A question and a suggestion.
1) Has anyone tried sending their instrument ahead by courier? Having sent business shipments via Fedex UPS and Purolator I was generally impressed by their reliability, care with the package (which I was allowed to insure to whatever value I wanted; not some arbritary airline $50 maximum) and professionalism. I would also note that instruments are sent by mail every day from manufacturers to the stores we buy them from.
2) If the courier system is more reliable than the baggage handling system why don't airports sell off their baggage handling systems to courier companies.