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Thread: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

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    Registered User Yeet's Avatar
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    Default Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Hi! I'm going out of the country for a while next week. I wanted to bring my mandolin on the plan. I have an Eastman I love that I'd want to keep in its bulky hard case but I also have a Rogue that I would feel fine with just carrying in a gig bag that isn't so bulky and I wouldn't mind getting beat up a bit if things don't go so well.

    In your experience has it been alright to carry a mandolin in a gig bag as a personal item/carry-on?

    I feel like wherever I look there are different answers to this.

    Thanks!
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeet View Post
    Hi! I'm going out of the country for a while next week. I wanted to bring my mandolin on the plan. I have an Eastman I love that I'd want to keep in its bulky hard case but I also have a Rogue that I would feel fine with just carrying in a gig bag that isn't so bulky and I wouldn't mind getting beat up a bit if things don't go so well.

    In your experience has it been alright to carry a mandolin in a gig bag as a personal item/carry-on?

    I feel like wherever I look there are different answers to this.

    Thanks!
    I’ve carried an 00-sized guitar in a Hiscox case on probably two dozen flights over the past 5 years, including international flights, and I’ve been able to carry it on in all but two flights. But, I would never travel with an instrument I cared about in just a gig bag, in the unlikely event it has to go into the baggage compartment (even less likely with a mandolin that a guitar).

  3. #3

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Travelled the world for years (a little more settled now, but still two or three international flights per year) – my never-failed-yet technique is to not carry a "rollerboard" (one of those wheeled telescoping-handled little suitcases that are permitted in the cabin) – just (1) a normal-sized computer backpack or shoulder bag, and (2) a mandolin.

    Tip: don't carry strings or a string-cutter in the mandolin case/cover/gigbag pockets – some airlines consider them to have weapon capabilities.

  4. #4
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Carry it on, but go light on other carry ons. I've taken a mandolin and a fiddle (slightly longer) on as carry ons several times on international flights with no problems
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
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    Registered User tree's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Travelled the world for years (a little more settled now, but still two or three international flights per year) – my never-failed-yet technique is to not carry a "rollerboard" (one of those wheeled telescoping-handled little suitcases that are permitted in the cabin) – just (1) a normal-sized computer backpack or shoulder bag, and (2) a mandolin.

    Tip: don't carry strings or a string-cutter in the mandolin case/cover/gigbag pockets – some airlines consider them to have weapon capabilities.
    +1
    Clark Beavans

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I always travel with a mandolin as a carry-on, and if necessary check whatever else I'm travelling with. I virtually never fly without a mandolin.
    I have never once had any questions asked about it.

    This includes flights to the States, Costa Rica, New Zealand and many places within Europe and the UK.

    One of the benefits of playing the mandolin is the ease of taking it travelling with you.
    David A. Gordon

  7. #7

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Just to add to the thread -I’ve done exactly this (Flatiron flattop in a gig bag) many times on international flights with no issues. The rogue is small like the flatiron so you can likely stick it under the seat if all else fails. But I’ve always been able to tuck it into the overhead bin somewhere after everyone else loads up. I have a particularly small gig bag that’s meant for a uke to make it even easier. Might like at somethng like that too. My only concern is not letting anyone set somethng on top of it in the bins. There are also closets to hang coats in on those flights. I’ve never asked but I’m pretty sure the attendants would hang a gig bag in one of those too.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I’m about to fly with a carry-on Washburn Rover guitar in a big bag for the first time. It’s longer than the typical carry-on rules would allow but the airline specifically allows small instruments in the overhead bin. We shall see.....
    Eastman MD315

  9. #9

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Yeet View Post
    I have an Eastman I love that I'd want to keep in its bulky hard case but I also have a Rogue that I would feel fine with just carrying in a gig bag
    I don’t want to fly with my Eastman either. What Rogue do y’all recommend for a knock around traveling mandolin?
    Eastman MD315

  10. #10
    Registered User Jon Hall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    When I step on the plane, I ask the attendant if they can store my mandolin in their crew locker. More often than not , they've done that for me; otherwise I've stored it in the overhead. I've only traveled with a hard case and not a bag. The rules are that an item has to fit fully under a seat. My cases are too long to fit under a seat so I've never tried that.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I flew with a washburn M1SDLB in a gig bag earlier this year. It was the maximum length of a carry on and they gave me a little hassle about the size but did let me fly with it.

