Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Traveling in the Key of Security: Musical Instruments & TSA

I’m a former "professional" musician - now it’s just a hobby - and I can understand the fears of musicians who are traveling with their precious gear. 

Trust me... musicians aren’t just being picky. Each instrument has its own feel and tone and sometimes it takes years for a musician to find their perfect implement of noise and expression. Instruments can also cost a pretty penny and most musicians aren't exactly living high on the hog.

You've probably seen the old movie cliché where somebody doesn’t like their car touched, let alone looked at? Well… some musicians are exactly the same way about their instruments. 

Every type of musician travels with their “axe.” Our officers see every type of instrument imaginable and successfully screen them daily. Pan Flutes, Sitars, Dulcimers, Theramins, you name it... 

So here’s the guidelines and some tips on how to travel with your musical instruments: 

  • First off, you can’t bring a grand piano through the checkpoint. 
  • Instruments can be checked or carried on the plane. Check with your airline about stowing your instrument in the cabin (Especially if it is a larger instrument such as a cello) prior to travel so you can fully understand their policies. 
  • If you have a fragile instrument such as a stringed instrument, it is suggested you carry it on the aircraft. Brass instruments are safe to check as luggage as long as you have the proper case. 
  • Our officers need to either X-ray, or physically inspect your musical instrument. You’ll be involved in the process as much as possible. Basically, you can advise the officer the best way to handle the instrument, but you won’t be able to touch it until the inspection is complete. 
  • Your instrument may need to undergo an explosives trace detection test which involves running a soft cotton or paper swab across the case and instrument. 
  • It is not uncommon to check instruments as checked luggage and there are manufacturers that make road worthy and tough travel cases that will prevent damage. So basically, it wouldn’t be wise to put your guitar in a soft sided case and check it as luggage. 
  • If your instrument is a collector’s item and you are uncomfortable with others seeing what you have, you can request a private screening. 
  • When checking your instrument as checked baggage, include short written instructions, where an officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone with no musical background. 
  • If you check your instrument as luggage, be sure it is either unlocked, or that you are using a TSA recognized lock. If your case is locked with a lock we can’t open, we may have to remove the lock if the instrument needs to be inspected. 
There are many great tips and advice on the web for traveling musicians: League of American Orchestras’ Tips for Traveling Musicians (PDF) And many more… 

And now, I'll exit with some of my favorite extra corny jokes about instruments:

Q: Why did the man eat the Oboe?
A: He had a strange taste in music.

Q: What is the difference between an Oboe and a Bassoon?
A: You can hit a baseball further with a Bassoon.

Q: How do you fix a broken Tuba?
A: With a tuba glue.

Q: What do you do when a drummer knocks on your door?
A: Pay them for the pizza.

Two musicians are walking down the street, and one says to the other, "Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?" The other replies, "That was no piccolo, that was my fife."

I play the harmonica. The only way I can play is if I get my car going really fast, and stick it out the window. ~ Steven Wright

Thanks,

Blogger Bob
TSA Blog Team

78 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice to know that another hole is security is being patched. But with the news of a new [security breach found, http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=258646] it is now imperative to order body cavity searches of all passengers.

brandon daniel said...

"Check with your airline about stowing your instrument in the cabin (Especially if it is a larger instrument such as a cello) prior to travel so you can fully understand their policies."

Yes, said policies are almost universally "buy a second seat/ticket for your large musical instrument if you wish to carry it in the cabin". So musician-friendly!

Anonymous said...

Doug Yeo (bass trombonist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra) has a
good collection of trombone-specific travel advice
, including recommendations on how to pack a trombone to survive a 6 foot drop out of the luggage hatch onto the tarmac.

GME said...

Surprised you didn't mention this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo

Jannis said...

Thanks for the post; it really does help to know that TSA knows what they are doing if I ever decided to travel with my violin.

Anonymous said...

Safe to check as luggage? Nothing is safe to check as luggage unless it is both insured for replacement cost and realistically replaceable.

Between rampant theft by TSOs, TSA's insistence that bags be unlocked, and TSA and the airlines' non existent chain of custody for checked bags that makes it as easy to insert explosives/contraband as it is for TSOs and airlines to steal, nothing is safe.

And claiming musicians should put a note with instructions in their checked items is a joke. How many passengers have had items damaged or destroyed when TSA ransacked the luggage? How often does TSA needlessly open baggage that clears a scan? (I once checked a box with nothing but a CRT in it, and TSA opened the box. Surely it was obvious on the scanner that the item was a television.) What should make us believe TSA will be any more careful with instruments than they are with everything else?

