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Flying With Guitars

Flying with your axe without busting it up.

Here are some tips on how to keep your guitars safe and sound when flying.

Checking as Baggage
I’ve never lost a guitar when checked as baggage (as I knock the hell on wood), but here are some ways to ease the process.
  • Always loosen the strings before flying. Pressure changes are known to pop headstocks. Though I haven’t had it happen, I don’t want to find out.
  • Put black gaffer’s cloth tape over latches to keep them from popping open or breaking off.
  • Most of the time guitars show up at the oversized baggage claim with your golf clubs and skis.
  • To stay within the two bag limit, try strapping or taping two rectangular guitar cases together, but keep in mind the 50 lb. weight limit or be subjected to a hefty “overweight” fee.

Carrying On
I flew three times on AA this week and carried my LP on with no problems – even on full-capacity flights. From my experience, Delta has been the most resistant to guitars onboard, but they seem to have lightened up lately.
  • As before, remember to loosen the strings.
  • Electrics will usually be okay to carry on, as long as they fit in the overhead compartment. Form-fit hard cases are the way to go, and acoustics are usually too large to carry on.
  • In Dallas (DFW) and Los Angeles (LAX), TSA has halted instruments from going through security.

I would always recommend trying to carry on your guitar; the worst that will happen is you will have to check it at the gate. I would not recommend a gig bag, however, as there is always a possibility that the guitar will be put underneath.

Peter Stroud