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    Registered User Joe Dodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I've carried on a mandolin in a gig bag more times than I can count, but I think I'm done with that program. They won't fit under the seat, and it's too stressful to watch the other passengers wondering which of them is about to toss their 30-pound carry-on top of my mando. I put an inexpensive travel case on my Christmas list. I could use the TKL it came with of course, but it's a pain not to be able to sling it over the shoulder with a strap. In the other direction, I don't think I need anything as robust or expensive as a Calton just to carry on.

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    Registered User Joe Dodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dagger Gordon View Post
    I always travel with a mandolin as a carry-on, and if necessary check whatever else I'm travelling with. I virtually never fly without a mandolin.
    I have never once had any questions asked about it.

    This includes flights to the States, Costa Rica, New Zealand and many places within Europe and the UK.

    One of the benefits of playing the mandolin is the ease of taking it travelling with you.
    Yup. Same. Mine's been to Iceland, Scotland, Costa Rica, the Cayman Islands, and all over the US, among other places I've probably forgotten about.

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    This is helpful to hear about for me, I've always feared flying with nice instruments...

    Which raises the related question: What is the nicest mandolin that you'd risk flying with?

    For me, I'd love to have my F-9 with me, but my ($199) MK F-style is intentionally setup as a backup for my F-9, and it actually sounds pretty good... So I'd probably take the MK.

    (The MK does have Indian rosewood on it so it's nice that the CITES dalbergia rules have been relaxed for finished musical instruments.)

    On a cruise or a train or any other transportation mode that has relaxed space rules, I'd take my F-9. Actually on bluegrass cruises I routinely take my F-9, my RB-800 and my Alcoa double bass, and my wife her D-41 (and we bring a wagon), but on a regular cruise I'd probably just bring my F-9 and she her D-41.
    -- Don

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    Registered User sblock's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    In my opinion, if you care at all about your mandolin, regardless about whether it's a high end instrument or a junker, you'll carry it aboard in proper hardshell case, and not inside a gig bag. The chances are pretty good that it will wind up being stowed in an overhead compartment, as opposed to the closet up in first class. Stowing it under your seat is out of the question (unless no flight attendant happens to notice), since the mandolin is too long to fit legally in that space. Once your precious mandolin is lying flat (stored lengthwise, as it must be) inside an overhead bin, and once you are already belted down into a nearby seat, there is NOTHING whatsoever to stop some clueless or inconsiderate other passenger from trying to jam in their own stuff directly on top of your mandolin, which will not be taking up the full height of the bin. I speak from long experience on this matter. Sooner or later, this WILL happen! And it will happen fast, often before you can say anything, or react physically to protect your fragile instrument. So, when it does -- and it will! -- you don't want your instrument crushed underneath by their actions. A gig bag is simply not good enough to protect your mandolin in such a circumstance. Only a hard case can protect against a steady crushing force imposed by someone else's luggage being jammed in on top.

    So get a hard case, I say. I travel by air with a mandolin all the time. I put my better mandolins (depending on which one) in a Calton or Hoffee case. Or sometimes, I have traveled with a less expensive instrument in an Eastman or Saga/Golden gate fiberglass case. Also, an inexpensive, lightweight, hard foam Travelite or Gator case can work perfectly well, too, in this capacity! But not a gig bag! I have never had a problem in half a million air miles.

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I carried a strumstick on the plane last time I flew. It's about as long as a mandolin, but not as wide. I shoved it under the seat in front of me along with my backpack. It's my backpacking instrument so it takes a beating.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Well .… I decided years ago to spend money on Calton cases and travel with my favored instruments. I bought used cases one or two from this site from classifieds. I have successfully checked guitars in a Calton cases into baggage. I have carried on both a mandolin case and fiddle case as well as a combo mandolin fiddle case. The thing is if the gate keeper decides that there is no room in the overheads for your instruments they will be kicked into baggage. No gig bag , soft case or few hard cases will protect an instrument form either the baggage handlers of baggage handling equipment. If there is an option to pay an early boarding fee , pay it. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I fly a couple of times a year with a mandolin. Usually domestic but also Mexico, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and twice to China.
    (knock on wood) Never a problem. As stated above, i usually just have a backpack and a mando to carry on - no roller bags, etc.

