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Old 11-12-2014, 08:12 AM   #1
andriusd
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Carrying a guitar on a plane as a checked in baggage (USA to Europe)

I bought aneck-through-body guitar and it's currently in the USA with my brother, and I live in Europe. I'll be going on a trip to the USA soon. So the dilemma is: do I ship it to Europe via UPS or other services or do I take it on a plane with me as a checked baggage in an SKB case.

I know there are lots of discussions about local US flights and how they take their guitars with them as hand luggage and so on, but this is an international flight with two transfers. So can I trust the airline with my guitar in an SKB case? The airline in question is Lufthansa (by the way, there will be one transfer in the USA and one in Germany). What are the chances my guitar will break in an SKB case, especially since it's a neck-though-body? And what are the chances Lufthansa will misplace my package and send it on an other plane?

Shipping it to Europe is not as painless as it might seem, because I reckon it might cost around 500 just for shipping and then taxes (something like 23 percent). So while this guitar is not expensive, it is valuable to me (and it cannot be easily replaced because that model is not in production anymore), but on the other hand, paying half the price of it just to get it where I live, doesn't seem fair to me... That's why I am considering carrying it on the plane.
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:42 AM   #2
icanhasgodmode
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Took a flight from Colorado to Amsterdam with my Les Paul, no worries with my SKB case. You take it with you as hand luggage and leave it at the door of the plane (like baby carriages).
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:54 AM   #3
sam b
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What are the dimensions and weight of it?
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Old 11-12-2014, 08:58 AM   #4
andriusd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sam b
What are the dimensions and weight of it?


I don't know yet, but it's going to be in a rectangular hardshell case. From what they told me on the phone, I don't think they'll allow me to take it with me as as hand baggage in a soft case.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:13 AM   #5
icanhasgodmode
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You'll need a hard shell case, just to be sure. If you put your guitar in an overhead compartment (if they even allow you to), somebody can place their heavy bag on top of it and maybe damage your guitar.
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Old 11-12-2014, 09:52 AM   #6
Diamond Dave
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I've seen acoustic guitars in hard cases go in the overhead lockers, but don't take that as a guarantee of anything...
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:04 AM   #7
Rickholly74
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I think it could go with checking it as luggage if you just pack it really well inside with old towels, rags or any packing material. Be sure to loosen the strings completely so there is no neck tension. As far as I know luggage compartments on planes are not pressurized so you don't want any problems that could occur at 30,000 feet or while being tossed around by the ground crew. Not all SKB case are the same so be sure yours is road worthy. Think of something like a heavy 50 pound suitcase sitting on the SKB case that you are using. I would also suggest you put some serious duct tape around the case so it will be more difficult to open. The more it doesn't resemble a guitar the better chances it won't get "lost" with other luggage. I have done some international travel very recently (Hong Kong, South Korea, Beijing) and the airlines seem to be much more restrictive than I have experienced in years past in regard to carry on stuff. If it's carry on be prepared for a thorough search of the case and donít put a tuner inside of the case. My friend did that and they actually took the tuner apart and broke it putting it back together. As far as carry on in general, I think an SKB case will be too long for most carry-on luggage compartments. I didn't know about the area for things like baby strollers but that sounds like an excellent option if the airline has a place for that. You might just want to contact the airline. Good luck.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:13 AM   #8
xxdarrenxx
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I'm not sure if they take it as hand baggage.

Even with flights within Europe I sometimes have to hand it over to a steward who safeguards it at the front off the plane, and can't carry it overhead. The steward shown me the place where he puts it and it seems safe enough. This is with KLM Airline though, and they are considered to have fairly responsible and good service, but is not the cheapest of airlines.

There are options to carry it as extra baggage, but expect 50+ perhaps even 100+ fee.

Anecdotally, when waiting for a plane, from my observation it's about 50/50 whether the baggage guys (lightly) toss them or handle with care.

Last edited by xxdarrenxx : 11-12-2014 at 10:16 AM.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:16 AM   #9
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Whether or not you can take the guitar as hand luggage completely depends on the airline's policy. I think there are special rules governing the transportation of musical instruments on aircraft because of their fragile nature. But you'll need to look that up yourself.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rickholly74
As far as I know luggage compartments on planes are not pressurized

I don't think this is true. just from the fact that in the cases of cargo doors opening unintentionally mid-flight always causes explosive decompression. That would never happen if the cargo hold wasn't pressurised.

Not to mention that people take their pets on cargo holds on planes all the time. They'd all die if it wasn't pressurised.

Last edited by T00DEEPBLUE : 11-12-2014 at 10:21 AM.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xxdarrenxx
I'm not sure if they take it as hand baggage.

Even with flights within Europe I sometimes have to hand it over to a steward who safeguards it at the front off the plane.

