If you’re flying, the goal is to avoid checking your instrument whenever possible. While we feel Torpedo Bags offer vastly superior protection compared to other brands, airlines lose luggage, and luggage regularly fails to get loaded on the plane it is supposed to be on. Do you really want a $3000 instrument sitting on a turnstile in Chicago while you are sitting in a plane on the way to St. Louis? In a triple/computer combo case like the Coyote, that value can easily top $10,000! And all checked luggage is subject to being inspected away from your control, and packed back up by TSA gorillas with limited spacial relationship skills. DON’T CHECK YOUR INSTRUMENT! If you absolutely have to, be glad you own a Torpedo Bag.

Here are some pointers we’ve developed after talking to 1000s of professional and amateur trumpet players who have toured extensively and seen it all.

• Don’t check anything unless it must be gate checked. Even then, have a $50 bill handy to offer the steward to put your trumpets in their coat closet, or to quickly buy someone out of their overhead spot.

• Dress nice, be sincere, be polite, be professional, be early, and never lose your cool.

• Don’t ask questions, don’t draw attention to your case, especially the triples. Hold it on the shoulder opposite the steward taking tickets. Don’t ask, “Will my case fit?” Rather, be as “invisible” as possible.

• Never, EVER check your Torpedo Bag at the ticket counter. Always at least get your instrument through security and follow the above hints to avoid a gate check.

• Check your other luggage, and only carry on your Torpedo Bag. It looks like you’re pushing your luck if you’ve got a hand bag and a trumpet case.

• Arrive at the gate early, and board as soon as you are allowed. If overhead space is filling up fast, get yours up there quickly, even if it’s not near your seat. Late arrivers struggle to find overhead space, and it’s those guys who will be asked to gate check.

• If you have to gate check, at least you know it’s on your flight. Slip $20 to the guy you are handing it to, and ask him to load it personally. Be the first to the turnstile and stand where the luggage comes out.

• Learn to transpose at the highest level, so you don’t feel you need to fly with 5 instruments. 2 or 3 should cover 99.99% of all jobs.

• Consider shipping horns to your destination via FedEx, but don’t forget to declare a value for insurance. They rarely lose anything, and they will readily cut a check if something happens (something an airline will never do!). Put the horn in a Torpedo Bag, the case in bubble wrap, and the whole thing in a box. It’s a much safer bet than counting on an airline. Need 4 horns? Ship 3 and carry one on board your flight.

• Click this link to download a One Page US Law regarding your right to carry an instrument on board your flight without paying extra fees. PRINT IT and carry it with you when you fly. You should still stay calm if the flight attendants are not familiar with the law, or even if they disagree — a grumpy flier goes no where fast!
US PUBLIC LAW 112-95, FEB 14th 2012

• This is the DOT Final Carry on Rule, a relatively bulky pdf (21 pages). We will try to pull a summary out of it, but we recommend reading it and printing the relevant pages before you travel. We believe this is from January 2015, so it’s the most up to date rule we are aware of regarding musician rights. We recommend you take that “right” with a grain of subservience to the kind lady behind the counter — you’ll get your rights when she says you get your rights, and using that word with her is probably a mistake. Shouting “I know my rights!” as they drag you away won’t get you to Carnegie Hall.
DOT Final Carry-On Rule

• This TSA letter clarifies what is allowed through the security checkpoints (It is dated 2005, but we think it is still in effect). Drag the image to your desktop, print it, and have it inside your case, should you need to politely present it to an agent when screened. Note that it allows for one instrument, not three, and this letter should not give you license to argue. It also only applies to getting it through security–each airline has their own criteria for what goes on the plane itself. A cool, confident customer is more likely to get his way than someone who is angry. Your valve oil should be in your checked baggage, not in your case.

Also, SERIOUSLY, read this GREAT article, especially the part that outlines who boards planes first by airline. That’s worth some gold, or 3 minutes of your time.