Expert Tips For Flying With An Accordion
Thanks to Cory Pesaturo for providing this information as no one in the accordion world is in the air more than Cory! So let's all benefit from his advice and experience!!
1. Soft Case. Soft Case. Soft Case. Make sure that you travel with
a soft accordion case instead of a hard shell case.
2. Book on Southwest. They ONLY have Boeing 737's. And they
are the most fun. Plus only 1 time ever has someone questioned
the size of my bag. I've flown on about 350 Southwest Planes.
3. If not Southwest, then book on JetBlue. 95% of their fleet are
AirBus 320's or bigger which are safe, while just a few flights are
319's or Embraer's for flights like NYC to Boston, but they will show
which planes will be used on the legs when you go to book, so just check.
4. If not those, book on sites that combine all travel sites like Kayak.com. These sites do not have Southwest, and really don't have JetBlue either due to contracts, so it works out for us accordionists as Southwest and JetBlue are our #1 and #2 choices anyway. When booking on sites like Kayak, they now SHOW YOU exactly which plane will be used on every leg. So it's your job to make sure as your clicking through flights, that ALL Legs are -
Boeing 737 or Bigger.
Airbus 320's or Bigger. Nothing else. No Airbus 319 or 318 (318's are mostly used in Europe)
NOT Any Embraer's or Bombardier's or something else.
It's Simple; Boeing 737 and Bigger, or Airbus 320 and Bigger.
5. Reminder: If your trip has 100 legs, and the final leg is an Embraer 175, you're still out of luck.
6. If you Must go on a smaller plane (like getting to Victoria, BC), then you split the accordion in 2, Bass side holding the Bellows (This is true for a Roland as well, just watch the cord that connects the left to right side if you haven't opened it before, it'll be tight and you need to unscrew it while the accordion is barely apart). Then put both in Soccer style bags, and put everything you would normally take on a plane (pretzels, chargers) inside one of them (keyboard side is best), and you have your 2 carry-on's. Or put the bass side wrapped in bubble pack and clothes inside your big checked bag, and have your carry-on #1 be your keyboard side. Of course wrap that too since you don't want anything going inside.
7. Boeing 747's Upstairs: If you have to go up here (and I Love it here so much with your little glove compartment if you're in the window seat!), remember that the crew lets you use the closet that is right when you come up the stairs. Try to get on early and they'll have no problem putting your accordion there, since they know you weren't prepared for what you would see on the 2nd floor of a 747. They don't even get mad if something is big; whereas downstairs in any plane, the crew looks at you in 2019 with a "You KNOW what fits and what doesn't sir / mam, Why did you take that?" face.
8. How to board past the ticket guy: As tough as it is to do, carry your accordion in your soft case on the Opposite side of where you will give the ticket to the ticket taker. Not on your back, and Not using wheels (Plus soft cases with wheels attached won't always fit and it looks too big; don't do it. If you want wheels once you get to your destination then buy a soft case where the wheels are detachable and put them in the checked bag.). Yes, carrying the bag low is harder on arm muscles than on your back or with wheels; but this is the least conspicuous. Doing the other 2 options make your bag look much bigger and out of place. Also, and this requires more muscle as well, try to carry it behind the plane of the front of your body when going up to give your ticket to hide it. And of course have your little carry-on on the arm of which will be on the ticket takers side, so it hides what's on the other side more. You can't really get past the flight attendant greeting you inside the plane with this strategy, but by then you can just say "Oh it'll fit, don't worry, fly with it all the time." since it's not their job to worry. You might just get a "Well if it doesn't fit we will have to check it." Ya blah blah blah.
9. How to deal with a Flight Marshal at the door after the ticket guy: First off, I've never seen a Flight Marshal with a Southwest flight FYI. So when you do come across one, they are your worst enemy. A Flight Marshal's job is basically to be a pain your squeeze box. Where you get past the ticket taker who doesn't see an issue with your bags, the flight marshal absolutely may, because Disclaimer: A usual soft case for a full 120 accordion IS Too Big when officially speaking (if they make you put it in the 3D rectangle tester at the ticket counter, it won't fit). But that's because it doesn't take into account the curvature of the plane, and the curvature of our keyboard which fits better than OJ's Glove. So hence, by Law at first glance, you should Not be able to get it on board. But here's where you Really Should Print Out the new law enacted in 2012 - https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2015/01/05/2014-30836/carriage-of-musical-instruments - which basically states, without getting into lawyer jargon, that airlines must At Least let you ATTEMPT to get your instrument on board. Which of course if you follow the rules on which planes to fly, you will get it to fit. Sometimes before you even go through security, a TSA member will already question you about your bag, but you just say "It's an instrument." and usually one TSA member will go "Oh right ok, go ahead." whereas years ago, that didn't matter. SOME TSA people know the new rules. But you mainly need to know this and print this out just to have on you, for the flight marshal, or anyone else who stops you before you get on. You are allowed to at least Attempt to get it on, even though it looks like it won't and does not fit in that prep 3D Rectangle.
10. Watch My Video! :)