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My band has been selected to play at Summer's End festival in Wales in early October of this year.  I will need to bring both my JTV89F and Helix.  I know there has been new legislation for bringing instruments into the cabin vs checking them in like luggage.  If anyone has been traveling recently especially with a guitar I would certainly appreciate any insight or what to expect traveling overseas with an instrument.

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No idea what the new rules are, but personally, if I couldn't take it in the cabin with me, then it ain't coming along for the ride. Unless it was a throw-away instrument that I wouldn't mind never seeing again. I don't trust baggage handlers with anything that can't be folded and stuffed in a suitcase...and even then it's a minor miracle if your underwear lands in the same country you do...

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It will likely be difficult to carry on a Helix and a guitar. If the Helix is adequately packaged, it should be OK to check. But I'd only carry on the guitar, any guitar. They won't make it through baggage.

 

If I were traveling, I might consider using an iPad for an amp model. Check out ToneStack. I've been experimenting with it as a backup for my Helix. So far I like the amps as much or more than Bias FX, and the effects are definitely better than Bias FX. I'm still experimenting with the cabinet models - that might be the weakest part of ToneStack, and maybe Bias FX too. You'll need an interface, a Bluetooth MIDI pedalboard, and make sure your Variax has a fully charged battery.

 

Not ideal, but maybe a good option.

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I have flown with a vaxplant, and got around this conundrum by taking the neck off the guitar, and packing it all very well inside my suitcase. You could also investigate hiring a Helix for the gig in Wales, surely....

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Thanks for the replies so far.  HELIX would have to be checked, and trying to find one to rent would be an option but again would have to find one first.  Also the group's music requires multiple Variax model changes via vdi.  

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This isn't a huge festival is it... I presume you are Elephants of Scotland as the only US act on the bill. So I don't think there is a lot of spare cash.

 

You could try and find somebody from south Wales or mid-west country England or just tickets who has both you might be able to borrow? Perhaps in exchange for tickets for the sold-out event and backstage access. 

 

You can ask here, on the gear page and perhaps the facebook group. If you can match up with somebody comfortable with it then you can send all your patches across and get them loaded (bring backup copy on USB/Laptop as well). 

 

Nothing to loose from asking is there?

 

I have a JTV-69 and Helix but I am over 75 miles away and no tickets. 

 

 

I had a similar dilemma as we were thinking of doing an event in portugal that was free food and accommodation rather than seriously covering costs - more a few days holiday on the cheap. But I don't have flight cases and needed both Helix and JTV-69. So it was excess baggage charges and new cases or what...? My solution before it was cancelled was that I was going to take the neck off the guitar and pack it all carefully padded with my clothing in a suitcase.

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Yup its the Elephants of Scotland, unfortunately we only get tickets for our spouses/girlfriends and nothing else and like you said no other real compensation.  Thank you for your suggestion and you are right nothing lost by asking.

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Any local music shop at the event that can sponsor your band?

A nice advert at the end of your set can be beneficial to them (AND LINE 6).

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I just took my JTV69US on a flight with me from Minneapolis to Philadelphia on Delta. I put it in a Fender gig bag I have and took it on as carry-on. I was playing at a party for trade show I was attending. I had no problem taking it on as a carry-on. The flight attendant let me put it in the closet near the front of the place. As far as effects, I didn't bring my Helix. I was playing through a rented backline amp, so I took a little Pedaltrain Metro 20 board with my M9 and a few other pedals on it. I just took a slightly bigger suitcase, and packed the board in there. If it were a different type of gig, I'd probably have taken my Helix in an ATA case, but I didn't really want to pay to check it for this thing, which was just a piecemeal band of lighting people.

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This is from the United website and is pretty standard.

 

Musical instruments

Depending on their size, musical instruments can be carried on board, handled as checked baggage, or carried as cabin-seat baggage.

In the case of customers who purchased a Basic Economy ticket, a small musical instrument may be carried on instead of a small personal item, subject to the same conditions below. A larger musical instrument that does not fit in the overhead bin and is brought to the gate will be checked to your final destination and subject to the applicable checked baggage fees plus a $25 gate handling charge.

As carry-on

As part of the allowance of one carry-on bag plus one personal item, a passenger may carry a violin, guitar or other small musical instrument onboard the aircraft if:

  1. The instrument can be stowed in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of the passenger; and
  2. There is space for stowage at the time when the passenger boards the aircraft

Musical instruments transported onboard United and United Express aircraft must be in hard-shell cases.

As checked baggage

An instrument should be packed in a hard-shell case to keep it protected during normal handling. Excess checked baggage service charges may apply if the customer is checking more than two items. Oversize charges apply to musical instruments that measure 63 - 115 linear inches. Overweight charges apply to musical instruments that are over 50 pounds, but musical instruments weighing up to 165 pounds will be accepted. If the instrument is over 115 linear inches, please contact the United Customer Contact Center.

Additionally, customers should loosen the strings on stringed instruments to protect the neck against damage caused by expansion and contraction, which can result from temperature variations during flight.

See our Checked Baggage page for additional information about checking items.

As cabin-seat baggage

United will allow a customer to purchase a seat for a musical instrument that is too fragile or bulky to be handled as checked baggage.

Excess Valuation may not be purchased for musical instruments.

See our Cabin-seat Baggage page for more information on purchasing a seat for a fragile or bulky item.

 

This doesn't mention this but using a soft case is often required for them to take it as carry on. However, there is a danger of them saying there is no room for it (see section 2). This means it will have to be checked. All airlines have this right. So you risk having to check a guitar in a soft case, which is bad, or having to buy a seat for your instrument. Most of the time there will be room but the possibility there won't be is there.

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To add to my post above, on my return flight, the flight attendant just told me to put the guitar in the overhead bin. I had an upgraded seat, so I boarded pretty early, so there was still plenty of room. I guess as long as you know you're board relatively early, you should be OK. There is always a chance you'd have to gate check it, though. I have checked guitars before and haven't had issues. I've used on the Fender SKB ATA cases, and it worked fine. If I were traveling internationally with my Variax, I'd probably buy one of those and use that.

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Luckily, I’ve got elite FF (frequent flyer) status and usually have no issues stuffing acoustic guitar semi-hard case (sometimes electric/variax gig bag) in overhead or vertical closet with FA (flight attendant) permission.  

 

More often, Variax rides in Pelican ATA roller case checked in cargo hold.  Main question: "is that a firearm?"  LOL...

 

BUT remember to remove any battery packs and that includes legacy Variax with Alkaline bricks or JVT’s with Lithium pack.  I even printed a page slipped under strings for TSA which reads “NO BATTERIESâ€, please latch case carefully…  

 

I also do this for my pedal board which doesn’t normally carry batteries installed in most pedals but every once in a while I forget a 9V or something that got left in a pedal while testing, etc.  

 

I don’t think TSA’s too hard core about small Alkaline cells but I don’t give them any reason to tear into my gear when checked through to destinations.  

 

All my battery packs including Alkaline travel as carry on inside an RC Lipo fire-resistant charging bag.  Tape or plugs over any bare metal contacts.  At most airports best to take them out of your carry on bag and place them in a tub for Xray screening.  

 

TSA allows unlimited number of Lithium chemistry in carry on luggage IF each pack is less than 100Wh.  Multiply V x Ah to determine Wh.  

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