Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TSA Travel Tips: Traveling With Musical Instruments



Guitar
To help passengers who are traveling with instruments, TSA partnered with musical organizations around the country to understand the challenges of transporting musical instruments, and we recommend the following:

  • Instruments can be checked or carried on the plane. Check with your airline about gate-checking or stowing your instrument in the cabin prior to travel so you can fully understand their policies. 
  • If you have a fragile instrument, we recommend you carry it on the aircraft. Brass instruments are safe to check as baggage 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 and can advise the officer of the best way to handle the instrument.
  • 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 baggage and there are manufacturers that make road-worthy and tough travel cases that will prevent damage. So basically, it’s best to not pack your guitar in a soft-sided case and check it as baggage instead.
  • 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 clear and understandable to someone with no musical background. 
  • When possible, we encourage you to stay with your instrument while security officers screen it to make sure it is repacked properly.  
  • If you check your instrument as baggage, 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 it if the instrument needs to be inspected. 

If you have any other questions or concerns, or would like to report an issue you had while traveling with your instrument, please reach out to the TSA Contact Center or our Talk to TSA online inquiry form. 


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29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah - I'd check my $1500 guitar - NOT! I see the baggage handlers and what they do to luggage. No thanks.

SSSS for Some Reason said...

:... You’ll be involved in the process as much as possible and can advise the officer of the best way to handle the instrument."

OK. But will the Agent listen to a word we say?

RB said...

A question regarding the explosive swab test. Are these swabs used on passengers bare skin and if so are the swabs disposed of after that one use? I have seen TSA screeners take swabs off the table near the testing machine and it appears to have been used at least once or more times. With Ebola now confirmed in the US I don't want a used swap being used on me or my belongings. What cross contamination is being used by TSA?

Anonymous said...

Did your screeners break another professional musician's instrument?

GSOLTSO said...

SSSS sez - "OK. But will the Agent listen to a word we say?"

I have always made the attempt to listen to the passenger as much as possible. It keeps me from inadvertantly breaking something and makes repacking an instrument much easier some times. TSOs are supposed to make every effort to work with passengers in order to prevent damage or loss. The screening of the item must be completed, but working with the passenger on all items (not just musical instruments) is the best policy in my experience.

Anon sez "Did your screeners break another professional musician's instrument?"

Not that I am aware of.

West
TSA Blog Team

Susan Richart said...

Is it now standard procedure for female screeners who are doing gropes to ask females if they are wearing a sanitary pad?

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/23606096-post4246.html

What happens if the response in affirmative?

screen shot/DHS OIG statement

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...
SSSS sez - "OK. But will the Agent listen to a word we say?"

I have always made the attempt to listen to the passenger as much as possible. It keeps me from inadvertantly breaking something and makes repacking an instrument much easier some times. TSOs are supposed to make every effort to work with passengers in order to prevent damage or loss. The screening of the item must be completed, but working with the passenger on all items (not just musical instruments) is the best policy in my experience.

Anon sez "Did your screeners break another professional musician's instrument?"

Not that I am aware of.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 1, 2014 at 5:42 AM
....................
Of the questions ask you responded to the softball questions and not the single question that could have an impact on a persons health and safety.

I asked a fairly simple question about how TSA uses and disposes of ETD swaps, if they used on a persons skin or belongings if that would be a one time use.

Is the question really that difficult?

Ebola is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. Those fluids could be on a persons clothing, on their skin, on their baggage.

If ETD swabs are used more than one time then TSA is very likely to be a vector of transmission of a deadly illness.

Anonymous said...

last year, a TSA agent in Newark removed my sitar from the rugged case, smashed the corner of it and then put it back in the case with pieces missing. It's nice to have policies like these, but they mean nothing because individual agents have no respect for others' belongings and will do whatever they feel like doing at the end of the day because they are never held accountable.

Joseph Haran said...

On two occasions, my TSA-approved locks were simply cut and thrown into my baggage. Isn't that nice? They weren't free! If and when that dereliction of duty is eliminated completely, I'll listen to any other suggestions you may have. Until that happens I'm out two sets of three TSA locks apiece, there's no recourse to any redress of this grievance and hence your advice rings hollow.

Anonymous said...

"Is it now standard procedure for female screeners who are doing gropes to ask females if they are wearing a sanitary pad?"

If I am asked that question by TSA, can I decline to answer?

And do the male screeners ask the male passengers about "suspicious" bulges in the "resistance" area?

RB said...

Do TSA employees automatically get Pre Check by virtue of being employed by government?

Anonymous said...

