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Sunday, July 1, 2012

If accordions could fly!

 
Some of the top stressful life moments include:

-Death of a spouse/family member
-Divorce
-Moving
-Marriage
-Illness
-Jail

The list goes on, but I would like to rewrite the list with the addition of:
-Traveling by plane with your accordion

One of the most stressful moments was the 14-hour trip I took to fly down to Florida, with my accordion.

Prior to the flight I took as many precautions as possible. I referenced the size and weight requirements for overhead carry-on luggage. I looked in to how to fool-proof my hard case, and asked around to the accordionists I know on social networking sites on what they do for travelling by air with their accordion.

I was given horror story after horror story.

Some accordionists only fly on airlines where they know they will allow their accordion to be stowed away in the overhead compartment, which limits you and can be costly. Some have just gone and bought an extra plane ticket so their accordion can sit next to them for the ride, others have dismantled their accordion in two pieces - giving one half to their friend who is travelling with them. Others have had the horror of bringing their accordion in a soft gig bag and were told to check it with their luggage - probably the scariest thing you can have happen since a soft gig bag is not enough to protect an instrument from being thrown into the belly of a plane. Others have invested in a unsinkable, bullet proof, bank-breaking cases - which weigh twice the weight of an accordion.

The AFM has a policy now in place with North American airlines, that with displaying this agreement to everyone involved in the airline process, you can request to have your instrument come on the plane with you. This document shows the instrument is your livelihood and needs to be kept safe. That all depends on the airline, and if they are agreeable to the policy.

When I flew down with my accordion, to Orlando FL, I was so stressed out. Lifting 20 pounds of cumbersome weight over your head, into a compartment is a test of strength, and a test of trust from the passengers around you - who hope you don't drop an accordion on their heads. I made sure to be close to the start of the line up for boarding the plane, the sooner you're there, the sooner you can find enough space to stow your squeezebox. Some of the attendants were not pleased with what I was bringing on with me, telling me I might have to check it. I made sure that did not happen - as it was only in a soft case. It was such a hassle, having a portable dolly to wheel around my accordion from airport gate to airport gate.

There has got to be a better way!

My experience now, with arriving in Berlin:

I decided I had had enough of this worrying with carrying my accordion on, but also Air Berlin had specific requirements with what you could bring on as a carry-on item. It had to be under 8 kg for one... So, to save the hassle of hoofing around an accordion in airports, and worrying about flight attendants not permitting my accordion I decided to check it with my other luggage.

I made the choice of getting a better hard case then what my Guerrini came with. I got a Excalibur Travelmate Accordion Case, which has a built in retractable handle and wheels, as well as some excellent tips from Tempo Trend's Martin Hergt, on how to secure the accordion within the case for travel. After all, accordions are shipped worldwide in packed boxes, and make it to and from continents in one piece.

First off, I put a piece of cardboard into the bass side - which secures the bass buttons from falling through - I forgot to put tape across the rows of buttons, but it didn't seem to matter.



I also taped down the first two keys on the keyboard, and left a snap undone. This was for any forceful dropping that my occur. It would allow air to come out with ease, and not blow any parts inside.



I packed it in my soft case, as well as had extra padding from my costumes inside the hard case.



I've unpacked it, thought everything was fine, but am now finding the metal "Superlini" bass switch is frozen in place. The framing one moves, the inside "Superlini" does not. It's not frozen the way that works for me, it's stuck in the lighter tenor bass sound, and I prefer the deeper one for playing. Not good!

The keyboard seems to be fine, and all the voice switches work. I'm now on the hunt to find someone to fix my bass switch. At least I can still play my accordion! Phew! It's just not playing to it's full potential, and what I find ideal.

With such a delicate portable instrument, there needs to be more invention with fool proofing them for travel!

HEY! I'm in BERLIN! I flew to BERLIN, mit mein akkordeon!






















 OH YA! It's Canada Day. I haven't been in Canada for July 1st for two years in a row now. Keep it classy, Canada!

I'll have many more Berlin updates for you soon :)

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