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Feb 19, 2018 - 6:13:17 AM
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15039 posts since 12/2/2005

Khashyar, I'm aware of your situation, having read about it in the other thread. And I'm flattered that you'd seek my guidance on this, but I must say I can only offer limited advice here; this thread is based upon research, both academic and personal experience, with domestic US flagged airline travel (the type I do). Suggestions related to foreign-flagged lines are limited to anecdotes provided by others.

US airlines are bound by certain federal policies that may or may not be mirrored with foreign-flagged lines such as Emirates. Were I a betting man, I'd assume they are not. Our banjos and guitars are outside of normal size requirements here in the US, and our ability to carry them on board was previously one of individual airline policy and, subsequent to the FAA reauthorization act, specific exceptions related to musical instruments. Some non-US airlines may have similar rules, but I wouldn't bet on it. Were Emirates to allow you to carry it on, especially in light of the policy you found, it would almost certainly be the result of a customer service exception rather than a policy. But it could happen, I suppose, especially if your flight isn't full.

So all I can really do is offer suggestions about what I might do if I were in your situation - and as the old saying goes, Your Mileage May Vary. I'm the sort of guy who can't screw the top back on a rum bottle without crossing the threads, but I might take a crash course in disassembling and reassembling a banjo and packing the pot and neck within a high-quality suitcase, well-padded by my clothing (and probably with the neck wrapped in bubble wrap and inserted into a stout PVC tube).

More likely, being a lazy sort, I'd put my hopes in the Leaf, though with a caveat: I'd attempt to get it beyond the check-in process, hoping for good luck at the gate, and being satisfied with a gate check if I got that far. I would prep for surrender at check-in as described in the original post (including instructions on how to remove the resonator).

I would absolutely attempt to get a sturdy case cover made for the Leaf if possible - and one that included backpack straps. I''ve got no experience with Leaf cases but understand them to be superb from a protection standpoint but extremely heavy - and the logic for getting one is spelled out in the original post. I doubt anyone has these on the shelf and ready to go, so my recommendation would be to find someone to make one for you TODAY. You don't have much time to pull this off.

Who could do it? If you live near a a specialty outdoor equipment maker of backpacks and the like, that'd probably be the best option. A sailmaker would be my second choice. A place that does awnings would be next. Basically, you want to find someone experienced in working with canvas (or, more accurately, its modern equivalents). You'd need to take the case to them for measurements, and promise a premium for getting it done fast.

So that's what *I* would do. Wishing you the very best of luck with this - and please do post back in this thread letting us know how it all worked out.

Feb 19, 2018 - 11:32:38 AM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Dave1climber

The only recommendation that I have is to remove the screws that hold the resonator on. I recall someone posting about the baggage inspectors damaging a resonator by prying it off of the banjo.


Thank you, Dave. That's a good suggestion.

I started another thread about flying with the Mark Leaf case (https://www.banjohangout.org/topic/340065/#4299587), and a couple of BH members mention that there have been reports of cracked and broken necks of banjos checked-in in Mak Leaf cases.

So, I'm re-thinking that option, and may buy a newer flight case like a Calton (available in music stores now) or Hoffee (which need to e special ordered).

Feb 19, 2018 - 11:42:53 AM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

I appreciate the thoughtful advice, Skip.

Yes, having a case cover made ASAP is a good idea... I can check to see if this is possible in my area (Fredericksburg, VA).

The Mark Leaf case is so heavy (and an awkward size) that I have my doubts that it would fit in an overhead bin... It might be better to buy a smaller Calton Case (which are in stock in some music stores) and try to carry that on.

And, in my other thread, I mentioned a plan of carrying the banjo in a very padded Blue Heron soft bag (that I recently purchased and that has back pack straps) and also check in the Mark Leaf as a backup. (I'll post photos of the Blue Heron).

I'm going to think about this today, and then make a decision ASAP.

