USA Travel with instrument advice

USA Travel with instrument advice

I am requesting current "real world" experience in carrying on and traveling domestically within the USA with instruments, specifically my Saltarelle box in the next few weeks. I haven’t carried an instrument in the past couple of years so my past experience may not apply

In the past I have had no issues going to Ireland, LaGuardia, Philadelphia and Chicago Midway. Though about 5 years did have an Eastern European TSA guy want to dismantle the box, until a sensible supervisor stepped in

Has anyone traveled recently? I am flying Southwest to Seattle (SEATAC). Southwest has always been very instrument friendly as I fly them regularly for work and see many instruments. But TSA seems very schizophrenic of late.

Any advice most appreciated

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

There’s no guarantee but I’ve never had a problem carrying instruments. I would carry the box in a padded gig bag though, rather than in a hard case. Easier to stow above the seats.

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

FWIW, I just flew from DFW to Boston (on my way to Ireland) last month, and carried my pipes as carry-on, in a viola case that is longer than allowed for standard carry-on. No one at either airline (Jet Blue and Aer Lingus) batted an eye at the viola case, I just walked on and stowed it overhead on both airplanes. Although the viola case isn’t shaped like a viola, I guess it still looks enough like an instrument case to be somewhat obvious.

But more to your point, the TSA at DFW airport had clearly never ever seen uilleann pipes before, and when the case went through x-ray and they saw all the long more-or-less tubular bits, they quickly pulled them aside and (eventually) had me open the case. Surprisingly, they did not make me take the pipes out of the case, they only wanted to look inside, know what they were, and to wipe their little bomb-sniffing pad inside the case. As soon as that came up negative, I was good to go. The only bad part about the whole experience was the extra time - I had to wait for five or ten minutes for the right TSA agent to come inspect and test the case, and then again a minute or two for the results of the little pad. I was plenty early and the extra time didn’t hurt me. So my advice is, allow yourself an extra 10 minutes in security, just to make sure.

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

my box has been bomb tested several times 🙂

Not musician freinds say…’and with good reason…’ LOL

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

Have travelled very regularly for many years between Ireland, USA and Canada. Never any real problem with the box (Castagnari Doni) but have had to take it out regularly to show it and was once asked by a TSA agent at Minneapolis to play it!!!

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

As long as you are on a large plane (think 737 or bigger) you should be fine. Where you run into trouble is if you’re on one of the smaller regional jets. Overhead bin space is limited and fills up quickly, and then they will make you gate check anything that won’t fit under the seat in front of you. The trick is to make sure you board as early as possible (which of course everyone else is trying to do as well since nobody wants to gate check their luggage).

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

"Though about 5 years did have an Eastern European TSA guy want to dismantle the box, until a sensible supervisor stepped in"
A very small multi-tool or mini-pliers might mean you could pull your bellows pins and let them have a look inside with minimum delay and no harm done.

If there’s a blade included it must be below the size limit and must not lock.

I recently had a keyring sized Swiss Armry knife measured and passed by Dublin airport security. I just forgot it was there. A previous one went in the bin! I think the rules have changed.

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

I’m travelling West to East coast soon; USA. A month ago, I spent the extra to get "screened" so I could go through the TSA Precheck line, which is just about empty all the time. Funny that it’s all over the news now to do that. Horrid waiting lines to check in the usual way. But I also got priority boarding on Delta and the one AA flight. It’s all about room as mentioned for overhead stuff.

With a fiddle… they can stand it up in some closet if they need to, but it goes with me or I don’t board. I spent a some time looking this stuff up and talking with different agents on the phone, and this seems to be the best anyone travelling can do. Unless your brother is the pilot or something. 🙂

But getting priority boarding seemed to me to be a good step to make this happen. I will write a followup later!

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

Never a problem carrying a fiddle on United flights.
You might not be able to put it exactly right above your seat though.
One time there were four of us with fiddles sitting close together -
me and an unrelated family. We made a fiddle sandwich in the overhead.

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

US Airlines lost my zouk and my buddy’s guitar at Baltimore, didn’t get them back til 2 weeks later
in Albuquerque, N. Mexico, so I’d be very wary about any instrument ever going in the hold! Anything the size of a Saltarelle should fit ok in the overhead baggage space -
Davids right about a padded gig bag, my Cairdin fitted fine on a Ryanair flight to Shannon

Re: USA Travel with instrument advice

A follow-up to my previous comment: it was amusing (to me anyway) that at DFW they were worried and had no idea what my pipes were, in Ireland (Shannon airport) they of course knew exactly what they were and elicited no query, and in Boston Logan airport on the way back, the x-Ray technician knew what they were and was excited! Had a short conversation about uilleann pipes, to the moderate chagrin of people behind me in line.