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View Full Version : URGENT, PLEASE HELP: Traveling with my Ukulele



sophiav
05-31-2015, 08:10 AM
Hey, guys!

I am booked to fly on Tuesday, June 2nd. Unfortunately, I only JUST learned that if I take it on the plane, it will have to go in overhead stowing, and therefore needs a hard case, but I don't have one and cannot get one in time!

Please, give me your advice; if I am very careful, and wait to put my uke in the overhead until the last few minutes, do you think it will be ok?? :/ I'm worried to take it, but I don't want to spend a month without it!

UPDATE: I am so dense!! I just realized that my uke will fit perfectly into my hard carry on luggage.. I can wrap it in clothing? Was this just too easy for me to see? Or am I overlooking an issue? AH!

Let me know! Thanks so much

-Sophie

ADDITION: I still have the small, triangular, cardboard box that it arrived in. Do you guys think that if I taped it up well and maybe put some padding in there, that it would be okay?

igorthebarbarian
05-31-2015, 08:36 AM
Check your local Craigslist for a case?

deschutestrout
05-31-2015, 08:42 AM
Why does it need a hardshell case? A good gig bag should protect it just fine if you're careful.

itsme
05-31-2015, 08:50 AM
Why does it need a hardshell case? A good gig bag should protect it just fine if you're careful.
Not if someone puts a heavy carry-on on top of a flimsy gig bag.

OP, it should be okay if you wait to put it on top of everything else in the compartment.

deschutestrout
05-31-2015, 08:58 AM
Not if someone puts a heavy carry-on on top of a flimsy gig bag.

OP, it should be okay if you wait to put it on top of everything else in the compartment.

"Good" and "Careful" were the power words in my post. :-)

Futurethink
05-31-2015, 09:04 AM
Sometimes (if the plane you're on has a closet up front, and if there is room) the flight attendant will agree to keep your instrument in that closet. Some folks use these for hanging suit bags, bridal gowns, etc.. That would be your best option.

If I read the airline rules correctly, they say you can store your instrument in the overhead bin if there is room. If the overhead bins are full, they might insist that it go in the luggage compartment.

More and more people are carrying on luggage instead of checking bags. Overhead bin space is becoming harder to find. Your fellow passengers might be respectful of your ukulele, and might not. I've witnessed people trying to *forcefully* cram backpacks and other containers into the overhead bin.

I would not risk flying with a stringed instrument without at least a hard case. Professional musicians purchase a metal case for travel.

hoosierhiver
05-31-2015, 09:05 AM
bubble wrap

sophiav
05-31-2015, 09:21 AM
Check your local Craigslist for a case?

I tried! :/ no luck. thanks for the suggestion!

sophiav
05-31-2015, 09:23 AM
That little closet sounds good, but you're right; there's no promise that I can use it. I really don't want to risk it.. but I really really want it with me! I still have the small ukulele shaped cardboard box that it arrived in. Do you think it would be okay in that?

sophiav
05-31-2015, 09:23 AM
Good idea! I'll keep that in mind

sophiav
05-31-2015, 09:24 AM
I'm hoping that's the case, but I can't guarantee that some careless oaf won't shove their bag around during the flight, either..

sophiav
05-31-2015, 09:25 AM
I'll have to try to be as careful as I can! Thank for your input

actadh
05-31-2015, 09:27 AM
Would a storage container with a handle be a carry on, like a tool box style?

Freeda
05-31-2015, 09:27 AM
You can't put anything under the seat in front of you? That's where I always put mine. That way nothing shifts onto it.

stevejfc
05-31-2015, 09:30 AM
The original cardboard box stuffed with some padding in the overhead should be ok.

Jim Hanks
05-31-2015, 09:31 AM
May I ask how expensive or replaceable the uke is if something does happen?

Captain Simian
05-31-2015, 09:32 AM
What airline are you flying and what size uke? I usually just travel with a soprano in a gig bag and explain to the flight attendants what I have with me. They've either taken it to their small closet or let it be the last items stored in the overhead bin. I've also traveled with instruments as large as a short scale bass and haven't had any issues since I make sure to explain what I have with me.

tbeltrans
05-31-2015, 09:38 AM
bubble wrap

This makes the most sense to me in a pinch such as you describe. You can buy the stuff anywhere and it is inexpensive so you are not sinking a lot of money into something you will throw away when you do around to buying a hard shell case. Bubble wrap's sole purpose in life is protecting stuff during shipping.

Tony

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:00 AM
I was thinking of something like that! I actually JUST realized that my uke will fit into my actual carry on luggage!! I can wrap it in clothes.. Is that too easy? Am I overlooking something?

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:00 AM
I can, but then I won't have anywhere to put my personal item (backpack). :/

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:01 AM
It's not that expensive, but it's my first uke and it has sentimental value. I actually JUST realized that my uke will fit into my actual carry on luggage!! I can wrap it in clothes.. Is that too easy? Am I overlooking something?

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:02 AM
Flying American Airlines with a concert uke. That's good to hear. I actually JUST realized that my uke will fit into my actual carry on luggage!! I can wrap it in clothes.. Is that too easy? Am I overlooking something?

Freeda
05-31-2015, 10:23 AM
Personally I'd put the backpack up top and the uke under the seat.

