Recently I embarked on a trip and a surprisingly annoying project: transporting a trombone across state lines with the help of commercial aviation.
To check or not to check? That was the question. Would the overhead compartments really fit my trombone despite the fact that the case was larger than the officially stated limit of “45 linear inches”? If I checked the trombone, would the baggage monkeys mangle it beyond recognition, delivering me a pile of mangled brass later?
As a hedge against the airline insisting I do it anyway, I finally decided to check the trombone. A specially constructed box was used for further protection of the Pro Tec trombone case. This “special construction” consisted of three taped together boxes, but the key feature of the enclosure was the yellow tape that bore the Italian phrase “Fra-gile” written in Sharpie marker.
What happened, you might ask? The box performed well on the trip, but a funny thing happened in the Boston airport on the way back. A friendly airline employee was inspecting the trombone box while I looked on. He paused. Was he trying to decipher the Italian? He said, “You know, you probably could have just brought this on the plane as a carry-on.”