"And do the male screeners ask the male passengers about "suspicious" bulges in the "resistance" area?"

Another example of complaining just to hear yourself talk, without knowing what it is you are talking about.

What is a "resistance area."
Does not exsist in the TSA world.

RB said...

Will the TSA Blog Team address this latest failure of TSA's internal background check program. One after another TSA employees of poor character, criminal intent, and other defects are discovered. Even more concerning is the fact that these people have complete access to sensitive areas of aiports without benefit of any security screenings.

Looks like TSA is being ran with the same competence as the Secret Service has been, another agency in the DHS family.

"A former Transportation Security Administration officer has been indicted on charges he allegedly videotaped a female co-worker inside an employee restroom at Nashville International Airport"

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/crime/2014/09/30/fired-tsa-agent-accused-videotaping-co-worker-bathroom/16492293/

Anonymous said...

How about travel tips for traveling with the ashes of deceased loved ones? Since your agents can't be bothered to follow the rules on those, I can't imagine they'd follow the rules on musical instruments.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2014/10/02/lawsuit-tsa-agents-unscrewed-urn-spilled-deceased-mothers-ashes-in-cleveland-mans-suitcase

Anonymous said...

Quoted:
"Joseph Haran said...
On two occasions, my TSA-approved locks were simply cut and thrown into my baggage. Isn't that nice? They weren't free! If and when that dereliction of duty is eliminated completely, I'll listen to any other suggestions you may have. Until that happens I'm out two sets of three TSA locks apiece, there's no recourse to any redress of this grievance and hence your advice rings hollow.

October 1, 2014 at 9:56 PM"
--------------------------------------
I have seen some cases of the TSA approved locks being unable to be opened by the TSA master keys. In many instances, the locks sit for long periods of time between use, are gunked up, are simply very cheaply made (TSA does not actually make the locks, they are licensed and some companies have really cheap manufacturing processes) resulting in locks being cut off.

Granted, some locks are cut off because TSOs can't locate the appropriate key, the keys in the area are worn/broken to the point of being unusable, etc. not excusable but does happen.

HOWEVER, many people are unaware that just about all TSA approved lock retailers WILL replace the lock if it is cut off by TSA. Check with the company you purchased it from.

@SkyWayManAz said...

GSOLTSO said...
"I have always made the attempt to listen to the passenger as much as possible."

Wes if most screeners had that mindset not only would I have far fewer complaints but we might run out of things to post about. It is interesting that when I opt out of AIT numerous screeners have told me directly I was being uncooperative. That is an interesting definition I have not previously been aware of. From context it would appear to conform solely to the wishes and desires of the individual screener. In addition to cutting off other avenues that would provide for mutual benefit it disregards official TSA policy that allows an individual to opt out. If I were disabled, and none of us are getting any younger, would I still encounter such confrontational behavior? Since my person is shown such little respect by your screeners why would my property be handled any better?

RB said...

Asked on September 30 was a question regarding if ETD (EBOLA TRANSFER DEVICES) swabs are disposed after one use or not.

Why the reluctance to answer a simple question, TSA Blog Team?

RJD said...

I would never risk taking a valuable instrument on a flight.

Anonymous said...

Last post time stamped 10/4/2014 @1:34PM.

Time now 7:30 PM EST 10/9/2014.

What an amazingly professional TSA Blog Team.

Anonymous said...

Last post allowed through the TSA censors was five days ago (Oct 6).

Why does the blotter team refuse to do their job? Delaying and denying public comment on a government website is unprofessional and unethical.

GSOLTSO said...

RB sez - "A question regarding the explosive swab test. Are these swabs used on passengers bare skin and if so are the swabs disposed of after that one use?"

I can answer no questions about the ETD process as the answers would be considered SSI. I know that is not what you want to hear (or read as the case may be), but ti is the only answer I am going to be able to give you when you ask questions about procedures that are not publicly posted by the organization.

SkywaymanAZ sez - "Wes if most screeners had that mindset not only would I have far fewer complaints but we might run out of things to post about. It is interesting that when I opt out of AIT numerous screeners have told me directly I was being uncooperative. That is an interesting definition I have not previously been aware of. From context it would appear to conform solely to the wishes and desires of the individual screener. In addition to cutting off other avenues that would provide for mutual benefit it disregards official TSA policy that allows an individual to opt out. If I were disabled, and none of us are getting any younger, would I still encounter such confrontational behavior? Since my person is shown such little respect by your screeners why would my property be handled any better?"

