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