Until today, I felt comfortable about the Mark Leaf "tank" case, but then two BH members mentioned that Mark Leaf cases being checked in have resulted in occasional cracked necks - I want to avoid that risk if at all possible.

Thank you again for your reply and this very thorough and informative thread.


Feb 19, 2018 - 12:44:54 PM
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4555 posts since 6/3/2011

If there is the slightest possibility that your banjo will have to be either gate checked or baggage checked I would not arrive at the airport with it in a soft side padded banjo bag. In a standard banjo case the most important part is to have sufficient padding for the neck and peg head. Most, damage happens at the transition from the neck to peg head.

Feb 19, 2018 - 2:22:39 PM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

 

quote:
Originally posted by Dave1climber
 

If there is the slightest possibility that your banjo will have to be either gate checked or baggage checked I would not arrive at the airport with it in a soft side padded banjo bag. In a standard banjo case the most important part is to have sufficient padding for the neck and peg head. Most, damage happens at the transition from the neck to peg head.

 

 

I think you're right, Dave. I appreciate the advice...

 

 

I called Morgan Music in Lebanon, MO and bought the Calton flight case they have in stock. I will try to carry on that case, but if I can't, I can feel secure that it probably will be safe being checked in.


Edited by - KD Banjer on 02/19/2018 14:32:40

Feb 19, 2018 - 3:26:18 PM

15039 posts since 12/2/2005

Good choice. I would still get a case cover for it if you can.

Feb 20, 2018 - 11:44:20 AM

1484 posts since 3/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland

Good choice. I would still get a case cover for it if you can.


Hi Skip.. I agree... a case cover would be best... 

It doesn't see like the Colorado Case Company is in business anymore (they usually make these banjo flight case covers).

And unfortunately, I don't have time to go to a someone local to have a custom cover made.

I think for now, I will buy one or two elastic baggage straps with TSA locks, and see how this works.

One development in the most recent Calton cases is that they added a black plastic clasp guard, to protect against damage to the case clasps (which I believe was the main damage reported for these flight cases).

Jul 4, 2018 - 6:29:08 PM

388 posts since 10/23/2003

quote:
Originally posted by JohnGP

Take care if travelling to Europe or the UK - this from Ryan Air: Smaller musical items such as a cello, guitar, violin or viola which exceed our cabin baggage dimensions may be carried in the cabin if a seat for it has been reserved and the appropriate fare paid.
 

And you wouldn't believe how much they charge if you turn up with extra hold baggage, as for gate checking, forget it.
I  have been flying with guitars and banjos since 1965  I spend time in Europe every year and Ryan air is the most hostile airline to musicians on Earth,  They WILL NOT LE TYOU CHECK A BANJO OR GUITAR.  You must buy a seat for it.   I usually carry a banjo everywhere I go just to practice, but when I had to teach at a festival in England,  I had to pay for a seat to carry it.  Luckily it was a short flight from Germany and the expense money I got from the festival covered the seats for the banjo and myself.    Other than that I have been on scores of flights in Europe,  North America and Africa and just check the banjo in a TKL case, with foam or towels to make sure the banjo is snug in the case.  Loosening the strings and the head is also a good idea.   A banjo is going to go through temperature changes to the extreme as the baggage hold on a plane is not necessarily heated.   I also make sure I have several ID tags on the banjo often with both  one with my business card on it and another one with card indicating my destination residence, especially if it is to a festival, university lecture, or friend's home.   Having as many particular stickers and patches on the case so it stands out is important.   Often at major airports, the banjo will be off loaded to a special place for outsized or fragile baggage and it is good for it to stick out.  Most ideas about banjos being managled by being checked on plains is pure BS.   Other than my problem with Ryan air, I had only one problem with an instrument since 1966,  a guitar that got delivered to Cleveland instead of Richmondm but the airline retrned it to me in Richmond the next day, sending a van with it out to  my hotel in Colonial Williamsburg where I was attending a conference.


