Anonymous asked in TravelAir Travel · 1 decade ago

Am I allowed to carry-on a guitar when I fly?

6 Answers

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Doubt where a collector had bought a Louis Armstrong trumpet worth thousands and thousands of dollars and they wouldn't let him take it on.

    Probably scared you'll use the guitar strings as garrotes to strangle someone with....


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  • 1 decade ago

    Like Jimithy said, guitars are larger than the carry-on allowance will permit. But I've seen lots of people on American Airlines flights with guitars and large musical instruments (cellos?). There is generally room for them in the overhead bins. So who knows?

    The best bet would be to contact your airline and ask them what their policy is.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    They usually don't let you bring those as carry-on, because of the size.

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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    Was wondering the same thing

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  • 1 decade ago

    As a professional touring guitarist who has traveled millions of miles, I can clear up some confusion and offer suggestions.

    Yes, you can bring the guitar with you onto the plane.

    No, it will not fit in overhead storage.

    Airline employees are NOT known for being intelligent, well informed or very helpful. So, although it is a nice idea to call for advice, you will be on hold for a long time, will get conflicting opinions, and whatever advice you get on the phone is VERBAL.

    Verbal advice means nothing to an airline. Any agreement you have concerning transportation of yourself or your personal belongings must be in writing. Unless you can get a pamphlet or letter stating clearly that you can bring the guitar, verbal advice is worthless..

    True, if you are only traveling once, a flight case is an expensive investment, so I wouldn't recommend it. Unless you travel constantly, the investment is not worth it.

    Guitars (typically) are NOT used as, nor considered to be weapons, even in our ridiculously reactionary revisionist post-911 world. However, it isn’t good for the guitar to have inexperienced security paws handle it. Plus that is a hassle. I wouldn’t want to carry anything through an airport that looks like it could conceal anything dangerous.

    You can check any normal electric guitar, (especially a stout and sturdy Strat) in a normal hard case, with your luggage. I have traveled with every type of guitar and found that bolt-on neck guitars like Fenders, are the least likely to ever be damaged. (The only guitars I’ve EVER seen damaged are Gibson style guitars, with tilt-back headstocks and protruding bridges.)

    I love my fenders for that reason! (amongst others) Fender guitars are basically two hunks of lumber, bolted together. That makes them very durable. The headstock doesn’t stick out as on a Gibson. That significantly reduces likelihood of neck breakage. If a neck ever did break, you could just bolt on another, perhaps better one. (Actually, guitarists do this all the time. That’s why replacement-neck companies like Musikraft, All parts, or Warmoth have so much business!)

    If you check the guitar in a hard case as luggage, it is highly unlikely that the guitar would be damaged. Over the decades, I've heard a number of false notions about air-travel with guitars. I'll debunk a few of them here for your edification and mental comfort:

    Some people think that you must de-tune the guitar for air travel. I have asked everyone who believes this nonsense to try to explain it to me. Among the stupid replies I've commonly heard is that "airplanes have less air pressure and that can break the neck." Certainly, these people all failed elementary physics.

    Air pressure has nothing to do with the tension of your strings, whether they are tuned to pitch or not. Even extreme cold will not damage the guitar. De-tuning strings may in fact increase the likelihood of damage or miss-alignment of strings. It is best to keep the guitar tuned, or at least not radically de-tuned.

    Cold might cause finish-checking to occur on a lacquer finish. But that’s about it. Finish-checking is caused by the sudden shift in temperature from cold to warm, not the actual cold by itself. Besides, most Fender guitars do not have lacquer finishes. Also, finish-checking does have any negative affect on an electric guitar’s playability or tone.

    Even if it were true that “air pressure” had anything to do with guitar air travel, it wouldn’t matter anyway. The baggage compartment is both pressurized, AND heated. How do you think animals survive in the baggage area? Little Fluffy and loyal Fido always arrive safely (that is, if their owners do!) If your plane arrives in one piece, your guitar will too.

    The biggest danger to your guitar is in handling. Those people that work in baggage handling have an ENORMOUS job. They work hard, fast and furiously. As such, they do not have time to gently lift and place every article they touch. If you have ever seen them in action, (as I have) you will understand what I mean!