    Since someone asked, I used to travel with an old Gibson A snakehead mandolin. It was the most "worn" and traveled of my mandolins. The last 12+ years I've been traveling with a Mix A5 carbon fiber mandolin. Doesn't even go out of tune...

    Kirk

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Quote Originally Posted by UsuallyPickin View Post
    . If there is an option to pay an early boarding fee , pay it. R/
    This-- get in the A group or earliest boarding you can. The newer regs say that they need to accept the instrument as long as there's space, but you really have very little power to try to make people understand them, and there's a lot of lee-way in how people interpret the "as long as there's space" line. I'd suggest getting on the plane and getting it in an overhead as quickly as you can. It's worth $25-30 bucks for that peace of mind.

    I'd also highly recommend that you don't ask anyone and just act like you've done this 120 times before and that you know what you're doing. The gate agent's job is to load the plane as quickly as possible, and if you give him or her the opportunity to get a problem taken care of at the gate rather than at your seat, they might just try to force you to check it.

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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    My longer across the pond trips were bicycle tours, I brought a Pocket Mandolin* in a well padded gig bag
    that was easy to stow in the OHC , of 747-400s, & the connecting from LHR to Dublin [20 years ago]

    * it also fit well on the rear rack with tent & sleeping bag..
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    Registered User Jonathan K's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    In case anyone is interested, the controlling government regulation is FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 Section 403. Federal Register summary of the main point for this discussion:

    Transport of Small Instruments as Carry-On Baggage
    This rule requires that carriers must allow a passenger to carry into the cabin and stow a small musical instrument, such a violin or a guitar, in a suitable baggage compartment, such as the overhead bin or under the seats in accordance with FAA safety regulations.


    https://www.transportation.gov/airco...al-instruments

    Folks frequently wonder if a US carrier will let them carry on their mandolin. Unless the cabin is out of space, they will. So, the recommendation to purchase early boarding is a good one (that's what I do - and I've never been told I can't carry on my mandolin.... or bass guitar....)

    But never in a gig bag.

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    Registered User mbruno's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    I fly about 1 to 2 times a month for work. I always have a backpack or roller board for my clothes / etc and a mandolin with me as carry on's. I've never had an issue with carrying a mandolin on any flight - domestic or international - regardless of the carrier. I usually put it under my seat which may be part of the reason I've never had a problem - but even when I've had to put it in the overhead, it hasn't been an issue for me. Hard case is the best of course.

    Note - if you have a multi-tool string changer make sure that it does NOT have any type of blade on it (personally I use the Gizmo which has all the tools I need but no blade). I would also recommend taking it out of the case prior to security, pull all the tools out so they are visible, and put it in a bin where it's easily seen (I sometimes even tell the agent by the xray about it - specifically that there's no blade on it - for good measure). If you leave the tool in your case, even if it does not have a blade on it, they'll put that bomb detecting alcohol rub on your mandolin. I'm not sure what's on those, but I'm not a fan of having that on my finish personally.

    I agree on the early check in also.
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Note - if you have a multi-tool string changer make sure that it does NOT have any type of blade on it (personally I use the Gizmo which has all the tools I need but no blade).
    Unless I'm going to be gone for more than 2 years I won't need to change my strings.

    But that's a different thread...

    Kirk

  29. #24
    Registered User Elliot Luber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Document that you bought it in the US to avoid any customs claims.
    Eastman 605, Strad-o-lin, and Kentucky 300e mandolins.

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    Default Re: Going out of the country...personal item/carry-on?

    Sblock: Yep, yep, yep! I’ve flown several times with a disposable soprano uke in a backpack without issue, so I got brave and took my beater mandolin at the time (Eastman 315) on a short flight to Boston to visit my daughter. I used an old Wings gig bag with backpack straps, boarded early without issue, and put it overhead. There was a ton of overhead space this flight. Despite all the open space one of the last passengers on decided they had to put their roller right above their seat, on top of the mandolin. I went a little Dikembe Mutombo on the lady, who was too short to see the instrument. Crisis averted, but it spent the rest of the flight under seat. Fortunately I had a window and just sort of covered it up with my legs and coat til we were in the air. Of course, I then spent the flight worried I was going to stomp on it, lol.

    I invested shortly thereafter in a Reunion Blues bag. Almost as protective as a Travelite, but smaller profile. But I’m debating getting a true flight case. I’m fine going a weekend without an instrument, but miss them on longer trips.
    Chuck

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