Why not address those concerns when saying musicians can confidently check their instruments?

Anonymous said...

And if the musical instrument goes missing from a locked case does TSA bear any responsibility for recommending a faulty product?

Ayn R. Key said...

All that and you failed to answer the most important question - what if the glue that holds your instrument together "smells funny"?

Randy said...

Cue link to video about his busted guitar...

RB said...

Checking any item of value including a musical instrument is just insane.

First we have cases like "United broke my guitar".

Then we have TSA approved locks that offer no real security and can be easily picked by children.

Then the problem of thieves working checked baggage areas is a well known problem.

Even if it's not a TSA employee stealing from luggage TSA hands over screened items to people who are not screened properly. This act creates another opportunity to take something out of a piece of luggage (or just taking the whole bag) and provides the opportunity to place a prohibited item in checked luggage.

If it was my one of a kind cello or other valuable instrument I certainly would not trust the TSA, baggage handlers or the airlines to safeguard my property.

Since baggage cannot be secured in any meaningful way we can thank TSA for making the act of checking luggage a crap shoot on if you'll every see the item again.

Dunstan said...

Most traveling performing musicians probably use either a van or bus- Bob should know, from personal experience in his previous career.

Anonymous said...

Are you for real Dunstan?

You have provided another glowing example of somebody talking about something they know nothing about on this blog.

Sandra said...

Blogger Bob on his pre-TSA life:

"Prior to the TSA I was a singer songwriter and traveled the world with my band. Songwriting is now one of my hobbies along with record collecting, ugly ties and photography. My favorite type of music is psychedelic garage rock music from the 1960s."

What say you now, Anonymous, in response to Dunstan?

Anonymous said...

Sandra, way to miss the point.

I was talking about Dunstans claim about bands probably taking busses. Bands do use busses and vans, but I am not sure what Dunstan is getting at. I could only assume he was saying that musicians do not use planes that often.

I think Dunstan should talk to some officers at airports in the music hotspots. Nashville, LA, Austin, NYC

What about all of the bands that travel to Europe - Asia - Africa - to play music? They can't take a bus or a van.

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
" brandon daniel said...
"Check with your airline about stowing your instrument in the cabin (Especially if it is a larger instrument such as a cello) prior to travel so you can fully understand their policies."

Yes, said policies are almost universally "buy a second seat/ticket for your large musical instrument if you wish to carry it in the cabin". So musician-friendly!

September 2, 2009 4:23 PM"
----------------------
And why shouldn't they insist you buy another ticket? You are taking up more than your share of space. Just like if you were fat.

Jim Huggins said...

Bob:

What about bagpipes? Since the Scottish government classified bagpipes as weapons, shouldn't passengers be prohibited from bringing bagpipes aboard a plane? :)

Anonymous said...

Bob, I think some of your brethern should be reading this post after this incident

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/culturemonster/2009/04/krystian-zimermans-last-us-appearance-at-disney-hall.html

Three years ago at the Irvine Barclay Theatre, he substituted Gershwin for Chopin because the Transportation Security Administration had held up his piano at the airport and he didn’t have time to practice to adjust it properly. An earlier piano was destroyed by Homeland Security at JFK airport because officials were suspicious that its glue could be an explosive in disguise.

Bob said...

Anonymous said... Bob, I think some of your brethern should be reading this post after this incident... September 3, 2009 3:58 PM

--------------------

Krystian Zimerman's piano story again...

I really think I'm going to create a blog post that names every incident TSA gets blamed for called: "It wasn't us!!!"

I'm trying to get the official facts so I can share them here, but this wasn't TSA.

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Anonymous said...

"I'm trying to get the official facts so I can share them here, but this wasn't TSA. "

Be careful here.

TSA is part of the DHS.

"your brethern" could refer to another section of DHS

Bob said...

Anonymous said... Be careful here. TSA is part of the DHS. "your brethern" could refer to another section of DHS September 3, 2009 4:53 PM

-------------------------------

Correct. I'm 99.9% I know who that component is too.

However, most accounts I read blame TSA for this one. Not the case...

Blogger Bob

TSA Blog Team

Dunstan said...

Anonymous said...

"Sandra, way to miss the point.

I was talking about Dunstans claim about bands probably taking busses. Bands do use busses and vans, but I am not sure what Dunstan is getting at. I could only assume he was saying that musicians do not use planes that often.

I think Dunstan should talk to some officers at airports in the music hotspots. Nashville, LA, Austin, NYC

What about all of the bands that travel to Europe - Asia - Africa - to play music? They can't take a bus or a van."

