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I have a Ibanez SR300 bass and a hard case for it. I will be travelling from Bangalore, India to Washington DC in a couple of months and I am wondering how to take my guitar along. Can I check it in? Would it be safe? Do I have any alternatives?

I will be flying Etihad Airlines from Bangalore -> Abu Dhabi -> Washington DC.

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marked as duplicate by choster, Karlson, Dirty-flow, drat, Mark Mayo May 2 at 22:33

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Are you looking to get it it's own seat (as people often do with cellos and the like), or to have it in the cabin somewhere? –  Gagravarr May 2 at 10:03
    
Not getting its own seat, cabin baggae or somewhere! I just want to have it one piece once I land! –  Aadi Droid May 2 at 10:05
    

3 Answers 3

The first thing you have to know is that United Break Guitars. I guess the morale of the story is that if you have a large instrument that you want to keep safe during a flight, get another seat for it and strap it in.

I can tell you from a lot of reports that I read about smaller things like laptops and camera equipment that if you do not put it into a box that survives a 2-3 meter fall on concrete as well as some heavy bending forces, you better keep it with you.

The only other way to consider this is to study the liability statements of the respective airline and then make sure that their liability will cover a checked-in instrument of such value and that you are happy with a broken but refunded instrument.

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I've only flown with instruments within the US, not internationally. Checking instruments is allowed, but often involves extra fees for large instruments.

That said, the first thing to do is call the airline, and ask their policy. Find out if they routinely allow you to carry it in the cabin (rare), or if you have to check it. And if you check it, do you have to pay any extra fees. And be aware that if anything happens to your guitar while it is checked, you are in for a big fight with the airline, and you will probably lose. Checking will usually get your instrument home with you safely, but it is your riskiest option. If you look at the United Breaks Guitars link that another user posted, you find out the attitude generally taken by airlines to damaged checked baggage: deny any responsibility. Your instrument will probably not be lost, damaged, or stolen in transit, but if it is, you have very little recourse under the law.

A good second option is to ship your instrument, insured, with a reputable shipper. Within the US, I've shipped my violin UPS, and ordered a few which were shipped the same way. If they lose or damage your instrument, and you can demonstrate that it was properly packaged, they will reimburse or replace it. You can find specific policies with individual shippers as to values allowed. Just be sure to follow their guidelines and take photos when you pack. For international travel, I would definitely use this option if I couldn't carry my instrument in the cabin.

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General recommendation from the Musician's Union is to travel with it in the cabin - which may require you buying a second seat ticket.

If you can't do this, then ensure you have a robust flight case with sufficient protection - remember if this is your pride and joy, you probably want it to arrive intact.

You can typically take out extra insurance on checked luggage covering it being delivered to the same destination as you, and this is advisable, as luggage doesn't always travel on the correct flight...

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Is that MU advice about the (orchestral) double bass, or the bass guitar, which is what we're talking about here? –  AakashM May 2 at 10:49
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I'm talking about a bass guitar, however I'd be even more protective of a double bass –  Rory Alsop May 2 at 11:03
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FWIW, the bass in question costs about US$350, so buying a seat for it is probably not cost-effective. –  Tim S. May 2 at 13:28

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