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What in particular? I assume you're asking about whether they get uptight upon seeing the concertina in the xray machine, yes?

 

What I've done so far, having read such advice on both concertina and melodeon forums, is to give the security folks a heads-up when I send the cased concertina through the machine. That way they don't get concerned seeing a small box full of metal levers and buttons and all. Since a lot of people don't know what a "concertina" is, I just grit my teeth and call it a "small accordion".

 

I come from a military background, and to a man my friends have been confused by the name of the instrument since "concertina" means that spiral-looped barbed wire the military uses. I usually have to explain that the wire is named after the instrument, not vice-versa.

 

2dkfv2g.jpg

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I've found that no matter what I tell the TSA (or other security agencies in Europe) person who takes my bag to put it on the conveyor belt -- ie, "there's a musical instrument that looks odd in this bag" -- it doesn't matter because that person does not talk to the people looking at the x-ray pictures. The people looking at the x-ray pictures will not ever hear this information. They will divert your bag from the "you can pick it up and walk away once you've put your shoes on" belt to the "hand-inspection by a security person" belt, and that person will also have no idea that you once told someone there's a musical instrument in your bag.

 

That person will ask you to open your bag. When you show them the concertina, just say "it's a musical instrument"; if they look at you quizzically, you could then say "... it's similar to an accordion". They'll typically shrug and let you go, but sometimes they will pick up the concertina (still in its case) and walk it over to the x-ray operator to confirm with them that this seems like the object they questioned. I've never had them actually ask to take it out of the case, though I've heard reports that they sometimes do ask this (or even ask you to play it).

 

I was once asked to play a harmonica that was in my pocket, but that was in 1998.

Edited by wayman
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I've been asked to play a few times whilst passing through security - a couple of bars of any tune is usually enough.

 

I always tell them it's a small accordion - this information is sometimes conveyed to the person watching the x-ray machine.

 

And on a couple of occasions, the security person in question has known exactly what instrument it is.

Edited by SteveS
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No real issues. I feel as though being relaxed and if questioned tell him it is a musical instrument. I travel frequently with concertina or ( two ), flutes and whistles. I have on occasion had the case opened, and even had them run security swabs for chemical tests. Only occasionally has anyone ever picked it up out of the case, but here is what I have done in that situation. "That is a pretty valuable instrument, and if you wish to handle it, may I tell you a safe way?" I smile, and all is usually fine. I suspect the worse thing is to be combative, and accuse them of rough handling something they know nothing about. In comparison to many instruments through the x ray a concertina does look scary.

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Though oddly enough, the musical instrument I got the most concerned reactions to was my set of delrin Scottish smallpipes...

 

 

They were probably afraid you would play them :).

 

 

Sorry.. it was obvious you were waiting for someone to say it.

 

--

Bill

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What in particular? I assume you're asking about whether they get uptight upon seeing the concertina in the xray machine, yes?

 

What I've done so far, having read such advice on both concertina and melodeon forums, is to give the security folks a heads-up when I send the cased concertina through the machine. That way they don't get concerned seeing a small box full of metal levers and buttons and all. Since a lot of people don't know what a "concertina" is, I just grit my teeth and call it a "small accordion".

 

I come from a military background, and to a man my friends have been confused by the name of the instrument since "concertina" means that spiral-looped barbed wire the military uses. I usually have to explain that the wire is named after the instrument, not vice-versa.

 

2dkfv2g.jpg

General Purpose Barbed Tape Obstacle and I are good acquaintances. I already planned on calling it an accordion, good to hear that helps.

Edited by NoNaYet
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I am currently sitting in departures at London Heathrow having taken a tina in hand luggage through security with no problems. On a return trip a couple of years ago through LAX my bag went back into the x-ray machine for a second look and got diverted to search. I showed the TSA guy it and said it was a concertina - a small squeezebox musical instrument. I offered to play something. he said yes, so I played "Off to California" briefly, and got a round of applause!

 

I have heard that the radially arranged reeds in a concertina look rather like a magazine for a machine gun, so that might explain the checking!

 

Regards,

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For what it's worth, the screeners are suspicious of hybrid concertinas (parallel-arrangement of accordion reeds) as well. I think it's in part that the whole levers and pads thing looks weird and that it's just a strange mechanical totally unusual object. But, as everyone here has said, it's very much not a big deal -- you're delayed by an extra three minutes, five maybe. Occasionally you might get to play a tune.

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For what it's worth, the screeners are suspicious of hybrid concertinas (parallel-arrangement of accordion reeds) as well. I think it's in part that the whole levers and pads thing looks weird and that it's just a strange mechanical totally unusual object. But, as everyone here has said, it's very much not a big deal -- you're delayed by an extra three minutes, five maybe. Occasionally you might get to play a tune.