All the bands that travel to Europe and Asia probably account for far less than one tenth of one percent of the traveling, performing musicians in this country. There are regional bands, local bands, high school age garage bands, endless numbers of part time players who at most make a few hundred dollars per gig. Really, the stars and headliners are few and far between. Like the majority of actors, musicians who make a great living at their craft are a very small minority. Most couldn't even pay for health care on what they make performing. And, yes, consequently they don't fly that much, because they can't afford to, or their venues are not that distant.

Anonymous said...

Bob said:

"However, most accounts I read blame TSA for this one. Not the case..."

But not the link provided above. That link states:


"... An earlier piano was destroyed by Homeland Security..."

Can you provide links to accounts that blame the TSA?

Dunstan said...

Anonymous said...

"Are you for real Dunstan?"

Rumors to the contrary, apparently I am a living, breathing human being. How about you?

"You have provided another glowing example of somebody talking about something they know nothing about on this blog."

A wildly inaccurate observation, and more descriptive of yourself in this case. Closer to the heart, and all that. Bob gave up touring, for reasons unknown, though I suspect: he wants a steady income and a happy spouse. I'm sure moderating this blog was the last thing he expected to be doing.

Anonymous said...

Sandra said...
Blogger Bob on his pre-TSA life:

"Prior to the TSA I was a singer songwriter and traveled the world with my band. Songwriting is now one of my hobbies along with record collecting, ugly ties and photography. My favorite type of music is psychedelic garage rock music from the 1960s."

What say you now, Anonymous, in response to Dunstan?

September 3, 2009 10:52 AM

Yes Sandra, you can travel the world by van i heard. You really should stop belittling folks seeing how you're not good at it. >.>

Anonymous said...

RB said,
Then we have TSA approved locks that offer no real security and can be easily picked by children.

Please provide peer-reviewed scientific research of this claim and list references...

waiting...

Dunstan said...

Anonymous said:

"Yes Sandra, you can travel the world by van i heard. You really should stop belittling folks seeing how you're not good at it."

Let us all engage in a moment of reverent silence and contemplate the misguided treatment of anonymous by Sandra.

RB said...

Anonymous said...
RB said,
Then we have TSA approved locks that offer no real security and can be easily picked by children.

Please provide peer-reviewed scientific research of this claim and list references...

waiting...

September 3, 2009 9:07 PM
....................
Well Anon I figured you would be smart enough to do a little looking around but I apparently gave you more credit than you deserve.

Here is one link of a TSA lock being opened. There are many othes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6RXWiJbMoY

Anonymous said...

While your researching the piano, what about this:
http://www.smartmoney.com/Spending/Travel/Checkpoint-Gnarly/

At least the agency responds to complaints. A few days after reporting my zealous pat down, I got a call from a TSA security director, who told me he sent one of his deputies to test the officer who frisked me. He was surprised to learn that the ensuing pat down literally knocked the deputy off her feet. My nemesis, he said, will be retrained. Yes, it's safe to go back to the airport.

Sounds like someone should be spending scanning checked luggage, instead of being retrained.

Jim Huggins said...

RB writes:

Then we have TSA approved locks that offer no real security and can be easily picked by children.


An anonymous responder says:

Please provide peer-reviewed scientific research of this claim and list references...

I typed "picking tsa lock" into Google and came up with a large number of links, including at least three videos showing you how to do it yourself. Are those good enough references for you? :)

Anonymous said...

Passengers don't need their instruments while onboard the plane, so they shouldn't be allowed to carry them.

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous: "Yes Sandra, you can travel the world by van i heard. You really should stop belittling folks seeing how you're not good at it. >.>"

So, Anon, how do you cross the oceans in a van?

Earl

Anonymous said...

Earl sayeth,
So, Anon, how do you cross the oceans in a van?

Earl

September 4, 2009 5:21 PM

Thats a fine question you got there Earl. I believe they use these bus-like vehicles with wings... Airplanes! Ya ever heard of 'em?

Dunstan said...
Let us all engage in a moment of reverent silence and contemplate the misguided treatment of anonymous by Sandra.

I'd rather you take a vow a silence, but thats just me. ~<@:)

(good thing its friday, im getting awefully irritable/obnoxious lately). Have a nice weekend everyone!

Ayn R. Key said...

Anonymous said...
Passengers don't need their instruments while onboard the plane, so they shouldn't be allowed to carry them.

I just went on a business trip. I had two carry-ons and no checked luggage. There was plenty in my carryon that I didn't need on the plane, technical specifications for my project.

If it isn't a danger to the plane, it should be allowed on the plane. Larger items can be cabin stowed or have their own seat. Restricting people to only what they need on the plane is rather absurd, but just what I'd expect from an anonymous TSO.

