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 Post subject: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 12:14 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:39 pm
Posts: 228
Apologies for the length of this, but I thought it might be of interest to anyone who faces an airline flight with a precious hand-made guitar. This month I took one of my recently completed first-builds to play at my son's wedding in Dublin, Ireland. I encountered quite a variety of airline policies and performance in handling the guitar. To begin, Air Canada is clear on its web site that you normally can't take a guitar on the plane, and MAY have to pay $100 each way to check it as an extra bag. I was concerned about checking it. I could have used the older but very well built case for my L'arrivée, but got lucky and bought one on Amazon.ca. I considered a moulded case but found them expensive, and I confess I like the look of an archtop wood case better. I bought a Guardian case that fits my guitar well. Amazon sells it for about $260 CAD but for some reason I got it for $130, free shipping. I was pleased because it is an archtop case, with seven-ply wood construction, extra padding, six latches, limited lifetime warranty, so I thought a well made case. I live on Vancouver Island, and when travelling by air I usually take a short flight to Vancouver to connect. Air Canada uses Dash-8 turboprops for this service. There is limited space for carry-on luggage, so larger items are placed on a cart and loaded into the hold. Some time during this process, my case was damaged, with the bottom of the case split away from the side along about 5-6 inches (see photo). I can't imagine how it could have been mishandled in this way. But the guitar was undamaged, fortunately. (I will notify Air Canada about this.) On the next leg, Air Canada said I could "gate check" it, leave it at the desk, like a baby stroller, say, and pick it up at the desk coming off the plane. That worked okay. For the Toronto to Dublin leg, I was told, "No, just put it in the overhead compartment." It did fit in there, although obviously too long to be legal. That was great. On the return leg, we flew Aer Lingus (an Air Canada "partner") to London. Checking in as a now-experienced traveller-with-a-guitar, I asked if I should take it on the plane, or gate check it. Well, that airline has a policy that no hard cases are allowed on the plane, because apparently a few years back one fell out of the overhead during some turbulence and injured a passenger. So it had to be checked with other bags, but as "oversize" luggage like golf clubs. It was checked through that way on Air Canada from London to Vancouver, and Vancouver to Nanaimo, our "home" airport. The good news is that it arrived safely, with only a couple of new minor dings, and I was not charged for checking the bag. So no matter how carefully you plan, in the end you find yourself dealing with varying regulations, varying employee attitudes, and can't really count on anything. You just have to cross your fingers. Bruce Whittington.


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:10 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Just be glad it got loaded onto the right plane every time, and didn't end up in Japan!

As for baggage handling procedures, they're a bit like making sausage -- something you might be better off not watching. Obviously, when you can keep it in your possession at all times, that is better, but for larger instruments (baritone saxophone, tuba, upright bass for example) the airlines will often make you buy a second seat for the instrument.

I had a tenor sax get pretty banged up by flying with it, but admittedly the case was already in pretty rough shape and it didn't secure the instrument properly at all. I patched it up and used it because I needed it immediately, and didn't get around to fixing it properly for ten years or so when I bought another of the same model that had been smashed up in a completely different way, and swapped parts between them.

Another bit of experience I can share is to not use gaffer tape to patch the case up, or if you do, remember it's for temporary rigging, like maybe two weeks. If left on for months, it will leave adhesive behind. If left on for years, the adhesive will become a hard but crumbly white coating, and the tape itself will fall off. This is exceptionally difficult to remove.


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 6:09 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2014 12:14 pm
Posts: 1330
HYer's what Tom Paxton had to say about guitars and airlines:


Thank You Republic Airlines
Words and Music by Tom Paxton

Flying through the Michigan skies with a song in my innocent heart,
I placed myself in professional hands, masters of the traveler's art.
When I opened my guitar case at the end of a beautiful flight,
I'm sure you can imagine my feelings, as I beheld this beautiful sight…

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for breaking the neck on my guitar.
I arrived to do a concert with the Kingston Trio,
Opened my guitar case with a smile ‘con brio’.
Thank you, Republic Airlines, What a joy to a musician you are!
What a zest you've added to pedestrian skies,
It was boring to be flying where the wild goose flies,
But the tedium was broken by your wonderful surprise,
When you broke the neck on my guitar.

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for treating my instrument with care.
There can be no greater happiness for the musician,
Than to find his instrument in this condition.
Uh-oh, Republic Airlines, in the firmament of travel, you're a star,
For you treat each piece of baggage like a child of your own,
When you come across an instrument, it's dropped like a stone,
May you waken every morning with a new broken bone,
Like you broke the neck on my guitar.

