PDA

View Full Version : Flying with a ukulelelelele



oceanjaws
08-12-2011, 09:43 AM
Hello once again good folk of the Ukulele Underground.
My wife has a concert uke (it's mine, really, but we don't mention that) with a lightweight, polystyrene shell type case.. you know, covered in cloth.
She is flying a lot over the next week with Easyjet, Lufthansa, Air Berlin and Air Greenland.

I'd like to tell her that they will allow her to bring her uke with her on board but don't know if she can. The case is 690mm long and 290mm wide. Is there an international law that says you can bring your uke on cause it's so excellent and cool?

WhenDogsSing
08-12-2011, 09:55 AM
There should not be any problems with a concert. I have flown with a tenor and did not have any problems even though it was larger than the maximum size that was supposedly allowed.

kenikas
08-12-2011, 10:05 AM
I don't know about European airlines but in the US most airlines I've flown on make an exception in carry on rules for medical devices and musical instruments. But it may be worth a phone call to the particular airline and ask.

wconley
08-12-2011, 10:12 AM
I've travelled around the US with tenors in gig bags with no problems.

itsme
08-12-2011, 10:29 AM
Shouldn't be a problem. Most likely it will count against the carry-on limit, which used to be two items for most U.S. airlines (I haven't flown in years so don't know about the current state of affairs).

She should try to make sure it goes on the top of other items in the overhead bin so there's no weighty items on it.

uke4ia
08-12-2011, 12:22 PM
On most American airlines, you can bring a musical instrument that will fit under your seat or overhead, but it will count as your carry-on. When we went to Hawaii, my teenager and I shared a carry-on bag so I could bring a ukulele. You need to check the web sites for the airlines to see their policies.

It's also good to detune the uke (put slack in the strings) before the flight. I once had the bridge on a Martin soprano pull off during a flight.

SailingUke
08-12-2011, 12:54 PM
Be prepared just in case the gate agent won't let you board with it. I only fly with a hard shell case.
They don't always stick to the policy. I have not had an issue flying with a tenor, but have friends who have been gate checked.
Make sure you support the headstock in the case, it is easily snapped if the case is dropped.
Most manufacturers suggest not taking the tension of the strings.

Lori
08-12-2011, 01:06 PM
Sometimes it depends on the storage on the particular plane you are traveling. Some smaller planes have foot storage that is not divided, so if you are traveling as two, a uke might be stored across 2 passenger foot storage areas. Other times, the overhead and foot storage areas are too small, and it would be hard to find a good place unless there was a special closet somewhere. I was on a short island to island Hawaiian flight, and a passenger was holding a uke in front of him the whole trip. Probably OK for a short flight, but probably against the rules. See if you can find the storage specifications of the planes you will be taking.
–Lori

chindog
08-12-2011, 01:06 PM
If you'd like to tell her she can fly with it, then by all means go ahead and tell her!

(No idea what will happen at the gate, but you can tell her anything you want).

oceanjaws
08-12-2011, 01:26 PM
She is taking it in a backpack and leaving the case behind. We reckon it will fit in the hand luggage 'test compartment' and she can put some other bits and bobs in with it. I spoke to AirBerlin and they were very robotic about their restrictions, so I think if she brings the case and reasons "But it's so incredibly light and cute" they'll still charge her for another bag. Where's the soul? I ask you.

itsme
08-12-2011, 02:04 PM
Sometimes it depends on the storage on the particular plane you are traveling.
You just made me think of another point about storage...

Once the overhead bins are full, they're full, and you can be forced to gate check anything that won't fit under the seat in front of you even if it meets the criteria of allowable carry-on.

I used to do a lot of day/overnight trips to San Fran. These "commuter" flights were always packed, mostly with business travelers all trying to bring their allowed two pieces of carry-on into the cabin. As the plane filled up, so did the overheads, and the last to board would grumble and gripe about the fact that they had to surrender their carry-ons.

So, try to pick your seat so you can be one of the earlier boarders. Most airports use jetways and board from the back to the front, so a seat toward the rear of the plane could be advantageous. Some smaller airports like Burbank don't use jetways, so they roll stairs up to both ends and board from the center outwards.

