What suggestions do you have for making instrument safe during travel?
1) Inspect your instrument case. It should be a hard case with a zipper or good latches that work and stay shut. If you think there might be an issue with that, purchase a luggage strap to keep the case closed. DO NOT plan on using a key to lock the latches. During security check at the airport, the latches will be broken open. Also, Murphy’s Law states that you’ll leave you key in the hotel room during a concert night.
2)If you feel you must lock your case – get a TSA approved lock. Locks and luggage straps are available at most places that sell luggage.
3) Make sure your instrument fits snugly in its case and does not shift or bump around. Vibrations on the plane and in the trailer have caused instruments to disassemble themselves! If needed, add some extra padding – (bubble wrap, towel, t-shirt) to prevent the instrument from moving around in the case.
4) If you have an expensive wooden instrument, consider purchasing “Dampit” to keep humidity stable during the flight.
5) If you have only a soft case, purchase a hard case or see if you can borrow or rent a hard case. If that’s not an option, make sure your instrument has plenty of padding protection – it will get bumped around on the plane and in the trailer. You use a soft case at your own risk.
6) Not all hard cases are equal – in 2013 we brought 3 cellos overseas, and one had a case that was somewhat flexible. The neck on that cello broke on the way over to Europe, and AGAIN on the return flight home.
7) ALL instruments get opened up by security at the airport. If your instrument gets packed in a special way, take a picture of the correctly packed instrument, print it and put it inside the case for the security agent to see. Also marking “TOP” or “THIS SIDE UP” or “OPEN THIS SIDE” on the outside of the case may help insure that your case is opened correctly.
Posted in: Traveling with Instruments