Now I've been traveling most of my life, and the thrill is a long time gone.
And the sight of another DC 10 just fails to turn me on.
But I feel my heart start pounding when I get to the baggage claim,
and when I see how you handled my instrument, the thrill is still the same.

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for splintering the neck on my guitar!
My guitar case was so strong that nothing could go through it,
Way to go Republic, only you could do it,
Crash bang, Republic Airlines, in the field of demolition, you'll go far!
For you took it as a challenge when I turned in my case.
and you saw the fragile stickers glued all over the place,
May a team of mad flamenco dancers do to your face
What you did to the neck on my guitar!

There could no satisfaction greater than if,
You should be the next to go the way of Braniff!
Thanks to Jan for the transcription!

_________________
Don't believe everything you know.
Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.
When things are bad, try not to make them any worse, because it is quite likely they are bad enough already. - French Foreign Legion


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:15 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 2283
Mal-2 wrote:
Just be glad it got loaded onto the right plane every time, and didn't end up in Japan!


Ain't THAT the truth!


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2018 9:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:13 pm
Posts: 2283
MaineGeezer wrote:
HYer's what Tom Paxton had to say about guitars and airlines:


Thank You Republic Airlines
Words and Music by Tom Paxton

Flying through the Michigan skies with a song in my innocent heart,
I placed myself in professional hands, masters of the traveler's art.
When I opened my guitar case at the end of a beautiful flight,
I'm sure you can imagine my feelings, as I beheld this beautiful sight…

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for breaking the neck on my guitar.
I arrived to do a concert with the Kingston Trio,
Opened my guitar case with a smile ‘con brio’.
Thank you, Republic Airlines, What a joy to a musician you are!
What a zest you've added to pedestrian skies,
It was boring to be flying where the wild goose flies,
But the tedium was broken by your wonderful surprise,
When you broke the neck on my guitar.

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for treating my instrument with care.
There can be no greater happiness for the musician,
Than to find his instrument in this condition.
Uh-oh, Republic Airlines, in the firmament of travel, you're a star,
For you treat each piece of baggage like a child of your own,
When you come across an instrument, it's dropped like a stone,
May you waken every morning with a new broken bone,
Like you broke the neck on my guitar.

Now I've been traveling most of my life, and the thrill is a long time gone.
And the sight of another DC 10 just fails to turn me on.
But I feel my heart start pounding when I get to the baggage claim,
and when I see how you handled my instrument, the thrill is still the same.

Thank you, Republic Airlines, for splintering the neck on my guitar!
My guitar case was so strong that nothing could go through it,
Way to go Republic, only you could do it,
Crash bang, Republic Airlines, in the field of demolition, you'll go far!
For you took it as a challenge when I turned in my case.
and you saw the fragile stickers glued all over the place,
May a team of mad flamenco dancers do to your face
What you did to the neck on my guitar!

There could no satisfaction greater than if,
You should be the next to go the way of Braniff!
Thanks to Jan for the transcription!


Haha!


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 5:10 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 09, 2008 8:06 pm
Posts: 3050
Location: Visalia, CA
I've had 3 guitars taken to India. 2 of them they were able to carry them on for most of the flights. One had to be checked. Thankfully they all arrived undamaged. Another one will be taken the end of May to India, same airlines, so hoping they can carry this one on also. Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airlines.
I've had 2 guitars taken to GB, both had to be checked and both made it there in one piece. I don't know what airlines were flown.

The best bet is if you can carry on, but they won't fit in an overhead, so the flight attendants must be willing to put them in the closets in First Class, in which I suppose there is always room, so don't be afraid to ask at the boarding gate.


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:22 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 08, 2013 11:39 pm
Posts: 228
Follow up on this: Air Canada responded within a week (they said 30 working days) and is sending a cheque for the cost of a new guitar case, plus a discount voucher for a flight for up to four people. I can't complain about that response! Now I am considering repairing the damaged case. I found a very helpful web site for just that here:
http://www.stevekirtley.org/caserepair.htm. If I proceed with this, maybe I will put something in the repairs section.


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:05 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:56 am
Posts: 104
Good to hear you got a fair deal without a nasty fight.


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 Post subject: Re: Airlines and Guitars
PostPosted: Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:02 pm 
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Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2011 9:13 pm
Posts: 200
Anybody remember Dave Carroll and his YouTube videos about how "United Breaks Guitars"?

As for Aer Lingus, a friend of mine who plays the folk harp wanted to bring it aboard one of their flights. It wouldn't fit into the standard dimension things, but the airline told her not to worry; they'd find room for the harp in the cockpit if they had to. They take their national symbol very seriously, it seems. If only some airline had guitars painted on their tails...


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