On the other hand, I flew to Orlando once, which is considered more of a "vacation destination". This type of crowd stays multiple days and usually checks their luggage. The overheads were practically empty.

downtoearthed
08-12-2011, 05:27 PM
Has anybody tried to bring a humidifier in their case? I am curious if an oasis or DIY humidifier would make it through security. Any one have experience with this?

lancemanion
08-12-2011, 10:39 PM
As an Airline Pilot I couldn't resist adding my 2 cents. I bring my Kala travel uke with me EVERYWHERE. I often jumpseat on airlines other then my own so I have lots of experience in this area. Here is my advice:
1 - NEVER, EVER check or gate check your ukulele - NEVER
2- TSA - The rules state that you can carry on one instrument in addition to your carry on and personal item. They don't always know the rules, they are poorly trained and are performing an unskilled task for a meanial amount. Therefor you can surmise the level of employee they recruite. Arguing does no good, simply ask to speak to their supervisor and tell them to refer to TSA.gov website section pertaining to: Transporting Musical Instruments, then politly explain the rules.
3 - Kindness and niceness go along way, however the gate agent (the person who collects the tickets) is your biggest obstacle. If the gate agent attempts to make you gate check your uke tell her, "I carry it on all the time, if it doesn't fit I would be happy to gate check it", however don't forget rule one.
4 - Now that you have gotten past the gate agent there are two more obsticles. First, if you are carrying something bigger then a soprano there may be a lack of overhead bin space. The only way you have to combat this is to be ready to que up as soon as the gate agent calls ready to board. Boarding is usually done by seating sections, one first etc. (unless your flying on southwest) be the first in your section to board to ensure overhead bin space.
5 - If there is no overhead bin space this brings us the next obstacle, the flight attendant. If there is no more overhead space there are several options. There are always coat closets, even on the smallest planes. On some of the smaller planes the coat closet is reserved for the crew. Again kindness goes along way. The crew wants to get the plane out on time and not get blamed for a delay. Ask nicely if you can place it in the coat closet, if they tell you the closet is full or there is no closet ask if you can place it in the crew's closet. If they still refuse, tell them on the last flight the Captain placed the uke in his closet and ask if they will ask this captain if he will do the same. As a Captain I always accomodate instruments, even full size guitars. If you still don't have any luck, look for open seats on the plane. An instruments may be place in an empty seat as long as: 1)The case has some kind of handle to secure the instrument to the seat with the seat belt 2) The instrument is not placed in an exit row 3) The instrument is not so tall as to block any signs (no smoking, fasten seat belt etc.)
If after using all this information you still are being asked to check or gate check you uke, ask your self this question, is the health of my uke more important then the time it would take to wait for the next flight. If you value your uke ask to be put on the next flight, you will probably have a different gate agent and a different flight attendant. I hope this helps all you traveling musitions. If you have any more question feel free to send me a private message.

mr moonlight
08-13-2011, 05:57 AM
I fly with a concert size all the time. On most planes it fits the short way with the headstock in first in overhead luggage. I also have one of those fabric covered cases. If there's no room or I want a foot rest, I put it under the seat. My Tenor has to go the long way or under the seat. Still it's never been an issue. Just make sure you get on the plane earlier than later. Book window seats if you are traveling alone or you could just have a baby!

Ron98GT
08-13-2011, 07:33 AM
Has anybody tried to bring a humidifier in their case? I am curious if an oasis or DIY humidifier would make it through security. Any one have experience with this?

I've wondered this myself :wallbash:

ksiegel
08-13-2011, 07:47 AM
I've taken my Fluke Tenor in a hard shell case on United - even fits in the overhead bins on Commuter flights. No issues to date. If I have to gate check something, I've got TSA locks on the computer bags, and I'll gate check the briefcase with the multiple computers, but NOT my uke.

