed ten feet through the air into a cargo hold at San Jose AP once. Even worse, it was mine. Miraculously it emerged unscathed at LAX, and in fact made it all the way to New Zealand. I sold it, in perfect nick, to a local musician just last week actually.

Lyle I didn't mean to imply you could fit a guitar under a seat! I was thinking squeezeboxes, mandos, fiddles, and other, small instruments. The general point I was trying to make is there has been some easing and you might get lucky if the flight isn't full. Up until the rule change you had to check your instrument, now there is some latitude. Before 911 I'd flown several times with a 000 in the overhead, and one time in the coat closet, courtesy of very nice checkin people and cabin crew.

Sorry but O'Muck's instrument exchange concept is the silliest idea I've heard today!  O0

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2012, 04:44:57 PM »
I don't know if "silly" is the right word, but it would definitely require a high degree of trust between musicians. Eric Thompson once generously  lent me his F-4 mandolin to play on stage.  If I had dropped it, my great-grandchildren would be paying on it long after I'm dead.

Lyle

Offline Rivers

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2012, 04:49:41 PM »
Another thing is if you have to change planes. In my experience they WILL lose your luggage practically EVERY TIME , if you change planes in hurry on a busy airport, such as Heathrow in London, or Schiphol in Amsterdam. In most of the cases you'll get it back within a few days, but if you have a gig booked the night you arrive, it doesn't help much. And you'll never know in what conditions the luggage will be stored before they deliver it.

I've never had that problem flying into and out of the States. LAX is a total complicated zoo, and I'm always relieved, particularly when on a trip with connecting flights, when I see the guitar case appear on the baggage claim conveyor at the destination. So far so good, maybe I've just been lucky, hope I'm not tempting fate here.

[edit: I just re-read your post Pan. You're referring to changing flights in the middle of a trip. I can easily understand how that could be a risky thing to do, your package might already be aboard a different airplane at that point. BTW cargo holds are usually heated and always pressurized. Clearly yours wasn't heated sufficiently]
« Last Edit: February 11, 2012, 05:04:47 PM by Rivers »

Offline Pan

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2012, 05:49:07 PM »
Well, we've had several experiences in a row, when our luggage has not made the change of planes in time.  If possible we now try to avoid changing planes within european flights; even if it's cheaper, the extra hassle is just not worth it, unless you have plenty of time between the flights.  Hanging around airports is not my idea of great fun either. At least pack a pair of socks, underwear and a toothbrush in your hand-luggage. At a recent trip, the airline informed us a week before the trip, that the return flight had been changed from a direct flight to one with connection. We had booked much earlier, to get a good deal. Of course, we could have had our money back, but with the time limit, finding a direct flight that wasn't going to be much more expensive would have been very difficult.

Flying used to be somewhat a special and rare luxury event; now they treat you like cattle. 

To get back on guitars, The Brunner "outdoor guitars" look interesting, as a travel guitar option. Unfortunately they are quite expensive, and of course, any guitar can be destroyed, if the airport personnel is determined enough.

http://brunner-guitars.com/flash/index.html

Pan

p.s. I'll lend my guitars to Mr. O'Muck, or any other trusted Weenie member, if they happen to stray in my neck of woods, providing, of course,  that I can make it to the gig, and that they can play my cheapo instruments with my set-up.

I'll leave you with this Irish comment on the subject:


Offline Johnm

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2012, 05:52:07 PM »
Hi all,
I've had good luck being able to carry on right through the recent years on international flights--on domestic flights, even when there is room for the guitar to be stowed, it's been more on a case-by-case basis.  It actually is very good to have a formal policy saying they must allow to carry on if there is room in the overhead to store your instrument.
If you have to fly with a guitar, it is essential that you have a flight case that protects the instrument adequately.  Thinking your instrument is going to receive some kind of careful special handling is delusional.  I've seen baggage handlers be positively jolly in the way they toss instruments around.

Pan and Rivers speak to a problem that I'm actually much more concerned about when I fly:  whether or not my instrument will make all the connections I've been booked to make on my itineraries.  The primary problem with instruments arriving on flights other than the one that you come in on is that baggage claim areas in most airports in the U.S. at this time have zero security.  This happened to me in the mid-90s when I was forced to change planes and airlines en route home due to an equipment failure on the plane I was meant to be on, and my guitar, not having made the connection to the new flight, came in on a later flight and was stolen from baggage claim at my home airport, Sea-Tac (Seattle-Tacoma).  Through a complicated chain of events, I was able to recover it several months later, which almost never happens, but I think in that event I used up probably a lifetime's worth of luck in this regard.

For years, I have never asked if I can carry on--I just take the guitar to the departure gate and wait for someone to tell me that I may not carry it on.  Then I gate check it, emphasizing and making sure that I'll receive it the destination gate--NOT BAGGAGE CLAIM, and I've had no problems doing it this way.  Even under the best of circumstances, traveling with an instrument you value is nerve-wracking, and Lyle is right, the flute players, fiddlers and mandolin players made the right choice of instrument for this particular situation.

All best,
Johnm

Offline Pan

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2012, 06:20:19 PM »
Then I gate check it, emphasizing and making sure that I'll receive it the destination gate--NOT BAGGAGE CLAIM, and I've had no problems doing it this way.

Excellent advice!

Cheers

Pan

Offline Lyle Lofgren

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2012, 06:54:07 PM »
Most likely you've all seen this YouTube performance of "United Breaks Guitars," but in case you haven't, it's close to perfection. I still look at it a couple of  times a year, and it makes me smile every time.



Lyle

Offline Rivers

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Re: Flying with guitars
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2012, 08:13:44 PM »
That was a good video since it created a lot of awareness of the problem that the industry needed to hear.

Ironically though my own best experiences, when I lived down under, with international cabin crew and check-in were on UA / Air NZ codeshares across the Pacific with connections to other US cities. The 'flying archtop' episode I recounted was on an internal commuter flight on some other outfit from SJ to LAX. It was the pits in all respects, other than not crashing, thankfully.

 


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