Tips for carrying a Guitar onto an Airplane and getting a guitar through security
Taking a Guitar on a Plane Can you carry a guitar on
board a plane? The answer is -- yes you can -- at least in theory.
It really depends on the airline, how crowded the flight is, and where
you are seated.
Will a guitar fit in the
overhead bins? Yes it will!
I recently took a cross-country
flight with my guitar in tow. There are several things you can do to increase
your likeliness of getting to carry it aboard vs. being forced to check
it with luggage.
First, check your airline's
carry on bag policy. Do
a search for your airline's name and "luggage policy". Print a copy of
it to bring with you in case any employees insist that you can't carry
it on. Most airlines have a policy about carrying instruments on board.
Basically, the policy is that if it fits, they are willing to let you try,
but if it doesn't, you have to check it.
Your goal is to carry it
on with you, but accept that you may have to check it, and if that happens,
your goal is to do the the Gate Check at the very least! This
is is where you carry it all the way through the airport until just before
you step on the plane. You leave it outside your plane with all the
baby strollers. Then they hand carry it and load it underneath for
your flight and pull it off first as you step off the plane. Here
are some things you can do to help make that happen:
Skip the Counter Skip the counter baggage
check area entirely by checking in for your flight from home and printing
your own boarding passes. If you don't, and you check in at the airport,
you increase the likelihood that the counter employee will make you check
your guitar with everyone else's luggage. You want to avoid this
if at all possible unless you like paying extra bag fees and having your
instrument crushed by tons of other bags. If you prefer this route, then
you must have a hard case for your instrument. If you have other
luggage to check, check it at the curb. Stay away from the counter.
Aiport Security TSA allows you to bring
a guitar through security. It fits through the x-ray machine. On
my recent trip from San Francisco, I had no problem. Although
on my return flight, they singled out my guitar for an additional baggage
screening. It was probably easier to "randomly" choose this bag for
the chemical detection screening than a suitcase stuffed with clothes since
it's easy to easy to open and inspect. Anyway, you get to stand there
while they open it to take a look. I took my guitar through security
at a San Francisco with no problem, and through my local smaller airport
security. I have heard of airports or airlines where they limit your
hand carried luggage through security to one bag, and your guitar counts.
However, so far I have found that most count your guitar as a "personal
item" and still let you have one (small) bag like I had.
Travel Light. Very light! Either
check all of your other baggage, or travel very light! I had one
small pull bag and nothing else. Not even a purse. I highly recommend
vest I love that is made by ScottEVest. It has lots of pockets
for all of my small stuff and left me completely hands free, except for
the guitar. My pull-bag was not a regular sized rollerbag - it was actually
a backpack with wheels.
I wore my guitar on my back
with the neck pointing down so I would not look intrusive with my carry-on
bag AND a guitar while I walked through the final boarding gate in order
to avoid before forced to check it. At one point, as I boarded a very small
plane, the flight attendant looked at my guitar and remarked, "I don't
know where you think you're going to put that!" If that happens to
you too, then just smile and ask nicely that you'd like to try to see if
it will fit. (Mine fit easily.)
Board first and Sit in
the back! They load the plane back
to front,so you'll board first when there is still lots of room left in
the overhead bins. If you have the ability to choose your seats when
you book your tickets, choose seats as far back as you can get. Slip
the guitar into the first empty bin you see as you get on. If they fill
up you'll have no choice but to gate check it, so scoring some overhead
space is critical.
it fit? I carried on my acoustic
guitar in a soft gig bag, and rode four different planes. The smallest
plane I rode only had three seats across for passengers and overhead bins
on only one side of the plane. It still managed to fit quite nicely.
Help your Traveling Neighbors Put your other carry-on
under your seat to leave room for your fellow passengers. Help them load
their around your guitar. A smaller backpack will still easily fit in front
of the neck of your guitar. Help someone put a nice soft bag there
before some one else shoves a giant rollerboard suitcase onto it and breaks
the neck of your guitar.
Flying with a guitar Is easier than flying with children! As a mother who loves her
children very much, I still have to admit that caring a guitar on a plane
was much easier than carrying my three little kids on board, at least when
they were younger. Although.... if the kids fit in the overhead
bin for the duration of the flight, that might have been another story!
luck carrying your guitar on board your flight!
Would you like to hear me
sing a song for you? Please subscribe to my Guitar4Girls
Youtube Channel where I have posted some easy songs to play for
guitar beginners that are fun for women to sing.