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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformanceMusical Miscellany(Moderators: JP, BGuttman) Trombones on China Airlines: International flight horror stories
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sdjazz
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« on: Aug 24, 2017, 05:52PM »

I'm going to be flying to visit a friend in Taiwan, and I'll be riding economy class in a China Airlines Boeing 777-300ER for my flight. Since I'll be staying for nearly a month, I will be bringing a trombone to keep my chops up.

My only other flying experience is on Southwest, and while my horns always fit in the overhead just fine, I am concerned about what I can bring on this flight. I'd prefer to bring my bass trombone (it's in a Getzen hard case, which sucks regardless) but if not I'll bring my tenor in an SKB large tenor case. Reading through their baggage policy, it appears that they only allow 1 carryon bag (as Southwest allows two carryons) and this worries me about their possible attitude towards a rather large instrument case. I'm prepared to stuff the case with clothes and duct-tape it shut for gate checking, but I'd rather not have to do that...

Does anyone have experiences with successfully (or unsuccessfully) bringing a trombone onto a China Airlines overseas flight? Or bringing a 'bone into the economy section of a Boeing 777?

While this post is here, feel free to post any and all relevant overseas flying-with-horn stories! It'd be cool to have a rough database of international carriers and which ones are reasonable with trombones...
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growlerbox
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« Reply #1 on: Aug 24, 2017, 06:10PM »

There's a stickied thread in the instruments subforum concerning such experiences; not sure if China Airlines is mentioned, but you might get more mileage posting your query in that thread.
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #2 on: Aug 24, 2017, 07:31PM »

I flew on China Air within China on tour with an orchestra, so there were lots of instruments on that flight.  I don't remember any problems - I was carrying a gig bag.  The overheads were the same as normal.  As I recall the bass trombonist carried his Edwards case on all of our flights.  That's the guy who was recently announced as Trump Jr's lawyer, by the way.
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« Reply #3 on: Aug 25, 2017, 12:58AM »

I have heard and experienced more negative stories regarding taking a trombone as carry on than I have positive.

I have done quite a lot of travel with my trombone. I traveled to China last year 3 times, and in the last few years I have traveled to various countries in Europe, Asia and America.

One thing I have noticed when touring with a group (I am speaking about trombone players in particular here) some seem to just about always get away with getting it on board as carry on and some simply don't. I haven't figured out why yet, and I don't think it has to do with what kind of gig bag you have.

A few years ago a friend of mine traveled to China to tour with am orchestra. He was playing bass trombone and put his bach in one of those big hard cases bach provide with the instrument. It had to go under, and when he got it out in China (he sent me photos) the case had some crazy damage and the bell of his trombone had been flattened. Proper squashed. On the same flight a cello in a hard case came out with the neck snapped off.

On one of my flights to Hong Kong I went with a group of trombone players. All thought that they had gig bags small enough to carry on. Half of them had to go under the plane at check in and several came out the other side with serious damage.

I used to have a screw bell bass trombone and I kept it in a trumpet gig bag with the slide in the slide section from a Cronkite travel case. In both China and Hong Kong I had to argue extensively to have them let me take the slide on. I got it on but It was stressful and a huge waste of time talking to millions of people. Several airlines took issue even with my trumpet bag because it was half a kilo heavier than the carry on allowance.

Recently in Australia I was flying with my girlfriend domestically. She puts her trombone in one of those small bonna flight cases. We boarded early and put it in the overhead bin. A few minutes later an air steward took it out and said he would put it back after other passengers had had a chance to put their bags in if there was space afterward. It was a long and unnecessary argument. Only recently she flew domestically again and was told that bonna case couldn't go on. It got some crazy damage when it came out the other side.

I could go on with stories, they are endless. What I do now is put my trombone in a gig bag and then put that inside a hard case designed for golf bags, then put it under the plane. I think that your best option is to buy a hard case that can protect it well enough under. Don't bother trying to take it on.

Most likely, 9 times out of 10 you will get in on fine. It only takes one time for it to not be fine and that can cause serious and expensive problems. Up to you, but personally I just can't be bothered with the risk anymore. A special instrument is irreplaceable and if playing trombone is how you make a living, not having access to a working instrument is obviously a huge problem.
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Doug Elliott
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« Reply #4 on: Aug 25, 2017, 01:51AM »

I considered using my SKB golf case for that trip, but the oversize charge for an international flight to Asia was something like $400.  I have used it before to Brazil and Europe with no charge.
Fortunately I have never had a problem.
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« Reply #5 on: Aug 25, 2017, 09:23AM »

Same as Doug, when I flew whitin China was with a touring orchestra, with tons of instrument, which can be a quite different experience than flying alone, but I don't remember any body's instrument getting hurt and anybody being forced to check their instrument.

I considered using my SKB golf case for that trip, but the oversize charge for an international flight to Asia was something like $400.  I have used it before to Brazil and Europe with no charge.
Fortunately I have never had a problem.

I used my SKB golf case then, because the tour promoter was paying for everything and I didn't care about expenses. Every tour I've done I used it in fact, but I might change my mind...

A colleague of mine, bass sackbut player, uses the same SKB golf case, with her bass sackbut in the original wooden case inside of it. It sustained damage repeatedly, especially in the last year or so. The bell got bent and compressed, slide issues, stuck tuning slide...TSA told her it's because the oversized luggage sometimes doesn't manage to scan through both the SKB case and the wood case, so they have to open it and probably don't put it back right...

Also that SKB case, filled, is pretty heavy, and it's roundish - I suspect it is prone to falling off the luggage ramp when they unload the plane.
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Maximilien Brisson
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