There are options to carry it as extra baggage, but expect 50+ perhaps even 100+ fee.

Anecdotally, when waiting for a plane, from my observation it's about 50/50 whether the baggage guys (lightly) toss them or handle with care.

I spent some time watching those guys when I took a flight to Spain in the summer. At one point a bag got stuck on the conveyor belt (it was jammed against a rail or something). Instead of gently lifting the bag, I saw a guy kicking it repeatedly until it was no longer jammed. Not gentle kicks either. I was glad I didn't have anything important in my bags.
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Old 11-12-2014, 10:53 AM   #11
crazysam23_Atax
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I would just ship it. There's a higher chance it will arrive undamaged.

If you bring it on a plane, then don't check it. I worked as a ramp agent for almost a year at the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, and we're the guys who actually load your bags from the bag cart to the plane. Most ramp agents don't treat bags gently at all.
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Old 11-12-2014, 11:42 AM   #12
Arby911
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I'd trust Lufthansa before I'd trust UPS...
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Old 11-12-2014, 11:46 AM   #13
captainsnazz
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buy it a seat
it's the only way

gonna get smashed in hold
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Old 11-12-2014, 03:51 PM   #14
andriusd
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Officially, with Lufthansa, one can bring a hand baggage that's under a certain total length of height, length and width. The dimensions are too small for a guitar. So if they are strict Germans, I don't think it would be possible to sneak a guitar inside. Plus I have to worry about there being transfers, which means if I manage to sneak it inside the first time, I may not succeed the second or the third one, and then I wouldn't have whom to leave the guitar with (because it would be too late to check it in).

Quote:
Originally Posted by captainsnazz
buy it a seat
it's the only way

gonna get smashed in hold

Too late, because I already have non-refundable tickets and they won't sell me the seat - they only sell seats at the moment of purchase of the ticket.

Last edited by andriusd : 11-12-2014 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 11-12-2014, 03:53 PM   #15
andriusd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
I'd trust Lufthansa before I'd trust UPS...


Why?

I am also afraid of them misplacing the package so that it gets on an other plane. I flown to the USA once and one bag got lost (I don't remember the company), never found.
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Old 11-12-2014, 03:54 PM   #16
andriusd
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The problem is that UPS charges $600 for a 4-day shipping (that's the slower one) from California to where I live (Lithuania, European Union). That's insane.
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Old 11-12-2014, 05:02 PM   #17
Arby911
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andriusd
Why?

I am also afraid of them misplacing the package so that it gets on an other plane. I flown to the USA once and one bag got lost (I don't remember the company), never found.


Because in several decades of travel, I've only had 1 problem with my luggage, and it was resolved without incident. I've flown internationally on Lufthansa many times and never experienced a single problem.

Due to the sheer volume of air travel, luggage failures do occur, but as a percentage of luggage carried the concern is vanishingly small. (IMO, YMMV)

I simply no longer worry about it, and I often fly with items that are several times the value of most guitars.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/bagg...gage-1401922595

Note that "mishandled" doesn't mean lost or stolen. In fact the article goes on to say that of that small percentage, only 3% of it ends up as lost or stolen.

Now this is only for Major US carriers, but taking those numbers as a guideline, it appears that you have about a 0.14% chance of having your bag/item lost or damaged, pretty good odds in your favor.

In contrast I've seen claims based on parcel insurance rates that UPS numbers may be as high as 0.88%, over 6 times higher.

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Old 11-12-2014, 05:51 PM   #18
andriusd
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Originally Posted by Arby911
In contrast I've seen claims based on parcel insurance rates that UPS numbers may be as high as 0.88%, over 6 times higher.



Nice. What about USPS, how do you think?
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Old 11-12-2014, 05:52 PM   #19
Arby911
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andriusd
Nice. What about USPS, how do you think?


I wouldn't send a rock via USPS, but that's mostly because they have problems getting things "there" on time. For cost and if you're not in a hurry, they are hard to beat.

Not a lot of data to be found, but what I did see puts the failure rate around 1%, similar to or slightly worse than UPS. It does seem however that it's region dependent, with wealthier delivery zip codes have significantly less problems.

Last edited by Arby911 : 11-12-2014 at 05:57 PM.
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Old 11-12-2014, 06:30 PM   #20
andriusd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arby911
I wouldn't send a rock via USPS, but that's mostly because they have problems getting things "there" on time. For cost and if you're not in a hurry, they are hard to beat.

Not a lot of data to be found, but what I did see puts the failure rate around 1%, similar to or slightly worse than UPS. It does seem however that it's region dependent, with wealthier delivery zip codes have significantly less problems.


That means it kind of depends on the employess at the destination post office?
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