Jul 4, 2018 - 6:34:10 PM

388 posts since 10/23/2003

quote:yeah the ckser u get to the actual airplane and the people who work on it, the friendlier and the kinder they are going to be.  the worst are going to be people when you check in.   But be realistic especially when many flights to smaller airports, especially in the Appalachians  you end up on a puddle jumping little plane where the capacity to carry anything inside the plane is limited.  I live in FL and if I am going to a music festival, banjo camp, or to pick with friends in West Virginia,  Kentucky, or Mountain Tennessee I am alost always ending up either on a small plane or deciding to fly to a major town like Nashville or Raleigh and rent a car.
Originally posted by Bill Kunz

 

Great information. I recently retired from driving those airplanes for a major trunk airline and can add that it is going to ultimately be up to the flight attendants as to whether or not  in tight circumstances your banjo or other instrument ends up down below. Some F/As are wonderful and thoughtful and helpful and some are just plain cranky and hate to go to work. The latter would not help you under any circumstance.  If you have a valuable instrument then buy a real flight case  and check it. Carry your clothes in a roomy gig bag . When you get there switch em. Check your instrument insurance policy before you leave home.  I always stood by the entrance door during boarding to be there if any pickers need help with instruments and was able to move things in the right direction now and then.  If you are going to try to board an instrument just keep a big smile cooking all the way through it. If you loose it it becomes like wrestling with pigs in the mud. They like it and they will win.

 

 


Jul 4, 2018 - 6:36:16 PM

388 posts since 10/23/2003

quote:Yeah that happened to me a on a flight where I was taking my 1894 Fairbanks Electric,  I am changing planes somewhere in North Carolina for a flight deeper into the mountains.  I had the banjo in a gig bag because it is usually small enough to go in an overhead bin.  
 
Originally posted by Gary S
quote:
Originally posted by Gary S

... Second flight's overheads are too small.  ...


I should have said, "second flight's overhead isn't an option".  I took this two-flight trip once before.  You're directed to put carry-on luggage on a cart outside the plane as you board.  I'm not up for a negotiation in that situation.  Better use the flight case.

Thanks.


Jul 4, 2018 - 6:38:31 PM

388 posts since 10/23/2003

One pont on long flights it can make sense to spend the extra money on either business class and for the way extra money programs let you board the plane first.   But this is convincing me getting a Carleton is not a bad idea

Dec 18, 2018 - 8:41:42 PM
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164 posts since 9/26/2018

I’ve traveled with my banjo twice in the past month now. On Southwest, once you arrive at the airport on the day of your departure, you can purchase an upgrade on seating position for only $30. This will get you a spot within A1-A15. With that boarding position, the flight attendants just smiled and told me to stow my banjo wherever I wanted to in the overhead because, and I quote one of them verbatim, “It’s first come first serve and you’re first.”

This assumes that the $30 deal is available. It’s not guaranteed. In general, you must get a good boarding position by checking in on the dot just in case you can’t use the $30 deal. For $20 Southwest will automatically check you in, which may give you a decent position.

My flight on American was a little more risky but went smoothly. The flight attendants were friendly each leg, and stored my banjo in their front suit-check storage space for me. No need to gate check. But I almost had to.

Feb 7, 2019 - 7:53:32 AM
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Banjov1

USA

2911 posts since 2/19/2008

I posted a topic about my concerns with flying on Spirit Airlines with my banjo and I just thought I'd post my observations after the trip on this thread.

The online check in with Spirit (both ways) was a nightmare. But since everyone prepped me about accounting for additional baggage fees properly, I feel like the rest of the experience (especially in relation to the banjo) was mostly positive and I made out fairly well

I basically had 3 items... backpack, small carry on suitcase and a banjo. I had to pay for the banjo as my carry on item and had to pay and check my small suitcase. But when I paid for the carry on and check in bags I was immediately moved to "Zone 1"... the first group to board the plane. And I had no problems whatsoever bringing my banjo on board and stashing in the wide open bins above my seat for both flights.