Dunstan said...

anonymous said: "I'd rather you take a vow a silence, but thats just me. ~<@:)"

I'm sure you would love to see everyone who doesn't share your tedious viewpoint do the same. Then you could just have a boring conversation with yourself.

Jannis said...

I am amused by the complaint that TSA locks are so easy to break open. Of course they are, just like every other lock that people used to put on there bag when they check luggage. All of those locks are cheap and can be easily broken. “TSA Friendly” locks are no better and no worse then any other lock marketed to be placed on baggage.

Earl Pitts said...

@Anonymous: "Thats a fine question you got there Earl. I believe they use these bus-like vehicles with wings... Airplanes! Ya ever heard of 'em?"

Anon, if you're going to be a snark, at least be a smart snark.

Someone, maybe you, said you could see the world by van. A plane is not a van - I can't get to Europe or Asia from the US in a van.

Earl

Anonymous said...

I love how all of these posts have decided that theft from luggage in airports never happened before TSA showed up. Yes.. the TSA invented theft and no cases of it ever were ever documented before November 19, 2001.

Bubbaloop said...

Anonymous said...
Passengers don't need their instruments while onboard the plane, so they shouldn't be allowed to carry them.

Anonymous,

As much as I hate people who take everything and the kitchen sink on board, instruments are a very different case. Many are fragile and have to be in the pressurized cabin. All are valuable (at least personally to the owner). Just as an extreme example, do you suggest shipping a Stradivarius violin??

Anonymous said...

Jim Huggins said...
... Are those good enough references for you? :)

:). Thanks for the vid's. I was trying to get my jolly's off of RB's point he was making about locks being secure, but i enjoy your posts just as much. I think thats its equally as easy to take a pair of hedge clippers and cut the lock clean off as well. Perhaps everyone should use master locks imo... theyre "hard". lol.

Anonymoose said...

RB said...

Well Anon I figured you would be smart enough to do a little looking around but I apparently gave you more credit than you deserve.

Here is one link of a TSA lock being opened. There are many othes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6RXWiJbMoY

September 4, 2009 10:09 AM

---
I love how you chastise those who want to check your evidence.

Anyways,
So a young person with a lockpick set, can pick a lock. Okay, and this proves? I've got a set myself (my roommate was a self-employed locksmith in college) and I can do the same with the Master #3 lock, probably one of the most common in existence. What do you expect in a lock that size? You can't have both a super high security lock and a cheap price in the same package. I hardly think most would spend 30+ dollars on a luggage lock.

I put one of the small TSA approved locks on my luggage (not the one shown in the video) knowing full well it's not very pick resistant. But, I measure that against the risk of a TSA or airline employee possessing lockpicks on the job (highly unlikely), the value of my items in the bag, and the chance my bag will be the one selected by a possible thief, and determine the risk is negligible. Besides, if they want to steal something from a bag, wouldn't a logical criminal (most are) take the path of least resistance? Like an unlocked bag?

Anonymous said...

Reading this post, I am amazed by how different the TSA talk is from the reality of flying with a violin.

If the TSA people are so used to seeing all sorts of musical instruments and know what to do with them, why do they insist with me that violin strings are weapons and cannot be taken on board? Why do they insist on touching my instrument, including putting their dirty gloves on bow hair, which should never be touched? Why do they have to touch a violin anyway? Don´t you understand that these are very fragile, valuable and personal instruments that should not be manipulated by anyone other than the owner?

X-ray them, open the box, look at them, swab them, admire their beauty. Fine. Stop any other action. And stop thinking they are explosive, dangerous or suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Reading this post, I am amazed by how different the TSA talk is from the reality of flying with a violin.

If the TSA people are so used to seeing all sorts of musical instruments and know what to do with them, why do they insist with me that violin strings are weapons and cannot be taken on board? Why do they insist on touching my instrument, including putting their dirty gloves on bow hair, which should never be touched? Why do they have to touch a violin anyway? Don´t you understand that these are very fragile, valuable and personal instruments that should not be manipulated by anyone other than the owner?

X-ray them, open the box, look at them, swab them, admire their beauty. Fine. Stop any other action. And stop thinking they are explosive, dangerous or suspicious."


----------------------------

Post what airport did this so that maybe this will change.

Over the years I have worked for TSA I have screened numerous violins, and have seen others screened. Not once have I seen a TSA employee refuse any part of the instrument beyond the checkpoint. However, I have told people such as yourself that the can/bottle of oil of certain sizes are not allowed past the checkpoint.

