Aer Lingus and guitars

Aer Lingus and guitars

I’ve read many of the posts regarding flying with instruments, but haven’t seen much on guitars. Has anyone had any problems flying on Aer Lingus with a guitar?

I have a lovely Taylor 415 cutaway and a soft case. I haven’t found any ATA flight cases that will fit this Taylor, but even moreso, the thought of having to check it makes my stomach turn.

On Aer Lingus‘ website, they say that ’medium-sized’ instruments (I’m guessing the guitar qualifies as this?) can be kept on board only if one buys a seat for it. This is not an option because I don’t have an extra $600 and as well, the flight is full.

Should I chance it? Or buy a hard case, fill the spaces with socks, and check it, risking great damage?

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

There is only one answer for this. Pay whatever you have to in order to get a 5-ply Harp-tone or similar hardshell case. If you had time, I’d suggest ordering a Calton. Spend $400 on an insurable case instead of $600 on an extra seat.

Arrive early. Do not check at the ticket counter. Bring to gate. Ask to board early with those who “need a little extra time.” Most dreadnought guitar cases will fit in most overhead racks if the racks are not already full of other carryons. The final decision regarding whether you carry on is up to the flight attendants themselves, NOT the ticket people, and NOT the staff at the gate.

Hold the instrument down by your side, opposite the side with which you hand in your ticket. Avoid eye contact with staff, be polite, unobtrusive, and swift at finding your seat.

If, in the worst case scenario, the hardshell case does not fit in the overhead rack, leave the case in your seat and catch the attention of the nearest flight attendant. Ask “can you put this in your closet?” There is usually space in the coat closet and the attendants, if you’re polite, will usually be sympathetic.

Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you arrive at the gate with a soft-shell case and “chance it.” That gives you no options in the event that they categorically refuse and you’re forced to check the case. But, only check the case if you’ve already done all the above, and it becomes apparent that it will fit nowhere in the cabin. Even if, at that point, you do have to check the instrument, it will be hand-carried by a loader and will go in last (e.g., on top) of the other luggage.

You should also visit Bob Brozman’s website, where he has very detailed instructions (about traveling with $20,000 worth of guitars).
http://www.bobbrozman.com/tip_packfly.html

That said, some airlines (and obviously, certain models of planes) are more receptive than others. Aer Lingus is usually pretty sympatico with musicians.

Most important: plan for the worst, work for the best, and remember that the attendants have the last word.

chris smith

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

aer lingus are generally cool with guitars, my advice if you find them being uncooperative is to insist it goes in the fragile hold. Same place as the buggies and wheelchairs. This way it doesn’t go through the conveyor belt. You bring it up to the plane and you get it back immediately after leaving the plane. But definitely use a hard case.

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Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

On all our travels to Ireland (from the US) we have flown Aer Lingus. On our first flight I didn’t have a flight case, so I didn’t take a guitar. In Shannon airport when we were about to board for the flight back to the US, I saw a fellow in another line with a guitar in a standard case, so I went over to ask him about flying with a guitar. He said that Bill Staines told him that Aer Lingus was very accustomed to handling instruments and that they were very good with them. This fellow said that Staines told him just to loosen the strings and add some extra padding to the headstock, like wrapping t-shirts around it, and trust Aer Lingus. This fellow had checked his guitar thru both ways and it was fine.

Grand. I came home and ordered a heavy-duty (not the standard) Calton case for my guitar. On the next and subsequent trips, I checked the guitar thru in the most usual way and the case wasn’t even scratched until my last trip.

We have found Aer Lingus personnel to be wonderfully courteous and helpful, understanding about instruments.
On our second trip, I couldn’t find my Calton on the carousel at Shannon and I was beginning to worry when an AL fellow came up with the guitar on a dolly, asking for me by name. I guess this means that it was unloaded separately and spared the tossing of the beltways and carousel… But again, I haven’t tried anything other than simply checking the instrument thru. Of course, it was -obviously- a guitar… <G>

I’ve always wanted to do the ‘hand-check’ or ‘gate-check’ thing, where one takes the instrument thru to the gate and it’s loaded by hand, last, on top of the rest of the cargo, but I never have. At Chicago O’Hare, getting an instrument thru the TSA to the gate would be a challenge, but I suppose it could be done.

My guitar is not a custom, irreplaceable instrument, so if it were seriously damaged, I’d just be out a guitar for the trip and I’d go thru the rigamarole to have it replaced. But my zouk is a custom-made instrument, and if it were disabled the process of replacement would be much more complex and anguishing. I haven’t taken it over yet, but I expect to do so, again in a max-tough Calton.

There have been other threads on this, I think, and the American Federation of Musicians agreement with the airlines and TSA resulted in a form that one can carry along, and which gives some right-of-way to serious instruments on airlines. I carry copies with me, but have never used them.

Flying within the US scares me more than flying to Ireland on Aer Lingus.

I hope this helps…

stv

http://cdbaby.com/Culchies

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

I see you are coming in August - you need to get moving if you want a Calton. There can be a long order time in the USA if you can’t find a shop with one in stock.
You might also want to look at www.acoustic-kamp.com/html/airline_travel.pdf - Steve Kaufman does a lot of travelling. One of his comments is that if you want to get it on board you must not ask permission!
I fly with a Calton and my experience with AL is good. I would say you have a good chance of getting it on board but I still wouldn’t chance it with a soft case.
Bring the soft case with you - if you lug the calton around Ireland you’ll go back to the US with a bad back.

Posted by .

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

I recommend Wade Hampton Miller, hojo2x@aol.com as a source for the Calton Cases. He’s in Alaska (still U.S., though). Might be worth dealing with despite that.

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

. . . . and if you’re flying Aer Lingus, the big hand is pointing to the twelve and the little hand is pointing to the nine. . . .

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

just take an Aer guitar

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Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

Ouch! Bren, you should be ashamed of yourself!

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

Oh yeah, the wait for a custom Calton is months. I found one for my Santa Cruz OM PW guitar in stock at Griffin Music in Palo Alto. The Calton website has a dealer list, and you can check to see who might have your size in stock.

I take a Blue Heron soft case along also, and friends have been very kind in storing my Calton while I run around Ireland. One year I mailed the soft case back and another I checked it thru full of laundry.

I’ve not had the courage to walk up to the boarding line with a guitar, but I guess the worst that could happen (aside from “security” tangles) is that they’d take it to the cargo hold, and then it would go pretty much on top of most of it…

stv

http://cdbaby.com/Culchies

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

As a Flight Dispatcher for Aer lingus at A Uk Airport……
My advice is:
1 ) Get a good hardshell case as your instrument deserves it, beacuse you will never know when you may have to part with it for its loading in the hold.
2) In my experience the only time a seat has to be bought for an instrument is when travelling with a cello or harp.
(we usually get the instument in as Mr.Cello)
3) If travelling with a soft case and I am on duty you get VIP treatment..bring it on no problem !….
4) Even if you come to the gate with a hard case and are still worried we will load it in ther hold by hand.. not down the 10metere chute. The bane of every dispatchers life is the trolley bag brigade . I love taking all the trolley bags at the gate so as to leave space for all the musical instruments.

But thats just me.. I cant and do not speak for others who may not have sympathy for the needs of the musician in the air.

Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

My husband and I flew from Boston to Dublin with Aer Lingus at the weekend. He plays guitar and wasn’t even asked about it. He just brought it straight on and put it in the overhead containers.

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Re: Aer Lingus and guitars

both mine (acoustic and bass) are Calton _believe me, he’s the best . . .

and a great character and musician too, hidden away in deepest Surrey