I guess if you can just accept the fact that you have to pay for items that you don't have to pay for on most other airlines I fly (Southwest and United) and pay your baggage fees before getting to the airport (it's more expensive to do it there). It seems like the flying is mostly hassle free.

It's also important to point out that the seating was pretty uncomfortable. I'm a fairly big guy and the Spirit seats had the smallest amount of personal space I've come across. On top of that, you were required to pay for any food and drink needs on the flight.

But it's important to note, the ticket prices (even with the add on bag charges) were still cheaper then I would have paid for any other airline for this specific trip.

If I travel business again like this I'll try to avoid this airline for convenience and comfort reasons. But for personal travel, if I'm really looking for a cut rate deal and can factor in the additional baggage costs, annoying check-in issues, and uncomfortably small personal seat space, I actually might use Spirit again.

Feb 28, 2019 - 9:50:44 PM
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bellf

Australia

322 posts since 7/13/2014

Notes on flying with a banjo (international)

I traveled from Melbourne Australia to Asheville NC, with a banjo as carry on (mostly). Here’s a breakdown of how it went.
First flight: Melbourne to LA. Qantas flight. I simply walked on the plane with my banjo (Goldtone BG250F) in its hardcase. No questions were asked and I easily fit the banjo into the overhead locker.

Second Flight: LA to Charlotte, American Airlines. I tried to walk on with my banjo, but the gate agent made me gate check it. I think this was because the flight was full. When I got off the plane my banjo was waiting for me.

Third Flight: Charlotte to Asheville, American Airlines. I got the banjo onto the plane fine, but the overhead compartments were smaller in this plane, and my banjo did not fit. I asked the flight attendants for help and they very kindly made some space in the crew’s storage space.

Fourth Flight: Asheville to Charlotte. American Airlines. I took the banjo on the plane. Again, the overhead compartment was too small. The flight attendants seemed to store it under some seats.

This flight was delayed and arrived late so that I only had 15 minutes for my next flight, and I had to get a fair distance across Charlotte airport (probably a twenty minute walk). I ran with my banjo, which was quite a workout, but I made it in time.

Fifth Flight: Charlotte to LA, American Airlines. Once again, no problem getting the banjo on the plane and into the overhead compartment.

Sixth Flight: LA to Melbourne, Qantas. There was no problem with the gate agents but when I was walking onto the plane a flight attendant asked me if I had purchased a seat for my banjo. I told her I had not and she made me leave it with her to be stored below. I was annoyed by this because I knew that the banjo would fit in the overhead compartment, and it turned out that there was an empty seat next to me on the flight anyway. When I arrived in Melbourne, I had to collect the banjo from the oversize luggage collection area. The case was placed upside down - not necessarily a problem, but it does show a lack of care. The banjo was not damaged.

What to make of this? It seems the American flight attendants are much more helpful to musicians than the Australian flight attendants. Was my experience on the sixth flight bad luck, or the first flight good luck? I’ll have to fly more to find out. If others record their experiences it might help build up a picture on how to fly with a banjo internationally.

Mar 1, 2019 - 5:31:21 AM

4555 posts since 6/3/2011

I believe that on international flights that originate in the USA, that they must conform to USA rules regarding musical instruments.
If I am wrong someone will correct me.

Mar 1, 2019 - 9:25 AM

rkfan100

Australia

136 posts since 8/20/2017

I just wanted to quickly post my experiences here. I travelled from Melbourne, Australia to Chicago in two flights. Both times, I loosened the strings and removed the bridge. I had a Recording King with its original case. I have a long leather strap which I normally wrap around the resonator, compressing the case foam. Luckily, that did not result in any issues.

1st: Melbourne to LA (United) - I simply walked on with the banjo, there was enough room in the overhead lockers in economy class. I was never asked about it, other than taking it out of the case for a "random" explosives swabbing at the gate, which had extra security theatre for US-bound flights.

