Guitar Player Magazine Reminder Article About Flying With A Guitar

A friend of mine just sent this to me because I mentioned to him that I was planning on flying with my guitar to Django in June this year, so I thought I would share it with you all.

I have a Mono M80 gigbag that I am planning on using when I have to fly. I am crossing my fingers that I do not have any issues.



  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 351

    That may be the FAA rule, but the final say is from the flight crew--or even a gate agent, if they're feeling bolshy. And if you're flying a regional jet with small overheads and closets, there might not even be physical space for a guitar. So there is always the possibility that even if you get to the aircraft door, you may be required to surrender the instrument for gate-checking, and while that gets around the worst parts of the baggage-handling system, the guitar still goes into the hold.

    My experience with Delta (out of Minneapolis) has been quite good--gate agents don't blink, flight crews have been as accommodating as possible, and the handlers have been gentle. But I still never, ever use a gig bag, however sturdy. The big jets I take to Orlando have decent overheads and closets, but the regionals I wind up on going to Pittsburgh don't, so it's either my big SuperCase (not quite a Calton but both crush- and impact-resistant) or a Travelite expanded-foam almost as tough as the SuperCase.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 443

    Thank you for the info. That is good to know.

    Do you or anyone else have recommendation of cases to use when flying?

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited January 2020 Posts: 351

    I'm guessing you're traveling with a Selmer-style, which should fit into a dreadnaught case. If I were getting a new one, I'd look at a Travelite expanded-foam model. The classic/reso-size TL-60 I use is light and quite sturdy--stiff enough to resist crushing and with lots of foam to resist impact damage. The dread model is the TL-50, $127 from Amazon. I'm not afraid to give mine to the baggage guys when I have to surrender it for gate-checking. Of course, I'm traveling with a Taylor GS-Mini, not my Dunn. The Dunn gets the absurdly sturdy and no-longer-made SuperCase. Nothing short of a Calton or Hoffee is going to provide nearly-all-hazards protection.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    edited January 2020 Posts: 443

    I'll look into the TL-50. I have a Busato style so it is just slightly bigger than a Selmer style GJ guitar.

    I heard this might be a good option as well:

    Has anybody used them with a GJ guitar?

  • DragonPLDragonPL Maryland✭✭ Dupont MD 50-XL (Favino), Michael Dunn Stardust, Castelluccia Tears, Gitane DG-320, DG-250M and DG-250
    edited January 2020 Posts: 162

    This article refers to domestic US flights, but what about international ones???

    That was my trouble latelly. I never had trouble flying with my guitar as carry-on, (to Europe or the Caribbeans) untill this past fall with an international flight (USA to Poland and back) on KLM airlines. All of the gate agents, here and in Europe, were giving me trouble. Part of the problem was the overhead compartments on KLM planes were smaller than all of the other flights l was on previously where I had no problems putting my guitar in the overhead compartment.

    Back to my KLM experience, once l got onboard, after fighting with the gate agents at the desk, the stewardesses on the actual plane were very nice and put my guitar in an oversized compartment on the side.

    Also this is why I bought my Gitane DG250s... to have as travel guitars.

  • djazzydjazzy New Riccardo Mordeglia, AJL
    edited January 2020 Posts: 52

    Perhaps it would be best to ship the guitar on its own via UPS, USPS, to be picked up in person upon your arrival? About $120 or so...but maybe worth it.

    I absolutely dread flying with any guitar even though I have done it twice (both Southwest) with no problems. For the future, I am seriously considering shipping it ahead of time with proper packing in a hardshell case, bubble wrap, tracking, the works... sealed in a cardboard box.

  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 640

    Russell is correct in all he says. I have worked for A------- for 30+ years and might add a few things. Most cases will fit in the overhead bins of Airbus and Boeing airplanes. They usually won't fit in DC9s and many MD80s. If it's at all possible, don't fly RJs with a guitar. Drive the 100 miles to a larger airport - this also improves your chances for a direct flight. A guitar isn't going in the cabin of an RJ. Most airlines have an early boarding option for your flights, and you should always spend that extra money. Because no matter what the rules are, there has to be space for it, and if you wait until late to board, there is no hope for it. Tickets are cheap and all flights are crowded these days. Get on as early as you can, that's your goal. Always be your charming best in dealing with gate agents, always dress well to fly and don't smell like beer. The agents are under a great deal of pressure during the boarding process, and you are asking for something out of the ordinary. If you are rude, they will shut you down. I'm a mechanic and our two work groups are sometimes at odds with each other, but gate agents have to endure more abuse from slovenly, demanding, rude, unthinking and drunk passengers in a single day than most of us do in a year. I'm sympathetic - I wouldn't last an hour in that job.

    It wouldn't be a bad thing to have a copy of the statute in hand, there is a link to print it in the GP article.

    The early boarding option isn't expensive - use it.

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited February 2020 Posts: 351

    To add a bit to what Scot posted: When I was flying more frequently, I would pay Northwest's (and now Delta's) early-boarding premium and pay for early boarding and get a seat toward the back in order to maximize chances of snagging overhead space (or even that rarest of commodities, closet space) for a case that I knew would fit. It was bonus good fortune that their gate agents and cabin crew were always helpful. (Most common remark wasn't "Where you gonna put that thing?" but "Are you going to play for us?")

    But when Delta started using regional jets (those RJs) the Pittsburgh route, I knew I'd be gate-checking--and on those trips I take an archtop in the SuperCase, which not only is big but, thanks to its light color, looks big. Fortunately, other elements of fare structure and our economic situation finally led to a solution that works best for me: since I only fly twice a year now, I fly first class. For a first-class passenger, the checked-baggage fee ($35 each way ?) is gone, early boarding is free and automatic, and the attitude of the flight crew is "Let me help you with that." (Actually, Northwest and Delta have always been that way with me.) I know that first class isn't going to be the solution for most of us--especially for international trips-- but for domestic flights on Delta so far, it has not been outrageously more than coach+baggage fees+early boarding.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 443

    Is anyone able to please share what cases and/or gig bags they have successfully and safely used to take their guitar with them on plane trips? I am starting to question whether my Mono M80 will be adequate. Thanks!

  • wimwim ChicagoModerator Barault #503 replica
    Posts: 1,429

    I put my Barault into an AJL hard case, which fits like a glove, and then I put the AJL case inside whatever el-cheapo soft case.

    That's slim enough that I've always been able to board with it (maybe ~50 times now, I've lost count). But also gives me some peace of mind in the event that if I had to check it, or if some ahole tries to throw their roller bag on top of it in the overhead bin, she should still be fine.

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