Friday, July 25, 2014

Have Flute, Will Travel...

The NFA is just around the corner, and we know that flutists from around the globe will be flying in to Chicago.  That being said, we thought it would be a great opportunity to get our repair technician's thoughts on the best way to travel with a flute.  We all agreed that the preferred method is to hand carry your flute in a gig bag so that is on the plane with you.  Our Customer Service Manager gave us a tip from one of her customers, who always puts his flute (in its gig bag) in the overhead compartment across the aisle from his seat so that he can keep his eyes on it at all times.

However, we realize that it is not always possible to carry your flute on the plane.  We asked our technician about flutes in checked baggage, and she said it would be perfectly fine as long as the flute is well-fitted in the case.  To quote her exactly, "the case is designed to protect the flute, and as long as the flute is fitting properly, there should not be a problem."  How can you tell if it is fitting properly?  Well, you can put the flute in its case and give the closed case a shake.  If you feel or hear anything, the flute is not fitting properly.

Our technician tells us that she has seen flutes come in with cases that have "extra padding" inside the top lid to help protect the flute -- but this is definitely not what you want to do.  She has seen bubble wrap, towels, and all sorts of "padding," but this is a huge problem because the padding is pressing down on the key mechanism.  Her recommendation is to pad the case in the areas where the material would only come in contact with the flute body and never the mechanism.  So, where would that be?  It's on the "blocking" of the case, which you will see in the photos below.  If you visualize the case coming down to close, you will notice that the points of contact are not on any part of the mechanism -- only the body.

Yellow lines outline the right side of blocking.  Yellow arrows show points of contact.
Yellow line outlines left side of blocking.  Yellow arrive shows point of contact.

So, regardless of how the flute is transported (hand carried, checked), making sure that it fits properly in its case is critical.  If it does, the case will be able to "do its job" and protect the flute!

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