2nd: LA to Chicago (American Airlines) - In this case, I only had a basic economy ticket so I was boarding last. I was made to gate check it for no extra fee, as they thought there'd be no more room in the overhead lockers.
It turned out there was room. However, the banjo was waiting for me when I exited the plane with no damage.

Therefore, my international flight was a better experience, but that is just one sample.

Edited by - rkfan100 on 03/01/2019 09:26:43

Mar 6, 2019 - 9:45:53 AM

4577 posts since 3/6/2006

I'm planning a trip from Boston to Shannon, Ireland and back in May on Aer Lingus, and I'm going to take my longneck Vega tubaphone with a 25 fret neck I made, and if the homemade longneck is damaged, then I'm the one to repair it. Hopefully that won't happen, but it appears I'll have to check it at the ticket counter as their "general cabin baggage rules" sound as if they are enforced. I have checked banjos before on domestic flights, but not in the last 30+ years. I'm not worried about the exterior of the case (a TKL hardshell) and know how to pack a banjo for shipping via UPS, USPS, etc., as I have done that in the past. Has anyone out there flown Aer Lingus with a banjo, and if so, did you carry a banjo to the gate, and then onto the plane? Here is their policy:

"General Cabin Baggage Rules

Cabin baggage must meet size and weight limits which are strictly enforced at the airport.
Cabin baggage must fit inside the gauge units at the airport (including wheels and handles)."


 

Mar 8, 2019 - 4:37:13 PM

adl1132

USA

174 posts since 12/18/2012

I'm flying from Seattle to London in a few months, on British Airways, and hope to take the banjo. Any specific feedback on this airline? Also flying Rome-London and London-Seattle.

I'm planning to take the original 1990 purchase receipt as well, just in case there is any question about the origin of the rosewood fingerboard. I seem to remember a few horror stories about that sort of thing in the past.

Any advice (beyond what I've read in this thread) is very much appreciated.

Jan 2, 2020 - 8:36:19 AM

25 posts since 3/4/2013

Can you imagine trying to board a plane to a bluegrass festival with a bunch of other banjo players! Fights would break out for the overhead compartments.

Jan 28, 2020 - 7:32:42 AM
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Players Union Member

Dai Evans

Canada

43 posts since 10/4/2008

A quick update on this very useful thread.
I have recently flown with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Toronto. The airline will not carry banjos, guitars etc in the cabin, they must go in the hold. In addition, they are counted as part of your checked baggage allowance. I.e. you are allowed 2 free bags when flying to USA and Canada, so you get one bag and a banjo.

Maybe that’s why I normally fly Air Canada on that route ??

Jan 28, 2020 - 10:08:01 AM

4555 posts since 6/3/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Dai Evans

A quick update on this very useful thread.
I have recently flown with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Toronto. The airline will not carry banjos, guitars etc in the cabin, they must go in the hold. In addition, they are counted as part of your checked baggage allowance. I.e. you are allowed 2 free bags when flying to USA and Canada, so you get one bag and a banjo.

Maybe that’s why I normally fly Air Canada on that route ??


Hong Kong to Toronto, departure and arrival not USA, not bound by FAA rules.

Jan 28, 2020 - 1:32:08 PM
Players Union Member

Dai Evans

Canada

43 posts since 10/4/2008

quote
Originally posted by Dai Evans
A quick update on this very useful thread.
I have recently flown with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Toronto. The airline will not carry banjos, guitars etc in the cabin, they must go in the hold. In addition, they are counted as part of your checked baggage allowance. I.e. you are allowed 2 free bags when flying to USA and Canada, so you get one bag and a banjo.

Maybe that’s why I normally fly Air Canada on that route ??

Hong Kong to Toronto, departure and arrival not USA, not bound by FAA rules.


Good luck if you are flying from USA, if you are flying from Hong Kong, no chance. Cathay stick to what is on their website

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