..................-Kurt

Skottoman
08-13-2011, 08:37 AM
I flew from the US to Europe with a Flea in a gigbag, along with my backpack. I also flew within Europe on Ryanair, and simply stuffed the entire thing in my backpack, as they only allow one carry on. Might want to check about the number of carryons allowed on airlines like Easyjet, etc...

Cheers,
Skottoman

ckellogg
08-13-2011, 10:07 AM
Book window seats if you are traveling alone or you could just have a baby!

I learn something new every day - lol. I actually bought a 'travel uke' that fits in my carryon suitcase, it's one of those plastic jobbies from Toys R Us. With Martin fluorocarbon strings it sounds OK, and it's great at the beach and pool, too. I have a couple of other sopranos which fit in my carry on, too. So far so good, though I try to never take anything on a trip that I would be super upset about losing. Oh, I have found flights in Europe to be MUCH more restrictive than in the US. For example, on RyanAir (London->Venice), everything counts as a carry on. If you're not wearing your coat at the gate, it's a carry on. And their allowable sizes are smaller.

Let us know how it goes.

ckellogg
08-13-2011, 10:16 AM
As an Airline Pilot I couldn't resist adding my 2 cents. I bring my Kala travel uke with me EVERYWHERE. I often jumpseat on airlines other then my own so I have lots of experience in this area. Here is my advice:
1 - NEVER, EVER check or gate check your ukulele - NEVER
2- TSA - The rules state that you can carry on one instrument in addition to your carry on and personal item. They don't always know the rules, they are poorly trained and are performing an unskilled task for a meanial amount. Therefor you can surmise the level of employee they recruite. Arguing does no good, simply ask to speak to their supervisor and tell them to refer to TSA.gov website section pertaining to: Transporting Musical Instruments, then politly explain the rules.
3 - Kindness and niceness go along way, however the gate agent (the person who collects the tickets) is your biggest obstacle.

Thanks, lancemanion, this is really helpful information. And, thanks for all the times you've shared your closet space with an instrument, it's appreciated.

Here's the link to the TSA info on going through security with instruments. It says they'll let you through security with an instrument plus a personal item and carry on, but it's up to the airline's policy whether they'll let it on the plane. Delta, for example, says the instrument is considered one of your carry ons, and it's allowed only if there's space. Sounds like being nice to the agents is the way to go.
http://www.tsa.gov/travelers/airtravel/assistant/editorial_1235.shtm

itsme
08-13-2011, 11:21 AM
Book window seats if you are traveling alone or you could just have a baby!
I don't get the baby part. :confused:

If you're able bodied (so you can help in the event of an emergency) try to get a seat in the exit row. They're often 2 seats instead of 3 and have more legroom. :)

Another tip if you're traveling with someone is to always book an aisle/window combo. No one wants a center seat, and if you book a center/something else, then someone will take the open window or aisle. If the plane doesn't fill up, you often get an open seat between you. And if it does fill up, I've never met anyone yet who wasn't willing to swap their center seat for an aisle/window.