And always when I have to hand check an instrument it is not because I have thought it was an IED, it was becasue of some other prohibited item inside the case, such as a LGA, knife, etc, or because the passenger did not want their instrument sent through the x-ray.

If you are told that the strings are weapons, the employee is incorrect. Ask to speak to their supervisor, and if need be, that supervisor's supervisor, and so on.

Anonymous said...

Earl Pitts said....

"@Anonymous: "Thats a fine question you got there Earl. I believe they use these bus-like vehicles with wings... Airplanes! Ya ever heard of 'em?"

Anon, if you're going to be a snark, at least be a smart snark.

Someone, maybe you, said you could see the world by van. A plane is not a van - I can't get to Europe or Asia from the US in a van.

Earl"

-----------------------


I went by boat! Best 3 week trip ever!!

Dunstan said...

Anonymous said...

"I love how all of these posts have decided that theft from luggage in airports never happened before TSA showed up. Yes.. the TSA invented theft and no cases of it ever were ever documented before November 19, 2001."

Posts don't decide anything. TSA has left a huge security hole by not securing luggage. Of course TSA didn't invent theft, it just pretends it is not a problem, and continues to suffer the logical consequences- that ignoring the problem promotes disdain, distrust, and derision.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Passengers don't need their instruments while onboard the plane, so they shouldn't be allowed to carry them."

Lets carry this to its logical conclusion- since the passengers don't care about their instruments enough to keep them with them, they probably won't mind if they go missing.

RB said...

Anon said in part.....

I love how you chastise those who want to check your evidence.

Anyways,
So a young person with a lockpick set, can pick a lock. Okay, and this proves?

........................
There is a vid of a kid opening a TSA Approved lock with a paper clip. He does it in just a few seconds.

The point about locks is that with the TSA Thieves and Baggage Handler Thieves working airports a traveler should be able to secure their property with a real lock.

TSA rules prevent this so TSA should be held responsible for setting up the environment that encourages theft from checked baggage.

Of course since everyone working in an airport has had a background check there is no way a thief could be an employee.

Anonymoose said...

RB said...

There is a vid of a kid opening a TSA Approved lock with a paper clip. He does it in just a few seconds.

The point about locks is that with the TSA Thieves and Baggage Handler Thieves working airports a traveler should be able to secure their property with a real lock.

---

Sorry, but you're wrong. That's not a paper clip. It's a tension tool and a lock pick. Like I said, part of a lock pick set. And he had to practice to get it done that quickly.

What do you consider a real lock? How can you make a lock that's at one end highly secure in such a small package, and yet still be accessible to screeners needing access to bags?

Anonymous said...

If the TSA people are so used to seeing all sorts of musical instruments and know what to do with them, why do they insist with me that violin strings are weapons and cannot be taken on board? Why do they insist on touching my instrument, including putting their dirty gloves on bow hair, which should never be touched? Why do they have to touch a violin anyway? Don´t you understand that these are very fragile, valuable and personal instruments that should not be manipulated by anyone other than the owner?"

To someone who does not have an intimate knowledge about violins, I doubt your umbrage as to their screening process matters. As to why do they need to "touch" your violin, I suppose no one would ever think of hiding explosives or a gun or a knife inside. I doubt your violin strings story, as I have seen many instuments fly with me that had strings attached.

Anonymous said...

You say: "As to why do they need to "touch" your violin, I suppose no one would ever think of hiding explosives or a gun or a knife inside."

I say: The instrument is X-rayed. The X-ray does not show any objects inside it. There is no need for anyone to touch it.

You say: "I doubt your violin strings story, as I have seen many instuments (sic) fly with me that had strings attached."

I say: I did not say this was about attached strings. It was about the extra strings that we keep in the box. Happened at BWI, about a year ago. Escalated my complaints to a supervisor, including explaining that if strings were indeed lethal, those on the instrument were lethal too (and those cannot be removed). I was finally allowed to fly after a good 10 min discussion.

It is not uncommon to have to have such discussions when traveling with an instrument. That, added to the liquids, shoes, laptop out and all other silly rules makes air travel downright nasty in the US. Much better to board airplanes just about anywhere else in the world.

Anonymous said...

"What do you consider a real lock? How can you make a lock that's at one end highly secure in such a small package, and yet still be accessible to screeners needing access to bags?"

Oops, Joe took the keys AGAIN. Hand me the bolt cutters.

RB said...

Anonymoose said...
RB said...

There is a vid of a kid opening a TSA Approved lock with a paper clip. He does it in just a few seconds.

The point about locks is that with the TSA Thieves and Baggage Handler Thieves working airports a traveler should be able to secure their property with a real lock.

