How do I go about taking a pair of tablas on a plane?
February 18, 2014 4:24 AM   Subscribe

I need to take a pair of tablas (hand drums) onto a plane.

These tablas belong to a friend who has now moved abroad. I want to return them to him. I will be going there over the next few months to visit, and would like to take the tablas with me.

I don't know how much rough handling they will withstand - I don't know much about them really. Do I need to take them as carry-on baggage or can I put them in as checked baggage?

If the latter, how do I go about wrapping and packing them, and are there services for wrapping up musical instruments for carrying onto a plane? They don't come with any kind of protective casing. They seem too big to fit into a regular sized suitcase.

I know precisely zero about musical instruments, and have googled 'travelling with your instrument' / 'travelling with drums' but keep getting horror stories about being stopped by airport security!
posted by Ziggy500 to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
You take them as carry on. Have seen many many people do so when flying back from Accra, Kathmandu, etc. No need to wrap them either.
posted by wingless_angel at 4:34 AM on February 18, 2014

When I brought them back from India I put them in a duffel bag and padded them all around with clothes. No problems, until the customs official in Chicago saw the cotton-stuffed rings they sit on and was like "you got drugs stuffed in here? I'm gonna have to cut this open to see if there's drugs here" and he made me miss my flight home. Asshole.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 5:04 AM on February 18, 2014

I would absolutely not put them in checked baggage unless you have/can get a hard case for them.
Either carry on, or well insured well packed fragile marked shipping.
posted by edgeways at 5:22 AM on February 18, 2014

Bring them as carry on. There is no recourse to the TSA wrecking your stuff in checked baggage. If you don't think they will fit as a carry on, have them shipped.
posted by BabeTheBlueOX at 5:23 AM on February 18, 2014

definitely bring as carry on. i have flown with my violin this way a number of times. however, it does count as your carry on bag in my experience.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 6:00 AM on February 18, 2014

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