Flying with a Guitar

Flying with a Guitar

Are Guitars Allowed on Planes?

With so many rules and regulations placed on flights and flying in general, it’s normal to get confused or feel overwhelmed. Flying with a guitar isn’t dangerous but it sure is inconvenient, and who is to say if you’re allowed to bring it on planes on not?

Thankfully, there’s no restriction placed on flying with any musical instruments. As per the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, it’s absolutely legal in the United States and airplanes have to let you bring your guitar on board as either a carry-on or as checked luggage. If someone tries to contradict you, just show them the following text:

SECTION 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.

‘Sec. 41724. Musical instruments

‘(a) In General-

‘(1) SMALL INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE– An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or another musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if–

‘(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for the carriage of carryon baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and

‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.

‘(2) LARGER INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE– An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of paragraph (1) in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of the additional ticket described in subparagraph (E), if–

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‘(A) the instrument is contained in a case or covered so as to avoid injury to other passengers;

‘(B) the weight of the instrument, including the case or covering, does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft;

‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for the carriage of carryon baggage or cargo established by the Administrator;

‘(D) neither the instrument nor the case contains any object not otherwise permitted to be carried in an aircraft cabin because of a law or regulation of the United States; and

‘(E) the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased an additional seat to accommodate the instrument.

‘(3) LARGE INSTRUMENTS AS CHECKED BAGGAGE– An air carrier shall transport as baggage a musical instrument that is the property of a passenger traveling in air transportation that may not be carried in the aircraft cabin if–

‘(A) the sum of the length, width, and height measured in inches of the outside linear dimensions of the instrument (including the case) does not exceed 150 inches or the applicable size restrictions for the aircraft;

‘(B) the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft; and

‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for the carriage of carryon baggage or cargo established by the Administrator.

Here the key point is the section … ‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft. You’re legally permitted to bring your guitar based on the size and available storage space on the airplane. You don’t have to pay extra fees to bring your guitar as carry-on as long as there is sufficient storage space at the time you board the airplane. That’s why it’s a good idea to board the plane early so there’s enough space to store your guitar in the overhead cabin or in the coat closet.

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Check the Airline Policy

Even if you’re legally allowed to bring your guitar on a plane, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) also advises checking the airline policy on flying beforehand. If you’re not careful, the airline may refuse to let you bring it along at the last moment. Plus, different airlines have different policies about baggage and the fees vary as well.

To avoid unfortunate situations, make sure to research about the policies of the airline you’d be using. Contact them to ask about more information if needed. Also, you should know the weight and the dimensions of your instrument so there’s no confusion later. And remember, you can’t bring your guitar if you’re already carrying multiple bags as carry-ons.

Some airlines put distinction between a hard case and a gig bag and you won’t be able to fly if you don’t follow the instructions. The United Airlines guitar policy allows guitars to be in a hard case but a gig bag isn’t permitted. The Southwest Airlines guitar policy doesn’t mention a hard case, but it explicitly implies they won’t be liable for damages to the instrument if a soft case or gig bag is used. Similarly, the Delta guitar policy strongly recommends a hard case. However, the American Airlines musical instrument policy, Alaska Airlines guitar policy and the Spirit Airline guitar policy don’t have any specific regulations related to this.

Carry On vs Checked Baggage: Which One Better

Airlines that Allow Traveling with a Guitar

Domestic Flights

Whether an internal flight or international from the USA, the rules differ when it comes to travelling with a guitar (or any instrument). Take a look at what the most important allows allow and don’t allow when it comes to travelling with a guitar.

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AirlineAllow Guitar as Carry OnDimensionsChargesAllow Guitar as Checked BaggageChargesExceeded Size Fees
American AirlinesAllowed63cm x 101cm/Up to 75kgFree*AllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
Delta AirlinesAllowedUp to 200cmFree*AllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
Southwest AirlinesAllowedMust not exceed 10″x16″x24″Free*AllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
United AirlinesAllowedUp to 63×115 inchesFree*AllowedFee Applicable$25
Air CanadaAllowedMust not exceed 162.5cm in lengthFree*AllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
Spirit AirlinesAllowedMust not exceed 127 cmFree*AllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable

International Flights

AirlineAllow Guitar as Carry OnDimensionsChargesAllow Guitar as Checked BaggageChargesExceeded Size Fees
LufthansaAllowed155 cm x 42 cm x 25 cm (stood in cabin)
110 cm x 42 cm x 50 cm (strapped to the seat)
Fee ApplicableAllowedWithin EU (€200)
International ($300)
€110/$126 Minimum
RyanairAllowed55cm x 40cm x 20cmFee ApplicableAllowedFee Applicable€50 above 20kg
Air France KLMAllowedUp to 300cm/Max 32kgFee ApplicableAllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
EasyJetAllowedUp to 32kgFee ApplicableAllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable
FlyBeAllowedUp to 20kg£30/€40 MinimumAllowed£30/€40 MinimumFee Applicable
British AirwaysAllowed80 x 45 x 25cm – Cannot exceed 75kg (for booked seats)Fee ApplicableAllowedFee Applicable£20/€25/$30 Minimum
Virgin AtlanticAllowedCannot exceed 23kgFee ApplicableAllowedFee Applicable£45/$60 Minimum
EmiratesAllowed22 x 15 x 8 inchesFee ApplicableAllowedFee ApplicableFee Applicable

How to Fly with a Guitar

Get a travel guitar

Invest in a good guitar case

Hard cases 

Gig bags

Pack the guitar for flight

Loosen the strings

Secure all guitar accessories

Extra padding

Put Guitar Humidifier Inside

Put identification tag

Book a seat in the front or rear

Always be polite

Conclusion

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