---

Sorry, but you're wrong. That's not a paper clip. It's a tension tool and a lock pick. Like I said, part of a lock pick set. And he had to practice to get it done that quickly.

What do you consider a real lock? How can you make a lock that's at one end highly secure in such a small package, and yet still be accessible to screeners needing access to bags?

September 9, 2009 6:53 AM
....................
the video I am refering is no longer available or at least I can't find it.

But, the kid used a paper clip. It was not a standard lock pick/tension tool. I know what those items are since I have had a bit of locksmith training some years ago.

The TSA approved locks are as secure as the lock on an old government desk that could be picked by anyone with a couple minutes time on their hands.

The fact remains that TSA Approved locks are poor examples of a lock.

Anonymous said...

URL said,

A plane is not a van - I can't get to Europe or Asia from the US in a van.

Earl

September 6, 2009 1:52 PM

Thank you for that Captain Obvious. Lets set sail to Asia then matey.

Anonymous said...

Anon said

"What do you consider a real lock? How can you make a lock that's at one end highly secure in such a small package, and yet still be accessible to screeners needing access to bags?"

Oops, Joe took the keys AGAIN. Hand me the bolt cutters.

September 9, 2009 1:02 PM

Just to clarify

TSA does not prohibit you from locking your bag.

Use what ever lock you want

Like the anon above stated if they need to get in your bag they will cut the lock off if you are unable to return with the key.

By the sounds of most of the posters you must travel a lot so you know if your property has a potential of being searched. Plan accordingly.

If you're that concerned don't check valuables.

For the guy with the violin and strings. The x-ray show a one direction image, if you had something else in the case it could look like it is inside of the violin anstead of under or on top so a check would be necessary.

As far as your string story I don't believe you either.

Anonymous said...

For the guy with the violin and strings. The x-ray show a one direction image, if you had something else in the case it could look like it is inside of the violin anstead of under or on top so a check would be necessary.

As far as your string story I don't believe you either.

September 11, 2009 12:19 PM

....................
So there is no prohibition to taking extra guitar strings in your carry on?

Never know when you might need a garrote.

Jannis said...

“The fact remains that TSA Approved locks are poor examples of a lock.”

Of course they are, just like every other lock that people use to secure their bag when they check luggage. All of those locks are cheap and can be easily broken. TSA has to make sure you don’t put a bomb in a bag on the plane that I am boarding, that is just a fact of life. The locks poor quality is not really a TSA problem, they don’t make the locks. It sounds like a problem with the lock manufactures, that’s who we should be yelling at.

TSO Jacob said...

“The instrument is X-rayed. The X-ray does not show any objects inside it. There is no need for anyone to touch it.”

That’s right! Your violin won’t be touched in any way if you x-ray your violin and there is nothing inside of it. I see musical instruments come thru all the time and the only time we have to do extra screening is when the owner has placed other items into the case with the instrument. If we can’t clearly see that you have not attempted to hide something dangerous we are going to check you musical instrument.

Anonymous said...

"you can't take a grand piano through the checkpoint"

Oh wow really? Oh my goodness you are just such a card. It's so nice of you to talk down to people and make a joke out of our very serious concerns. You don't care whether our personal property is damaged or stolen but you do get a kick out of making goofy stupid jokes on your cute little blog site. This entire site is paid for by the people and all you can do is amuse yourself. This site makes me ill.

Anonymous said...

"That’s right! Your violin won’t be touched in any way if you x-ray your violin and there is nothing inside of it. I see musical instruments come thru all the time and the only time we have to do extra screening is when the owner has placed other items into the case with the instrument. If we can’t clearly see that you have not attempted to hide something dangerous we are going to check you musical instrument."

You say that, but on scene, every "officer" does as he/she pleases, and many open the boxes and touch instruments.

"As far as your string story I don't believe you either."

Nice to know we are considered guilty before being proven innocent. Do you really think I could have invented such a stupidity?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Nice to know we are considered guilty before being proven innocent. Do you really think I could have invented such a stupidity?"

-------------

Well, when you are less than honest, people tend not to believe you.

I will explain:

First you wrote on Sept. 8th, "If the TSA people are so used to seeing all sorts of musical instruments and know what to do with them, why do they insist with me that violin strings are weapons and cannot be taken on board?"

Then, on Sept. 9th, you say, "I did not say this was about attached strings. It was about the extra strings that we keep in the box. Happened at BWI, about a year ago. Escalated my complaints to a supervisor, including explaining that if strings were indeed lethal, those on the instrument were lethal too (and those cannot be removed). I was finally allowed to fly after a good 10 min discussion."