 

The way I heard it was that if you place the concertina on the x-ray conveyor belt with the ends at the top and bottom, the radial arrangement of the levers looks like a cluster bomb.

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It has been a year since the last time I went through air port security, and even though I wasn't asked to, I opened up my case the same way I did for the laptop I was carrying. I figured it couldn't hurt and they could see what it was.

 

Alan

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I've flown with a concertina a fair amount (and a tuba - but that's another set of stories) and never had a problem. Flights have mostly been within the UK and Europe but also to the US and the Far East. I'd guess the ratio of being stopped to being questioned is roughly 1 to 10, maybe even less than that. No-one has ever asked me to take it apart and only once have they asked me to play it. Once I was stopped simply to confirm an argument between 2 of the staff as to what it was properly called.

 

In my experience, the airline staff never want to open a bag or pick anything up and fondle it without asking first - just in case it is a device? I've always volunteered to show them the instrument but mostly they take one look, lose interest and start looking for the bottle of hair shampoo which is larger than the regulation 100ml.

 

There was a story of Liam O'Flynn passing through Belfast airport at the height of the troubles with his Uillean pipes. Allegedly he was stopped and asked jokingly whether he had a machine gun in the box and he said, "no, it's far worse than that". History doesn't record how long the search took after that

 

Alex West

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I flew out of Liverpool last month twice (John Lennon deserves a much better airport named in his memory than that one!), and on the first day I experienced the most unusual security screening. Normal protocol, there and at other airports, is for a suspicious bag to be opened together by a security agent and the owner. (And on a subsequent day, flying out of the same airport, this is what happened.)

 

But that one day, they diverted my bag (a large rucksack, containing my concertina case along with clothes, shaving kit, and, well, everything, since I was traveling only with a rucksack) from the normal conveyor belt after it had gone through the x-ray belt, and then several security agents opened the bag in an area where I was not permitted to be present -- all without even consulting me! After five minutes, they handed the bag to me without a word. This is highly unusual for security -- I wouldn't worry that this will happen to you, and I suspect I could have filed a complaint about it but I didn't have the time to bother.

 

More interestingly, they were apparently so interested in the concertina that they didn't even notice the prohibited double-edged razor blades for my razor! (I had totally forgotten they were in my rucksack.)

 

(To be more precise, I only *flew* out of Liverpool once; the first day, after I got all the way to the departure gate, my flight was cancelled by the mid-February gale. The second day, I actually flew out.)

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I have several experiencies with flights, good anecdotes.

About concertinas when I travelled to Madrid two years ago, they opened the bag and asked what instrument was as the concertina in Spain is a very unknown instrument.

Here in Galicia, and mainly in Ourense province, they are very good and wild carnivals, one of the typical customs is throwing flour one against other, usually after carnivals my accordion bag is still with flour of that battles.

One time my accordion bag was still white with the flour traces of the flour fights three months after and I flied to Ravenna.

The person pased the explosive tester band to my accordion bag while I was telling her that it was flour that we used at Carnival feasts...

Another time was in a flight from Bulgaria to Italy, and that was a more tense anecdote, bulgarian police are more serious than spanish ones.

They made us open our bags with accordion, bagpipes, drum, and tambourine, and they confiscated the cellophane tape that I use for tuning the chanter. They looked very suspiciously at the tambourine and their sharp and almost mortal metal discs attached arround the drum. I thought that they would confiscate them too.

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I'm sure I've posted my concertina experiences in another (long ago and far away ;)) thread. A couple of good stories, but I'm too rushed to look for it now.

 

My only experiences with US security in the past 20 years haven't been domestic flights but returning to Europe, and I don't know if that makes a difference.

 

But collected anecdotes (not just about concertinas) suggest that your experience can vary greatly depending on the individuals doing the screening, that politeness doesn't hurt, but that trying to be too "helpful" can be viewed with either gratitude or suspicion.

 

Example of the latter: I volunteered to take off my shoes -- boot-like, with many metal tabs for the laces -- because from experience I knew they would set off the metal detector. I was reprimanded. The metal detector complained, and I was sternly told to take off my shoes, which did indeed prove to be the problem. I received no apology, and I knew better than to ask for one.

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Some time ago, I did a bit of translation work for a leading manufacturer of security-scanning systems, as used in airports. Specifically, I had to translate the instruction manual for their operator-training system. This is based on a large library of X-ray images of different kinds of luggage items, some of which contain "threats" of various kinds (e.g. bombs, nail scissors ...). These images are displayed one after the other on the operator's screen of a mock-up system, and the trainees have to learn to distinguish the threats from innocent content, and single out only the "threatening" items.

 

If we could get these people to include concertina cases in their training image library, we could all relax and enjoy boarding! We would only be stopped if the security people fancied a quick concertina recital.

 

Cheers,

John

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