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the advice! I actually JUST realized that my uke will fit into my actual carry on luggage!! I can wrap it in clothes.. Is that too easy? Am I overlooking something?

sophiav
05-31-2015, 10:28 AM
I would, but they frown upon that because it's so small, and there are people who need that space for their luggage.

Freeda
05-31-2015, 10:30 AM
Wrapping it in clothes doesn't seem like a good idea to me because it's not providing anything as a crush zone. If you put it in the cardboard, bubble wrap, etc, that is providing a crush zone for when it inevitably gets jostled.

Did you ever do that experiment in school where you build an apparatus to protect an egg, then throw the egg off the roof of the school and see which apparatus is effective? The ones where the egg was just wrapped in stuff didn't end well.

barefootgypsy
05-31-2015, 10:36 AM
I was thinking of something like that! I actually JUST realized that my uke will fit into my actual carry on luggage!! I can wrap it in clothes.. Is that too easy? Am I overlooking something? That should be absolutely fine. I have done that several times with a soprano uke in a gig bag. Without a gig bag I'd go for bubble-wrap. Have you checked the length of the uke against the permitted size of baggage on your flight? It does vary. If you think the uke is too long, wrap it well in bubble-wrap just in case......

itsme
05-31-2015, 12:16 PM
Personally I'd put the backpack up top and the uke under the seat.


I would, but they frown upon that because it's so small, and there are people who need that space for their luggage.
Were you replying to Freeda? Because the space under the seat in front of you is yours! You can stow anything you want there, or leave it vacant for a little more foot room.

Or were you talking about the captain's closet?

wayfarer75
05-31-2015, 12:42 PM
Put the uke in its box and then into the carry-on. Pad that with clothes or bubble wrap.

katysax
05-31-2015, 01:19 PM
I have travelled many times carrying a uke in a gigbag. It's lighter and easier to deal with than a hard case.

aclownfish
05-31-2015, 01:52 PM
I travel several times a month on planes and I bring my uke on every trip. I have never had a problem finding space for it. It will not fit under the seat, because nothing can stick out. If they let you put it in the cabinet up front, you are all set. I personally would try and carry it on before packing it in your luggage. If you bring it in a gig bag and stow it overhead, just watch it when people put other things in the bin. Most people look out when they see an instrument and understand when you remind them nicely. Get yourself a Mono gig bag for the next trip, it's made this quandary irrelevant to me when I travel. Also, start thinking of a fun response when everyone asks you how long you've been playing the violin.

sukie
05-31-2015, 04:28 PM
You can't put anything under the seat in front of you? That's where I always put mine. That way nothing shifts onto it.
I was just going to post putting it under the seat. I am a wreck when I fly with my ukulele. I will pay to board early if I can. That way I know there will be space. Waiting until the end does not guarantee there will be overhead space. Quite likely it will be the opposite. I try to put my ukulele in an overhead bin across the aisle and then watch it like a hawk when people put stuff in there. So far so good. But I've also put in under the seat. The flight attendants can't see it down there if I sit by the window. So I don't worry they'll make me move it.

Tigershark
05-31-2015, 07:27 PM
In days of old, my ancestors in need of physical goods, would get in a car and drive to a music store to purchase a ukulele case.

igorthebarbarian
05-31-2015, 07:41 PM
What I did recently carrying home a Ukadelic for my niece - which is quite "sturdy" in terms of its build - was to take it in its soft gig bag, and put it under my seat until about the time when everyone is pretty much on the plane and we're just waiting for the stragglers to rush on. Basically everyone's locked in-place and ready to go. Then I stood up in the aisle (it helped having an aisle seat), then put the uke on top of my other carry-on duffel bag. At this point all of the other items in the overhead bin had been pretty much settled and were in-place, so then it was just a matter of picking the "best spot" - alternately you can always go across or up a bin.
I made sure I avoided some of the other people's hard-shell luggage (which seems so thick and heavy that it really should be checked underneath, but that's another tangent). It actually survived pretty well in that soft gig bag. I was initially worried but it turned out ok and makes me think I definitely will take a cheaper uke on my next flying vacation.

kissing
06-01-2015, 02:41 AM
Hmm, I think the overhead stowaway is the best place to store your ukulele in anyway.

Stow it securely and its not even a problem. Generally people are careful about getting stuff out during the flight if need be... and your seat is always close by so you can keep an eye on things.

I have travelled with a Concert uke in a thin gigbag with no issues

loco85
06-01-2015, 06:54 AM
I traveled with a string instrument (mini puertorican cuatro copy) about the size of a Soprano. I cover the card box completely with a roll of packing tape and made handles. when I got in the plane I put it in the overhead compartment between my bag and the end of the compartment, with the head sock facing the isle and on the side. That way it was protected by my bag and the side of the compartment, keep a eye on just for safety but nothing happened.

Tootler
06-01-2015, 01:03 PM
I took a soprano in a well padded gig bag and put it under the seat in front. No problems at all. Last year I came back with a extra one, having won one at the festival I'd been to. The one I'd taken with me (a soprano flea) went in my suitcase with clorhes wrapped round it and the one I won went into the gig bag. The case went in the overhead locker and the gig bag under the seat. Both got home safely.