So which statement is true, which is a lie? Did you bring the strings on the plane with you, or not?

If you want someone to believe you, start by telling the truth.

Then on Sept. 13th, you write, ""As far as your string story I don't believe you either."

Nice to know we are considered guilty before being proven innocent. Do you really think I could have invented such a stupidity?"

Considering that your first 2 comments conflict with each other, yes, I do believe you are making things us.

Your first comment strongly suggest that you were not allowed to bring the items on the plane with you. Only later do you admit that you were allowed to bring the string on with you. By leaving that out of your first post, you changed the preceived outcome of your story, and I wonder if you did that on purpose.

Sorry, but from these few post, I would find it hard not to consider you "guilty" no matter what the situation. I don't trust people that are not fully forthcoming with me

Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous,

There is nothing contradictory about the statements I made. You are attributing statements to me that are not mine. I obviously never wrote "As far as your string story I don't believe you either." I wrote to the person who wrote that. As for my first and second versions of the string story, there is absolutely nothing inconsistent about them, unless of course you don´t know how to read.

Yes, I was finally allowed to take the strings, but I had to fight for that right. I had to call a supervisor. I lost time, and could have lost the strings if I wasn´t a person of strong opinions. That kind of situation is common when you fly through US airports, and it is absolutely unnecessarily ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Dear anonymous,

There is nothing contradictory about the statements I made. You are attributing statements to me that are not mine. I obviously never wrote "As far as your string story I don't believe you either." I wrote to the person who wrote that. As for my first and second versions of the string story, there is absolutely nothing inconsistent about them, unless of course you don´t know how to read.

Yes, I was finally allowed to take the strings, but I had to fight for that right. I had to call a supervisor. I lost time, and could have lost the strings if I wasn´t a person of strong opinions. That kind of situation is common when you fly through US airports, and it is absolutely unnecessarily ridiculous."


-------------------


You are correct, I made a mistake when I wrote that you said, "As far as your string story I don't believe you either." I had meant to type that this was what someone else had said in response to you.

However, your first post of Sept 8th suggest that you were not allowed to bring the string on board with you. There is no other conclusion. You said you were told they were not allowed. Simple as that.

Only after another person wrote in response to you did you then say you were able to take you strings with you after a 10 minutes argument.

I do agree that it was silly and outright stupid for anyone at TSA to question you about the strings.

However, your first statement, taken by itself, greatly implies you were not allowed to bring them with you, your next statement says you were allow to bring with you.

That is the part I have a problem with.

Again, I am sorry for my mistake in my post, didn't mean to attribute that to you. But your seperate post do seem to say different things, and its natural to question your intent, and by defacto your honesty.

Colyn from seven:one said...

You know, there is a lot of complaining about the hassles of trying to get to the gig on a plane with your instrument, but in the end, if you have to do it, most of you will be re-reading the info and researching more info. All we can do is prepare as much as possible, protect our gear as much as we can, and hope that things come out okay on the other end. Unfortunately, most people show up with their own ideas about what they can do with their instrument/gear and it doesn't line up with current restrictions. Do items get stolen? Yes. Do items get broken? Yes. Do musicians think about that ahead of time and make sure they are adequately insured and alternate plans in place for such an instance? Mostly, no. You can't lay everything at the feet of the TSA and the airlines. If you are a professional musician, it's not your first rodeo and you are well aware of the pitfalls of traveling and gigging across the the country and around the world. Prepare for it and be ready to execute plan B when necessary. Your insurance will cover the rest. If you are bringing an instrument worth thousands of dollars to gigs...you may want to consider a "road" axe or instrument for those "plane" worthy gigs. It might not have exactly the same tone or feel, but most players can find a satisfactory instrument to do the gig until they are back to the bus instead of the plane. Prepare for the worst and you're going to come out okay on the other end.

jennyw12 at piano forum said...

As a pianist myself I am quite releaved not to have to bring my instrument around while may friends, like for example cellist have to by double plane tickets to be able to bring their instrumets! Well, there is a backdraw of not having your own instrument with you and many pianists are only dreaimg of not only owning a good instrument but also being able to bring it around for concerts. I however heard a very interesting thing recently, that many of those (quite few top artists) who carry their instruments around, say that the same piano sounds and feels like a completely different instrument in different concert halls.
Anyway, regarding the travel issue, it is easy to understand but difficult ot accept that many of you are having a difficult time explaining to the flight staff why checking in your violin is not even a possibility...

Anonymous said...

