Airline tips for traveling with your important gear
You’ve booked a bunch of shows on the West Coast or perhaps you’re traveling to this year’s tech conferences at SXSW in Austin or the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. You’re excited to show off your talents, but now you have to make sure your delicate equipment gets there safely.
Traveling in a plane can be a nerve-racking experience, and even more so when you’re bringing expensive musical or tech equipment for you. Now that you have safely packed your delicate product in your Encore A&S Case, the following are some steps you can take to ensure your equipment gets to your destination safely.
Know your airlines specific carry-on and storage policies
Airline attendants work long, hard hours. With so much luggage and equipment being boarded each day, don’t expect every attendant to know each rule and regulation when it comes to carrying on your A&S Encore case.
Since many gate agents and flight attendants may be unaware of the official policy regarding musical instruments, it’s important that you have a copy of the official rules printed and ready. Just go to the American Federation of Musicians website to print them out.
In addition to these FAA rules, carry a copy of the rules on size and weight from your airline’s website when you’re traveling. This saves times just in case an airline employee happens to question you about a certain carry-on item. Just hand them your copy of their carry-on rules and guidelines and you’ll be good to go.
Another helpful hint: carry a fabric measuring tape so you can prove to authorities that your instrument case is in compliance with regulations.
Keep in mind, it might cost you a bit extra to have your instrument or equipment in the cabin with you. Check your airline’s rules for oversize baggage to determine the price. There are size restrictions, too. Most US airlines specify a linear size for all carry-ons, meaning the total of length plus width plus height. If your case is larger than this, you’ll run into extra fees. For very large instruments, you may even have to purchase a second seat.
Carry-on space is extremely limited. In order to avoid checking your equipment into the general luggage area, it’s recommended you pay a bit extra for priority boarding. You want to make sure you are one of the first people on the plane so you can find the perfect overhead luggage racks to store your delicate equipment.
Some planes may have an additional closet on board for extra storage. This varies depending on the size of the aircraft, but there’s certainly no harm in asking a flight attendant if your instrument or tech equipment can be stowed there for the duration of the flight.
Do I have rights when it comes to traveling with musical equipment?
Yes. Thanks to the FFA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 musicians have much more autonomy over what they can bring with them on a flight. Here are some of the most important points:
No carry-on fee for your music
Airlines must permit you to carry on any guitar-sized instrument without charging any fee in addition to the standard carry-on fees. It just must be able to safely fit in the overhead luggage bins.
Large instruments are allowed
Big instruments like cellos are bulky. You may have thought you could never take them with you on a flight as a carry-on. In fact, you can. Airlines must allow passengers to carry their large instrument on board as long as they purchase an extra ticket.
Extremely large instruments, like upright bases, are also allowed to travel. Though they can’t stay in the cabin with you, airlines must allow you to transport extra-large instruments with the checked luggage.
In situations when your musical instrument or important equipment must be checked what should you do if you arrive at your destination and discover it’s been damaged? Airlines are responsible for damaged or lost instruments or equipment, as long as you can prove it was delivered to the airline in good condition. You don’t have to prove whether it was the airline or TSA (or someone else) who damaged it, only that the damage was done when your equipment was in the airline’s hands.
It’s a good idea to take photos of your instrument or equipment before turning it over to the airline or TSA. Then, if you open the case on arrival and discover damage, go directly to the baggage office and ask to file a claim. Carefully record the damage with your cell phone’s camera and don’t leave without completing a formal, written claim form. You may also want to file a claim with TSA if there’s a note inside your case that says they inspected it while it was traveling.
Give yourself enough time
Because of your uniqueness of your A&S Case, TSA may be inclined to inspect your carry-on luggage a bit more thoroughly. Make sure you are giving yourself more times for any sort of unforeseen inspections.
Keep in mind that certain tools of the musical trade may end up drawing suspicion. You certainly know what a reed knife, capo, or electronic tuner is, but those working for TSA might not. The best thing to do is to pack any item you believe might draw even the most minimal of suspicion in your checked luggage. This will keep from slowing down your boarding process.
Pack more than you think you need
Your instrument or equipment probably requires certain things that break or wear out often (strings, cords, plugs, sticks, picks, etc.). When you’re in a different city you don’t want to be wasting your time searching everywhere for something unique to your equipment. Make it easy on yourself and bring a supply of extras. Two extra of all your essentials should do the trick.
Since 1976, Encore A&S Cases has been protecting your valuable instruments and equipment. If you’re looking for world-class craftsmanship and the highest quality materials, turn to us. We are one of the world’s premier case suppliers. Call us at 818-768-8803 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.