    Baggage handling equipment is no better! Watch the path your luggage takes as it meanders down the line. You wouldn’t want to be an unprotected guitar on the turnstile!

    Your best defense against damage is a decent hard shell case. The stock Fender case is just fine. If the plane becomes de-pressurized or encounters violent turbulence, you will have more pressing concerns.

    With only a soft case or "gig-bag" you cannot expect the guitar to fair well during handling if you check it through luggage. Therefore, you must insist that you travel with the guitar. That MAY require some extra fees. Whoever said that fee was in the $75 dollar range, must have been talking about travel over a decade ago, or at least not on any airline I know.

    Typically, professionals expect to pay AT LEAST $100 bucks for EACH case they check. That’s one reason we use big flight cases that hold several guitars. One case= one charge for many guitars= cheaper. But it sounds like you don’t have or need that option.

    Would you reconsider shipping the instrument?

    MANY times it is FAR more convenient to NOT carry your guitar with you.

    ANYTHING that is valuable or delicate can be shipped. Use a shipping service (like Pak-Mail). Not only will they will pack your guitar for shipment carefully, (with proven packing material and professional technique) … they will mail it for you and insure it!

    I have used this method a lot and recommend it. You don’t have to carry extra luggage. You don’t worry about overworked disgruntled baggage-handlers or mindless machines. The guitar arrives at your destination when you want it to, so you don’t have to lug it through airports, in cabs, to the bathroom, the lounge …etc. I have NEVER had a guitar damaged this way despite countless trips. Shipping boxes are basically cheap expendable versions of flight cases. They are designed to sacrifice themselves to protect the guitar. They do that job with amazing performance! Just think about the huge numbers of guitars that are shipped worldwide everyday. Only a tiny percentage of those incurs ANY damage. The cost for this service is easily comparable to extra carry-on charges, probably less. And if there ever was a problem with a lost, stolen or damaged item, insurance will cover it!

    I appreciate the fact that a family member let you borrow his “special” Strat. It is good that you are responsible and concerned about it. But you shouldn’t assume that the best way to care for it is to personally carry it during air travel. You stand far less chance of losing or damaging the guitar by shipping it. Remember, EVERY guitar that was EVER purchased at ANY store, had to be shipped to that store. It survived then. It will most likely survive again.

    Then there is the issue of this particular guitar’s “special ness.”

    To your uncle, or perhaps yourself, this particular instrument may have some irreplaceable sentimental value. But as a guitar, all Strats, including that limited edition Strat, are just production models. It is not an antique. It is not unique. It is not a delicate two-hundred and fifty year old Stradivarius. It is not irreplaceable by insurance standards.

    You , (or your uncle) would lose nothing material if it had to be replaced. You might even gain something in the bargain! I’m not suggesting you insure it for more than it actual value! It’s just that modern guitars are improving all the time. Despite inflation, the price-to-performance ratio of guitars is getting better. If your uncle paid $1500 for that guitar ten years ago, the same money will buy a better guitar now. Also, it is not fraudulent to include extra insurance if that reflects a reasonable allowance for inflation since the time of purchase.

    I am not insulting your uncle’s precious Strat. However, all Fender production models are a common commodity, …nothing more. You would definitely save yourself some hassle and probably save some money by shipping it.

    Bottom line: with luck and some nice negotiation, it is possible to carry on a guitar and have the flight attendant put it in a closet. But then again, you may have to pay.

    Nobody in his ( or her) right mind wants to carry a gig-bag through an airport. It looks like something that may attract unwanted attention from overzealous Barney-types. Airport security people are demonstrably torpid. You don’t want them pawing your axe.

    If you have a stock hard-shell case for the guitar, you can check it without any special precautions. The guitar will probably make it. At least, I have NEVER had a problem despite decades of travel.

    If you want less hassle and guaranteed delivery, (or possibly replacement with an equal or better guitar) please consider shipping it via a reputable mailing service like Pak Mail. That way you have a written guarantee from the shipping service, its insurance company AND the delivery company. I know from long painful experience, those entities are FAR more reliable and MUCH easier to deal with.

    As a professional traveling guitarist, I recommend shipping the Strat. I’ve never had a problem with that method. It is far less hassle, doesn’t cost much and you get a guarantee.

    Best Wishes!

    Source(s): decades of pro touring
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  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    Well, it depends..

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