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Tips for travelling by airplane with a concertina?


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Hello. It looks like I'm going to have to make a couple long-haul trips by airplane in the next year, and I'll probably be away from home for a few months at a time. I'll probably be taking my brand new swallow concertina along for the ride, since the alternative is leaving it in a hot, humid, moldy tropical summer for a few months. Are there any special precautions I should be taking when travelling with a concertina by plane? I plan to treat it like any other piece of valuable luggage (take it as a carry on in a hard case, store it on the seat next to me, etc...), but should I be worried about stuff like the humidity in the dry airplane, or the regular bumps and jostles associated with putting something through airport security? As a new player, I don't quite have a handle on what kinds of treatment these instruments can handle. 

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I have flown with my concertina (valuable Wheatstone) for decades carrying it on in a hard case without problems. An empty seat next to you is a rare luxury. I usually put it beneath the seat in front of me, between my feet.

 

There are two airport security-related warnings that I ran across many years ago that are worth repeating (for entertainment value, if nothing else). I have no idea how serious they are. They are a little nutty, but believable.

 

1) If security asks you what it is, answer the question without using the word “concertina.” Being short for “concertina wire,” which can be used as a weapon, the word “concertina” is on the list of things which must be confiscated.

 

2) When placing the instrument, in its case, on the conveyor belt for the X-ray scanner, do not place it with the ends on the top and bottom. The bellows should be horizontal. If the bellows are axial to the path of the X-rays, the image of the levers radiating out from the keys will look confusingly like a cluster bomb.

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David makes some very good suggestions for how to deal with security.

 

I usually say to the person overseeing the placing of bags on the conveyer that I have a 'small accordion' in my bag.  Sometimes they ask me to take the case from my bag.  Most times I'm instructed to leave it in my bag and if it needs to be inspected by hand, I'll be instructed to open it after the x-ray scan.

 

Like David suggests, I never say 'concertina' because of the munitions implications.

 

On the odd occasion I've had security personnel who know what a concertina is and have commented on it - oft' times it turns out they're folkies themselves.

 

I've even held the odd short impromptu concert.... 😇

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I am not sure if this would apply given your intended itinerary, but were I leaving the Uk ( or travelling to, or through it ) to go to some - possibly most countries given the way we are being perceived within "Europe" which, like the Swiss, we have apparently become "disconnected" from by not being in the "EU" - I would have evidence of "prior purchase" before entering/leaving.

 

A receipt....phone image of the instrument with a date verified picture in the home environment, or whatever to prove ownership, especially with a "new" instrument.

 

It may be you have no intention of coming anywhere near us, but if you do, you don't want to have a "Ham Sandwich" moment courtesy of some over zealous Customs official charging you an "Import Duty", or seizing your instrument.

 

It looks as if, for Uk / EU travel, they have "lapsed" the Carnet requirement for "hand luggage" for Air/Sea ( not vehicle ??) passenger, foot travellers if that is relevant. 

 

 

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Good to know about the word "concertina". One would hope that common sense would prevail in that situation, but I'll be sure to call it a small accordion. 

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Posted (edited)

When I went from Japan to England and Scotland in 2019, I put three concertinas in my backpack and brought them on board.

https://concertina.pinefield.asia/concertina-cases-products/

However, the backpack only fits three concertinas and one night's change of clothes.

 

The trunk of the international flight is large, so I can put it in with my backpack. However, the trunk of the domestic flight (flybe) used when departing from Glasgow was small. I had to unpack it and put it in pieces.

 

There are cases where expensive musical instruments are confiscated at customs. You need to keep that in mind.

I went without doing anything such as customs declaration, but I think that is the biggest concern.

https://www.bunka.go.jp/seisaku/kokusaibunka/gakki_zeikankensa.html

 

By the way, is flybe going bankrupt and is the line in operation now?

Edited by genepinefield
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2 hours ago, genepinefield said:

When I went from Japan to England and Scotland in 2019, I put three concertinas in my backpack and brought them on board.

https://concertina.pinefield.asia/concertina-cases-products/

However, the backpack only fits three concertinas and one night's change of clothes.

 

The trunk of the international flight is large, so I can put it in with my backpack. However, the trunk of the domestic flight (flybe) used when departing from Glasgow was small. I had to unpack it and put it in pieces.

 

There are cases where expensive musical instruments are confiscated at customs. You need to keep that in mind.

I went without doing anything such as customs declaration, but I think that is the biggest concern.

https://www.bunka.go.jp/seisaku/kokusaibunka/gakki_zeikankensa.html

 

By the way, is flybe going bankrupt and is the line in operation now?

From the document and the other post, it seems like most confiscations are happening in the EU, so hopefully my Japan-America trips will be ok. The backpack would be a good shout. Do they sell them in Japan? I'm assuming that you left the 3 without the case, but do you think I could squeeze one hard case in there? 

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Not the case with your brand new Swallow but it is risky to take vintage boxes that use materials that are banned under CITES (tortoiseshell, ivory, some woods), this can end up with your box being confiscated and destroyed.

https://www.musicinstrumentnews.co.uk/2018/06/08/government-dithers-over-fate-of-seized-cites-guitars/

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 5/29/2021 at 4:39 PM, mattx245 said:

From the document and the other post, it seems like most confiscations are happening in the EU, so hopefully my Japan-America trips will be ok. The backpack would be a good shout. Do they sell them in Japan? I'm assuming that you left the 3 without the case, but do you think I could squeeze one hard case in there? 

Hi
You can buy Muji boston bag and Pelican iM2075 Storm Case(Amazon or something, the topic will wrote on this forum.), the others cannot buy it.

https://concertina.pinefield.asia/concertina-cases-products/#index_id2

https://concertina.pinefield.asia/concertina-cases-products/#index_id7

Backpack can buy Amazon or Tokyu Hands in Japan.

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