I am sure that they have had flutes come through. If you have a problem, ask for a supervisor. Be polite and explain why you have the flute. Explain why you can't have it in checked baggage. get there early. Contact your airline before you go.
Re: airplane travel with my flute 22:59 on Tuesday, January 06, 2009
Account Closed (3248 points)
I fly with my flute all the time and have never had any problem except one time and the Little Rock airport. They are not all that bright there though and probably don't even know what a flute is. lol! It was when I had an extra headjoint in a case. I told them what it was before. Just make sure to tell them that you have you have a flute in the case so that they know what it is when it goes through scanning. Sometimes I even open it up and show them BEFORE it goes through scanning. Once it is through scanning, they won't let you touch it if they want to examine it. If they do want to examine it, make sure to explain how to open the case up and that it is right side up. Explain to them that it is very expensive. I have only even had them want to open it up and look at it one time like I said and that was in LR. So, you should be just fine. Good luck!
Maybe they'll ask you to play your flute to make sure it's a real instrument -- just as they do with laptop computers to make sure they are in working order and not disguised bombs. So prepare a light and cheerful piece to make them smile!
Normally there should be no problems, particularly if you travel in Europe or USA. It could be different in other countries, I cannot tell.
What the security screening looks for is any object that could be used as a weapon or be used to cause harm or menace other people. As flutes have no edges or points they are normally considered to be safe.
But this is something relative and subject to the perception of the agent. A broken bottle, for example, could be a very dangerous offensive object, well known to appear frequently in street fights. No matter that, they are allowed in flights.
But other simple and common objects that I would never imagine could be considered to be dangerous are banned, nevertheless. I recently had to throw away a simple set of drills that I tried to carry in my hand luggage. Screw drives, even those small types used to adjust flutes or glasses, could be banned too.
For this reason, the cleaning rod, if made of metal, even if it has no points, (as is also the case with normal drills) may be considered by some nervous agent to be "dangerous" and it would be better to carry it in your normal luggage, if you can. But I must say that in spite of my bad experience with the drills, I never do this... and I travel by plane frequently with my second flute.
There is an agreement with the airlines, the TSA, and several Musician Unions - I will see if I can find it. It mostly applies to the larger instruments so you can carry them on even though they are bigger than the carry on limits.
Regardless. You should be able to travel with your flute with no problems. As stated above anything in your flute case that is long and slender (the rod) take it out and put it in your check through bagage. Same with small screw drivers, razor blades, safety pins, etc.
I travel with my French Horn and send it through the Xray as a carry on. They have asked questions but have never touched it. They have asked it to be played on international returns (apparently people hide drugs in the slides of instruments).
Just place the flute case in it's own basket so it sits as you want it to. If they need to open it it will already be oriented correctly. MOST, inspectors understand the expense of special handling items and will usually pull you aside and ask you to open or remove things if it needs to be opened.
I do not suggest telling them in advance what they are going to see. It distracts them from their procedures and the TSA takes this as a flag. I remember in Dallas when I told them, "that item that looks like an Uzi is really just a music stand". Before I even knew what was happening I was being held by the arms by two armed agents and escorted into secondary. Now, I don't say a thing.
Mostly nothing is said. 1 out of 10 times they comment by saying, "Oh, are you a musician"? 1 in 25 they ask what instrument it is.
You know, there is not much rational in all these (as told with the example of glasss bottles). It depends a lot on the agent, the airport and the alert level they are in at that moment.
IMO a wood or plastic stick without points can be no hazard in a plane so it should be allowed. The worst that can happen is that you are told to check the rod as luggage and as this is normally impossible, you risk to leave the rod right there and have to buy a new one. But quite improbable, I guess.
If there is an agreement with music associations it should be useful to carry a copy with you. But even so the agent opinion should be above any agreement.
*Never* make jokes about security issues and always be polite and if you are young, behave very seriously. (I am not saying you don't, just a general reccomendation)
I do not like all those measures, but they are in our own benefit and security.
We must not forget that those agents are risking their lives if they ever meet someone really dangerous and they do it not only because they are being paid for that, but because they feel it is their duty. It is our obligation to remain collaborative, even if sometimes they have rather hostile faces and attitudes.
When going through the checks, I always ask myself this question: Could I do the job this man/woman is doing? And my answer is always a decided "No". But they do it and they merit all our respect for this.
When I used to tour prior to 9-11 I often saw violin and violas as carry on and placed up in the upper bagage areas. Now, I hear of many airlines refusing them as carry on because they do not fit in the recommended box size. Most violin case are 30 inches which we all know will fit above, but not in the same shape as the recommended box-area. You can check in advance with your ticketing agent and the airline themselves ahead of time and it should help. When talking about somethign you know will fit - check that airlines specific allowed size. Figured out the total area in inches and then do the same with your instrument. So a conversation of " I know your carry on size is 24x10x16 ,which is a total of 50 area inches. My violin case is 30x4x12 which is longer than the 24 but onlt 46 total area inches.
I have read that Delta Airlines is the worst airline for working with muscians.
I checked the TSA and found it very instructive. There is a section on prohibited items that is very useful. I notice that my drill bits were not allowed...
But no mention to flute cleaning roads, however. Not a surprise!
I had the experience several times of going to play someplace and forgetting to check my mini repair kit in my luggage, containing blades and screwdrivers, etc., most of you know how expensive they can be..
so I had to then go back and recheck my bags, what a hassle, then had to go through security again..
Re: airplane travel with my flute 09:23 on Sunday, January 18, 2009
Account Closed (3248 points)
I do not suggest telling them in advance what they are going to see. It distracts them from their procedures and the TSA takes this as a flag.
I am not sure if I completely agree. They usually appreciate this gesture and it causes less time and hassle. If you don't tell them they end up scanning it over and over again wasting more time because they don't know what it is.
just don't let them open the case, they tend to do that upside down! make sure you open the case yourself
Security has never let me touch my case or anything after it has been scanned. They always yell at me "DON'T TOUCH!" when they have their gloves on and insist that they have to inspect it themselves as that is policy. Some airports are fine, but others (like the LR one) are a nightmare!