Right now as I type this, where I live, it is the middle of April and it is snowing.
Time to start planning vacations to warmer climates
Thinking of bringing your guitar?
Thinking of flying to your destination…with your guitar?
I have done it a number of times. I wanted to give you this short note on what to expect and the best way to travel with your guitar.
First, if you own more than one guitar, try planning on taking the least expensive one.
In case something happens to it, you won’t be as sad.
No travel is perfect but there are steps you can take to successfully get your guitar from point A to point B on a plane.
Plan on bringing it as a carry on. Most airlines will let you carry it on board (sort of, I’ll explain below). However, checking it in presents all sorts of risks.
Ever sit in a gate area and look outside to watch the baggage handlers throw all the luggage on to the conveyer belt into the plane? Yeah, I think you know what I’m talking about…
That might be enough to convince you not to check them in. Even the most road worthy cases can be damaged, or worse, lost.
Imagine that $1000 guitar you checked in arriving at your destination all torn up. This is a rare occurrence but I know people this has happened to.
Or imagine it lost. Yep, that happens too.
So plan on bringing it to the gate. Yes, it will get through security (just keep all those sharp objects at home. Hint: it won’t go good for you!)
Also remember that it is considered a “carry on”. Keep that in mind if you have other bags or cases that you want to bring onboard. Airlines do have their limitations.
Here is what my experience has told me about this process:
When my turn is called to board, I simply bring my guitar with me. When I get to the plane entrance I always ask the flight attendant if there is room in their front closet. The closet is usually right in front where you walk in and is a place where the staff usually stores their own personal items. If there is room, they will almost always accommodate you. Many times they go out of their way to see if you can fit it in. It really is not a major hassle.
I would say 80% of the time that is the case.
There have been a handful of instances where it wasn’t a full flight and the attendant would tell me I can store it in the overhead bin.
That has happened to me maybe 10% of the time (very few flights I have been on have not been full).
If none of those options work out, you will have to do a check in on the ramp. Sometimes they will tell you before you ever get to the plane door while you are on the ramp. Other times, there is no room in the front closet and it is the only option left.
There is always an airline staff person that will take your case and give you a check in ticket. Unfortunately, at this point you have no choice.
And this is why I suggest not taking your most expensive guitar (if you have many). I have never had anything go wrong when I had to do this. Most of the time it will arrive at the baggage claim for you. There have also been a few times where we had a special location to get items that were checked in at the gate. Airline personnel will direct you where to go.
If you only have one guitar, the odds are greatly in your favor that it will arrive with you to your destination. But, as in everything, there can be slight risks that I wanted you to be aware of.
I hope this helps!
And if you have any other suggestions that might have helped you, please let me know!