I would love it if more of our TSOs had my mindset, it would make my job much easier!
Opting out of the AIT is not being uncooperative, it is simply choosing not to participate in that technology - there are others ways we can complete the screening process without the use of AIT (namely the pat-down). I do not understand the declaration that you are being uncooperative by choosing not to use the AIT, TSOs should simply advise you of what will happen next, and move to the next step so you can be on your way. Any time that you have a TSO/LTSO/STSO make a statement of that nature, please file a complaint with us through HQ (using this link) and post about it here - as usual, I ask for the comments to not have individuals names in them. I hope that your future travels are less eventful than it appears they have been in the past.

Anon sez - "What an amazingly professional TSA Blog Team"

Thanks Anon, we really do try!

West
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

West, you claim answering the question asked if ETD swabs are disposed of after one use is SSI.

Do you realize just how ridiculous that response is? We called stuff like that CS when I was in the military

How about a different approach?

If I am about to be ETD tested and asked for an unused swab to be used would that request be honored by TSA?

GSOLTSO said...

Rb sez - "If I am about to be ETD tested and asked for an unused swab to be used would that request be honored by TSA?"

I would certainly honor the request, and have seen a post earlier here, indicating that they are being disposed of after each use. I can not say that a new swab is used with every test, but it appears that the premise says that is so. I have not seen anything published anywhere else (on official governmental pages) to point you to on the subject.

West
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

GSOLTSO said...Rb sez - "If I am about to be ETD tested and asked for an unused swab to be used would that request be honored by TSA?"

I would certainly honor the request, and have seen a post earlier here, indicating that they are being disposed of after each use. I can not say that a new swab is used with every test, but it appears that the premise says that is so. I have not seen anything published anywhere else (on official governmental pages) to point you to on the subject.WestTSA Blog TeamOctober 12, 2014 at 10:43 AM

In your earlier answer you said answering if ETD swabs are disposed of was SSI. Now you seem to be trying to address the question. Is it SSI or not?

For the life of me I don't see how saying if the cloth patch is tossed or not could be SSI. I asked nothing about the capabilities of the machine.

If TSA is reusing ETD swabs then TSA presents a clear threat to the publics safety.

RB said...

Re: WestTSA Blog TeamOctober 12, 2014 at 10:43 AM

I see nothing in the 2010 article that addresses if swabs are reused or not.

Why not just answer the question,

Yes they get reused or no they don't?

GSOLTSO said...

Rb sez - "In your earlier answer you said answering if ETD swabs are disposed of was SSI. Now you seem to be trying to address the question. Is it SSI or not?"

Answering questions about the processes and SOP for the ETD is SSI. If it is not published on one of our pages, I can give you no detail on the process or SOP. This led to the link above, which is the only published information I have found about the ETD testing process regarding the swabs. If you read that article, you will clearly see this pair of comments “So as you travel, you might be asked for a swab of your hands at the checkpoint or gate. It’s painless and quick. The swabs are disposed of after each use and will not be used on more than one person.”
Thus indicating an basic answer to your question – there is a catch though, it is from 2010, and I do not have anything published past that point and the process may have changed – so technically, the answer will still be “any answer about process or SOP for the ETD is SSI”.

West
TSA Blog Team

RB said...

Answering questions about the processes and SOP for the ETD is SSI.

West
TSA Blog Team

October 13, 2014 at 4:35 AM
.............
I didn't ask about processes or SOP regarding the ETD devices.

I only asked if the cloth patch used to swab items is used more than once or disposed of after one use.

The answer to that question reveals nothing about how the machine works (the process) nor about TSA SOP.

If TSA feels that answering a question like this could harm TSA security protocols then that opens up a whole line of additional questions and also suggests that SSI standards have no definitions.

West, if you can't answer a simple question then just give me contact information of the PERSON that can answer the fricken question.

Seriously, if you can't field simple questions then what is the point of the TSA Blog?

Bob said...




On July 11, 2015, I flew to Spain with my tuba on American Airlines out of JFK.

When I asked the TSA supervisor on duty (I wish I could remember his name!) if I could be present during screening of the instrument, he told me I was NOT ALLOWED to be there when it was to be screened.

From the TSA website:

"TSA permits and encourages passengers to be present when their instruments are being screened."

And here's the link to the page:

http://apps.tsa.dhs.gov/mytsa/cib_results.aspx?src=tsawebsite

Oh, and by the way, I had a photocopy of this information from the TSA website; he refused to look at it.

Arbitrary and capricious application of rules - THIS is why people hate the TSA.

Bob said...

P.S. - my last comment should have said: "THIS is why musicians have such distrust of the TSA when discussing this topic".