What makes me crazy is when agents take the joints of my instrument out of their molded beds in the case. No, nothing fits under them. They're molded to the shape of the instrument. I HAVE submitted comment cards complaining about my valuable instruments being handled by dirty, uninformed gloves - glad to see my concerns are met with stupid jokes about oboes. And that's not even the right punchline - the bassoon burns longer.

In all seriousness, though: instruments are fragile, personal, typically one-of-a-kind, and rarely insured for actual replacement value, and TSA agents are not qualified to touch them, so there needs to be an element of professional respect. I guess when your job is just to manhandle other people's stuff all day, professional respect is a joke.

Latest English Songs said...

TSA people are so used to seeing all kinds of musical instruments, and if you know them, why they insist to me that the violin strings, and on the board without taking up arms? This is why they never touch the bow hair on their dirty gloves, putting up, including the need to insist on touching my device? Why do they have any way to touch a violin? You should not be manipulated by anyone other than the owner of the lot, which means that individual accomplishment is precious and fragile?

Gitarre Lernen Online said...

Once I heard of a photographer's trick. It's no secret that cameras and such things are really expensive and actually unique. As are instruments.
So what he does: He bought himself a kind of "pistol". Actually it's not a pistol but some self-defence device similar to a pistol. It doesn't do harm but still has to be declared.
Whenever travelling by plane he then declares it. Rules have it that his bag (containing the "pistol" and his cameras) then have to be handled in a special way for safety reasons.
This way, he said, his bag never got lost again.

Is there really a rule like he described? Is it ok for HLS and airport security if musicians proceeded the same way?

Anonymous said...

Nice info, you could mention about used pianos as well.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this good info ! In my case, I have great respect for all musicians because you have to work hard to play well to a musical instrument.


Locksmith London

Anonymous said...

It's really good that airline have increased there security even if its for small things like bringing a
musical instrument onboard

guitarguardian.com said...

Quite honestly anytime I travel I just ship my guitar out ahead of me via fedex. TSA agents have enough to deal with in regards to passengers, they don't need to deal with musical instruments and we don't need our guitars, banjos, violins or whatever damaged. And I know about this, my company deals with stringed instruments and display cases, so I hear all kinds of stories on how they can be lost in transit. So just ship them ahead on a parcel airliner.

kieu choe said...

Once I heard of a photographer's trick. It's no secret that cameras and such things are really expensive and actually unique. As are instruments.
So what he does: He bought himself a kind of "pistol". Actually it's not a pistol but some self-defence device similar to a pistol. It doesn't do harm but still has to be declared.
Whenever travelling by plane he then declares it. Rules have it that his bag (containing the "pistol" and his cameras) then have to be handled in a special way for safety reasons.
This way, he said, his bag never got lost again.

beptucaocap said...

Between rampant theft by TSOs, TSA's insistence that bags be unlocked, and TSA and the airlines' non existent chain of custody for checked bags that makes it as easy to insert explosives/contraband as it is for TSOs and airlines to steal, nothing is safe.

Carl said...

I am a musician and I travel regularly on domestic flights and international flights (sometimes to the USA) and I know protection of equipment is crucial for musicians. Although I have never had an instance of damage to my gear, I have had a few instances of theft. This is why I recommend that any musician take their equipment cases to a locksmith so that they can attach a super-secure lock of some kind. I know a musician who had his $20,000 violin stolen from an airport baggage centre and his insurance only covered the cost because he declared the details of the extra security he had installed on the case

Ian said...

I am musician too, but I find it hard to do some piano removal during my mini tour within the continent so instead I rented and cost big time.

wdar said...

I am a musician and love to play harmonica. Your blog post is fantastic and inspirational. I will keep visiting here.

Daily Income Review said...

You have provided another glowing example of somebody talking about something they know nothing about on this blog.

Mp3Download said...

First of all, TSA people are so used to seeing all kinds of musical instruments, and if you know them, why they insist to me that the violin strings, and on the board without taking up arms? This is why they never touch the bow hair on their dirty gloves, putting up, including the need to insist on touching my device?
** Why do they have any way to touch a violin?
Secondly, You should not be manipulated by anyone other than the owner of the lot, which means that individual accomplishment is precious and fragile?

Finally, I however heard a very interesting thing recently, that many of those (quite few top artists) who carry their instruments around, say that the same piano sounds and feels like a completely different instrument in different concert halls.

Nold S. said...

Hi Bob / TSA Blog Team.

How does one exactly request for a private screening of a musical instrument? You used a collector's item as an example. I’m wondering how would TSOs know (unless they're collectors themselves), or how owners would prove so. If this option is open to everyone, then every other guy could say they have a collector's item.

Also, how will the instrument be handled exactly during private screening?