chindog
08-13-2011, 02:59 PM
As an Airline Pilot I couldn't resist adding my 2 cents. I bring my Kala travel uke with me EVERYWHERE. I often jumpseat on airlines other then my own so I have lots of experience in this area. Here is my advice:
1 - NEVER, EVER check or gate check your ukulele - NEVER
2- TSA - The rules state that you can carry on one instrument in addition to your carry on and personal item. They don't always know the rules, they are poorly trained and are performing an unskilled task for a meanial amount. Therefor you can surmise the level of employee they recruite. Arguing does no good, simply ask to speak to their supervisor and tell them to refer to TSA.gov website section pertaining to: Transporting Musical Instruments, then politly explain the rules.
3 - Kindness and niceness go along way, however the gate agent (the person who collects the tickets) is your biggest obstacle. If the gate agent attempts to make you gate check your uke tell her, "I carry it on all the time, if it doesn't fit I would be happy to gate check it", however don't forget rule one.
4 - Now that you have gotten past the gate agent there are two more obsticles. First, if you are carrying something bigger then a soprano there may be a lack of overhead bin space. The only way you have to combat this is to be ready to que up as soon as the gate agent calls ready to board. Boarding is usually done by seating sections, one first etc. (unless your flying on southwest) be the first in your section to board to ensure overhead bin space.
5 - If there is no overhead bin space this brings us the next obstacle, the flight attendant. If there is no more overhead space there are several options. There are always coat closets, even on the smallest planes. On some of the smaller planes the coat closet is reserved for the crew. Again kindness goes along way. The crew wants to get the plane out on time and not get blamed for a delay. Ask nicely if you can place it in the coat closet, if they tell you the closet is full or there is no closet ask if you can place it in the crew's closet. If they still refuse, tell them on the last flight the Captain placed the uke in his closet and ask if they will ask this captain if he will do the same. As a Captain I always accomodate instruments, even full size guitars. If you still don't have any luck, look for open seats on the plane. An instruments may be place in an empty seat as long as: 1)The case has some kind of handle to secure the instrument to the seat with the seat belt 2) The instrument is not placed in an exit row 3) The instrument is not so tall as to block any signs (no smoking, fasten seat belt etc.)
If after using all this information you still are being asked to check or gate check you uke, ask your self this question, is the health of my uke more important then the time it would take to wait for the next flight. If you value your uke ask to be put on the next flight, you will probably have a different gate agent and a different flight attendant. I hope this helps all you traveling musitions. If you have any more question feel free to send me a private message.

Very good info, Captain! Thanks so much for posting this.

itsme
08-13-2011, 03:17 PM
If after using all this information you still are being asked to check or gate check you uke, ask your self this question, is the health of my uke more important then the time it would take to wait for the next flight. If you value your uke ask to be put on the next flight, you will probably have a different gate agent and a different flight attendant.
Although there is no guarantee that after waiting for the next flight the situation will be any better. And if you opt to voluntarily take another flight, aren't you subject to a change fee?

ksiegel
08-13-2011, 03:20 PM
Oh, I have found flights in Europe to be MUCH more restrictive than in the US. For example, on RyanAir (London->Venice), everything counts as a carry on. If you're not wearing your coat at the gate, it's a carry on.

Isn't RyanAir the one that wanted to charge passengers for using the toilets?

.................-Kurt

mr moonlight
08-13-2011, 07:45 PM
I don't get the baby part. :confused:

If you're able bodied (so you can help in the event of an emergency) try to get a seat in the exit row. They're often 2 seats instead of 3 and have more legroom. :)

Another tip if you're traveling with someone is to always book an aisle/window combo. No one wants a center seat, and if you book a center/something else, then someone will take the open window or aisle. If the plane doesn't fill up, you often get an open seat between you. And if it does fill up, I've never met anyone yet who wasn't willing to swap their center seat for an aisle/window.If you're traveling with a baby you get to pre-board while all the bins are empty. We always book a window & isle seat as well and do the switch if someone needs a seat. We get three seats to ourselves over half the times we fly. Often times with a baby they will block that seat if the plane isn't full. Plus with all the stuff you have to carry, the little uke goes unnoticed.

ckellogg
08-14-2011, 03:12 PM
If you're traveling with a baby you get to pre-board while all the bins are empty.

It depends on the airline, not all pre-board travelers with babies/kids anymore.

itsme
08-14-2011, 03:44 PM
It depends on the airline, not all pre-board travelers with babies/kids anymore.
True! When I flew back from Orlando I had a live animal (kitten) I was carrying on board. I inquired about being able to board early with the kids crowd and they said they didn't do that because most of the plane was already families traveling with kids.

They actually let me board immediately after first class so I could get the kitty settled in his carrier under the seat in front of me before the onslaught of passengers.

He had to have his own ticket, where his name was listed as "Excess Baggage". When they came around for beverage service, I requested some cream for "Mr. Baggage" but they said they didn't have any and asked if he would like some milk instead, which they duly provided. :)

drjond56
08-14-2011, 04:06 PM
3 of us on a mission team just flew internationally to Honduras. 2 concert ukes and 1 tenor. All in the overhead with no problem. Used the standard Kala/Lanikai/Protec style case.

Jon