I recently travelled with two bandoneons on an intercontinental plane trip. One of the two instruments was with me in the cabin as hand luggage, but the other one was shipped in the hold as baggage. I documented myself enough before taking the risk and thanks to the precautions I took the instrument arrived intact at destination. I share my experience assuming it could be useful to someone else.
Bandoneón in the hold: a risky shipping
Shipping a bandoneón in the hold it's always risky and should be done when it is not possible otherwise. Actually the bandoneon arrived at destination without damage, and maybe I was lucky. A risk-free trip it's not always possible. Therefore I do not recommend it as general option; always prefer to travel with your bandoneon as hand luggage. But let's see how to do when shipping in the hold is necessary or inevitable.
Problem #1 - packing
To protect the bandoneón from possible hits I used a bag in which the bandoneón fit comfortable but not too much, with an abundance of a few centimeters on each side. Then I used some rigid polystyrene for packaging. It is not necessary to buy it, stores and malls often give it for free. I cut it and I embedded the bandoneón in the polystyrene, filling the empty spaces. The instrument had to remain still inside. Beware: foresee possible hits on the most delicate parts (the flat parts of the cabezales and the keyboards). In those points the polystyrene must rest flat and without edges. Important: I recommend disassembling the valve lever and ship it apart.
Problem #2 - temperature in the hold
One of the problems with plane shipping is represented by the hold's temperature in altitude. In fact, the wood suffers a lot from sudden temperature changes and especially from intense cold. However, I found a study by doctors and engineers on temperature changes in the hold during intercontinental travels. Even if the outside temperature air easily reaches -50°C the hold generally does not go below zero. It is a tolerable cold for a bandoneón. However, it is recommended to loose the screws of the cabezales, so that the wood can settle to compensate for temperature changes.
Problem #3 - thefts
The bandoneón could be stolen by some airport employee. Personally it didn't happen to me, perhaps because I put a travel lock to the hinge and probably because I used a Makita's bag (a well-known brand of work tools). So avoid external writings that refer to a bandoneón. It's better to use an anonymous bag. In case of opening for security's check, put a sheet inside specifyng that it's a musical instrument, and not a strange terrorist device.
I share photos and some packing details.
As told before, I don't recommend to ship a bandoneón in the airplane hold, but when is necessary or inevitable you can consider this travel experience of mine. A positive one, fortunately.
Sources and insights
- Temperature Variations Recorded During Interinstitutional Air Shipments of Laboratory Mice (publication cited in the text);
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