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Flying with guitar   You are logged in as Guest
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Posts: 72
Joined: May 21 2009

Flying with guitar 

Hi, all,

In the Philippines now for almost two weeks and settling nicely into a routine. I'm posting this on the chance that my experience may help someone else worried about air travel with guitar(s).

I flew in from Los Angeles on the Taiwanese airline Eva Air, with a plane change in Taipei, from a Boeing 777-300 to a Boeing 747.

Basically I followed Kai Narezo's advice, Kai being a well traveled guitarist, to wit: (1) Try to handcarry your guitar, but if they say no, it's OK to check it in AT THE GATE, to be handcarried to the hold; (2) If the cabin attendant takes it to stow it somewhere on the plane, that's OK too; (3) choose a seat that lets you board early = more available storage space; and (4) be extremely nice to everybody.

My personal addition was, I packed the guitar in a soft gig bag instead of a hard shell case. Figured that way they'd have less incentive to insist that I check it.

I approached the check-in counter carrying the guitar and a suitcase, but only placed the suitcase on the slot. "Two pieces," the agent said. "One," I said. She looked questioningly at my guitar. I blurted out, "I'm gate checking my guitar." "So," she said, starting the paper work, "Two pieces." She then proceeded to tag both suitcase and gig bag, but only checked the suitcase.

(On thinking about this later, I think it was a mistake not telling her that I intended to handcarry my guitar; I would've learned more about the process.)

In any case, I proceeded to the gate and carried my guitar on board with me. No one gave it a second glance. On both main and connecting flights.

The overhead bins come in two widths on both the 777 and 747. A guitar fits easliy in the bigger bin with about a foot to spare. Which makes me think it should fit in the smaller bin also, but I didn't test this out.

The only close call was when a late boarder looking for a bin to stow his rollaboard chose mine. As he lifted his rollaboard to ram it in, I said, "Careful, my guitar's in there." The attendant then rearranged the stuff in my bin so his rollaboard fit nicely in a space beyond the headstock. Crisis averted.

So now i'm happily esconced in country with my guitar. Now to find a talented luthier who can reverse engineer this puppy. Ta-ta!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2010 2:34:35


Posts: 493
Joined: Mar. 10 2009


Post has been moved to the Recycle Bin at Feb. 28 2011 23:37:25
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2010 15:25:29


Posts: 214
Joined: Dec. 2 2008

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

What guitar did you bring to the Philippines? It's a very humid country and I am curious how a guitar from LA will survive there.

Also reverse engineering? Are you having it worked at?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2010 15:57:09

Posts: 14921
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

I fly alot with guitar in hand. Some experiences. Usually they go as you experienced and all good advice. Couple things. There may be connecting flights that have NO on board space, and ALL carry ons except purse or back pack get left on the runway. That would be scary with a soft bag. I have seen a softbag looking cover for a hard case that is a good way to trick the flight people, yet just in case it is hard underneath.

I have been lucky several times they have closet space when the bins overhead are small. There are some planes with these deep but smaller bins that the guitar won't fit.

I have been forced to gate check the guitar for both flights that connect AND some that are non stop, and unlike baby strollers, they send my guitar through the main baggage carousel anyway, sometimes. That is scary. In some cases the guitar goes through a special oversize carousel and I have to wait longer then I did for my checked bag...which is scary too. But at least you dont have to pay to do any of these things....YET. It would suck to have to pay to check your guitar then it doesn't land with you.

There are no guarantees so if at all possible, fly with an inferior instrument vs the one and only you can't afford to lose or get damaged. Otherwise it is mainly how lucky you are if you get to take it on board.

I have been told that the one and only way to ensure getting your instrument on board with you is to buy a seat for IT.


CD's and transcriptions available here:
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2010 18:42:01


Posts: 731
Joined: Dec. 16 2006
From: UK

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

I have flown with a guitar on many occasions. I use a hard case, sometimes a strong flight case. I always I always find it scary. I have not experienced any damage but I have had one near miss - although "hand loaded", by the time I had got off the plane the guitar had been sent off to be put the carousel. When I arrived it was already going round and I just managed to rescue it before a very heavy case dropped down from the upper delivery chute.

In addition to what has been said I would suggest going online and printing out the airline's policy about musical instruments so that you know the minimum you can expect. Use FRAGILE stickers. Stay cool and try and make good relations with staff.

  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2010 8:30:50

Posts: 3055
Joined: Aug. 30 2008
From: Boston, MA, U.S.A

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

i managed to get lucky and brought my guitar on board with me. i have a gig bag that covers my hardcase. if they ask, tell them it´s for work and it´s for the whole purpose for your trip. get on the plane as soon as you can. and carry with you always.


  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2010 8:38:17

Posts: 907
Joined: Mar. 13 2006
From: Vancouver, Canada

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

Marvellously instructive thread. My first intuition was that the best way to fly with a guitar was to hold it firmly between one's knees.

Does no one have experience with those ATA style cases with the twisty locking mechanism?


Callidus et iracundus.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2010 11:37:14


Posts: 188
Joined: Mar. 28 2008

RE: Flying with guitar (in reply to X

I've flown a classical between the states and Japan a few times. Each time they stow it up front with the stewardesses, I mean flight attendants, and hand it to me on the way out the door.

I flew southwest airlines in the states and took it as my carry-on. Fit just fine in the overhead.

Don't let 'em stow it.

I met a Aussie at the Kansai arport in Japan with a bare guitar on his shoulder. When I inquired, he said they let him keep it with him if there's no case. Very nice manipulation. But the risks are clear. it was also not a flemenco guitar and dd not appear very pricey. But funny to see him cruising through the airport.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2010 14:14:29
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