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Flying with Your Guitar

Each carrier (and airport security) seems to have different rules about carrying electric guitars onboard. Regardless of whether you plan on trying to carry the instrument onto the plane for stowing in an overhead compartment or if you are checking it as baggage, there are a few things you need to do. First, always loosen the strings, particularly if the instrument will be riding with the other luggage. Pressure changes have been known to snap off headstocks if the strings are tuned. It’s a good idea to use cloth gaffer’s tape on at least some of the latches to keep them from accidentally popping open. Most pros at least try to carry on their guitars. The worst that might happen is that the instrument will get checked at the gate before boarding, which is good, because it means it will be among the last items into the luggage compartment and the first out, so you can pick it up again at your arrival gate. Acoustic guitars are often too deep to carry on and basses are generally too long. These will need to be checked, so never try to make do with a gig bag unless you plan on gluing your investment back together upon arrival. Basses are typically available for pickup at the oversize baggage claim office, along with golf clubs and skis.

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