View Full Version : Flying with mandolin

Feb-10-2004, 6:05pm
Hi all,

I recently flew from Australia to Boston via LA.
I have a gilchrist mando in one of those aluminium flight cases. I checked it in at Sydney and it arrived in LA no problems. I have flown qantas domestically before, always checked the mandolin in with no problems. (They have never let me take it on board and I have never worried - that's what flight cases are for - right???).
Then I checked it in American Airlines at LA, told them it was fragile etc... and when I arrived in Boston, one of the locks had been broken open. Now, I always lock the case (so it doesn't fall open and so noone can play it), and tape down the latches (so they don't get damaged). The case had a pink 'inspected' sticker on it. Is this normal that they would break a lock to try to open a case??? And why then would they not break both to actually check the thing??? Is this an American Airlines thing (I have never been to the US before)?

What do people normally do? Lock the case? I am really worried about the return trip next week as the case is only held shut by one latch. If I don't lock it, the case could easily fall open if the latch is bumped.

Thanks in advance for any advice people might have...


Feb-10-2004, 7:28pm
Well the TSA now informs that locking checked baggage is a no-no. They will (and did) break into suitcases, etc. For the case that the case is metal and cannot be x-rayed, I suspect that is all they need to question what is inside.

I carry on or bring my piece of crap sans case and cozy in my duffle bag. My shirts, socks, etc provide as much cushion as the crappy mandolin needs - ha.

John Flynn
Feb-10-2004, 9:33pm
I think one of the TSA guys saw "Gilchrist" on the x-ray and just wanted to try a few chops on it! http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif

Seriously, there is a new TSA certified lock you can buy that you set your own combination for, but TSA has a key that will open it. Brookstone has them at $20 for a set of two locks, but I think other places have them now also.

Luthier Vandross
Feb-10-2004, 11:34pm
In the US, you can carry anything on that fits in the overhead, or the closet.

Airlines got tired of paying for attorneys, and $20,000 insurance claims, when failing to get releases signed.


Feb-11-2004, 12:47am
the problem is that my case is just a little too big to fit in the overheads... and i can't use other locks...

I rang AA just a moment ago and they said that I could take the case through that part of security myself and then lock it if I wished. Hopefully that information is correct.


Martin Jonas
Feb-11-2004, 5:32am
I have taken my mandolin as hand luggage several times (always in Europe, though) and never had a problem. We are lucky in that our instruments are small enough to be roughly briefcase-sized and therefore don't raise too many eyebrows. As hand luggage, I am perfectly happy to just use a normal plywood hard case, which makes it much less bulky than a fibreglass flight case, which in turn makes it more likely to be allowed on as hand luggage. Nobody has yet suggested to me that a mandolin string is a potential weapon, although I am worried they might.


Feb-11-2004, 9:25am
I have never had a problem flying with any of my instruments. Frontier did give me problems when I took my guitar as a carry on and thus put me in the "special line". they asked if I was going to check it in and I asked them if they were going to replace it if it was damaged. They said no and I said no, I'll carry it on. Now mind you this was a guitar (just slightly larger than a mando http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif ). I remember a post here where you are allowed to carry on instruments and it is not considered a carry on item. Hopefully a board member knows the link where you can print out a copy of the letter from the head of TSA.

As far as my mando, the only problem I have had with TSA is they think it's a violin.

With securtiy, you're right. I checked in GPS equipment and asked them to duct tape the case after inspection and they were more than happy to oblige (the inspector was a former archeologist so he understood the reasoning behind taping the cases).

Christine W
Feb-11-2004, 10:05am
I have a pdf of the letter. I tried attaching it to this post , but it wouldn't work. If anyone wants a copy email me cwalshci@yahoo.com and I'll send the PDF