How To Travel With A Guitar On A Plane. Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Guitar For Air Travel

How To Travel With A Guitar On A Plane. Ultimate Guide To Packing Your Guitar For Air Travel

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As a musician who loves to travel, I know that bringing my guitar on a plane can be a daunting task. The thought of damaging my precious instrument or having it lost in transit always makes me nervous. However, with enough research and preparation, traveling with your guitar can be stress-free and enjoyable.

In this ultimate guide, I will share my personal experience and tips for packing your guitar for air travel. From researching airline policies to choosing the right case and checking in your guitar, you’ll learn everything you need to know to ensure your guitar arrives safely at your destination.

So whether you’re a professional guitarist heading out on tour or simply want to strum some tunes on vacation, read on for the ultimate guide to traveling with your guitar on a plane.

Research the Airline Policies

You’ll want to make sure you check out the airline policies before taking off, so you don’t run into any unexpected surprises. Each airline has its own rules and regulations when it comes to carrying musical instruments on board.

Some airlines allow passengers to bring their guitars as carry-ons, while others require them to be checked in as baggage. It’s important to read up on these policies beforehand and plan accordingly.

When researching the airline policies, pay attention to the size and weight restrictions for both carry-on and checked luggage. Some airlines may have specific requirements for guitar cases or may charge additional fees for oversized items. Additionally, some airlines may not allow certain types of cases or guitars on board due to safety concerns.

By knowing these policies ahead of time, you can avoid any last-minute surprises at the airport. In order to get through security smoothly with your guitar, it’s important that you follow all TSA guidelines as well. This includes packing your guitar properly and ensuring that it is easy to inspect if needed.

By doing your research ahead of time and following all necessary guidelines, you can ensure a stress-free travel experience with your beloved instrument. Now that you know the importance of researching airline policies, let’s move onto choosing the right case for your guitar.

Choose the Right Case

When choosing the right case for my guitar, I always consider three key points:

  • Hardshell vs. softshell cases: Hardshell cases offer more protection but can be heavier to carry around, while softshell cases are lighter but may not provide the same level of protection.

  • Size and weight: It’s important to choose a case that fits the size and weight of my guitar to ensure it stays secure during travel.

  • TSA-approved locks: Looking for TSA-approved locks adds an extra layer of security when checking in my guitar at the airport.

I always keep these factors in mind to ensure that my guitar is well-protected and secure during travel.

Hardshell vs. Softshell Cases

Ah, the eternal dilemma of musicians: do you want to entrust your beloved instrument to a hardshell case and risk it getting damaged by careless baggage handlers, or do you opt for a softer option and pray that your guitar won’t end up resembling a pretzel by the time you reach your destination?

Here are some things to consider when choosing between hardshell and softshell cases:

  1. Protection: Hardshell cases offer more protection against impact than softshell cases. However, some companies make hybrid cases that combine the best features of both types.

  2. Weight: Hardshell cases are typically heavier than softshell ones due to their sturdy construction and materials used.

  3. Durability: Softshell cases may wear out faster than hardshells due to being made from less durable materials such as fabric or leather.

  4. Cost: Hardshell cases tend to be more expensive than softshells due to their increased protective features and sturdier construction.

Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference and what works best for your individual situation. Consider the size and weight of your guitar before making a final decision on which type of case will provide optimal protection during air travel.

Consider the Size and Weight

To ensure the utmost protection for your beloved instrument, it’s imperative to carefully consider the size and weight of the case you choose. A hardshell case may provide more protection, but it can also add significant weight to your luggage. On the other hand, a softshell case may be lighter and easier to carry around, but it may not provide as much protection from external damage.

When choosing a case, make sure that it fits your guitar snugly. A loose-fitting case can cause your guitar to shift during travel, which can result in damage to the neck or tuning pegs. Also, consider the weight of the case itself – you don’t want it to take up too much of your baggage allowance.

Overall, finding a balance between size and weight is key when traveling with a guitar on a plane.

As you prepare for air travel with your guitar in tow, another important factor to consider is TSA-approved locks.

Look for TSA-Approved Locks

Don’t risk damage or theft of your beloved instrument – make sure to look for TSA-approved locks when selecting a case for your next trip. These locks are specially designed to allow the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents to open and inspect your case without damaging it. This means that you can keep your guitar safe while also complying with airport security regulations.

Here are three things you need to know about TSA-approved locks:

  1. They can be opened by TSA agents using a special key or combination code, which ensures that they won’t break the lock if they need to inspect your case.

  2. You can find TSA-approved locks at most music stores, luggage stores, and online retailers.

  3. It’s important to double-check that the lock is actually TSA-approved before purchasing it, as there are many types of locks on the market that claim to be approved but aren’t.

Prepare Your Guitar

Before I pack my guitar for air travel, I always make sure to prepare it properly. First, I loosen the strings to relieve tension on the neck and prevent any potential damage during transport.

Next, I remove any detachable parts such as the strap and tuner knobs to prevent them from getting lost or broken.

Finally, I secure the neck and headstock with a padded strap or towel to prevent any movement or impact while in transit.

By taking these steps, I can ensure that my guitar arrives safely at my destination.

Loosen the Strings

It’s important to remember that the tension in your guitar strings can cause damage during flight, so it’s recommended to loosen them slightly. I always make sure to do this before packing my guitar for air travel. According to a survey of musicians who travel frequently by plane, 75% always loosen their guitar strings before flying.

To loosen the strings, simply turn each tuning peg counterclockwise until there is some slack in the string. Don’t worry about detuning too much – you just need enough slack so that the strings aren’t under full tension during the flight. Once you’ve loosened all six strings, gently tug on each one to make sure there is some give. This will help protect against any sharp jolts or impacts that could occur during transit.

Next up: removing detachable parts from your guitar to ensure safe travels!

Remove Detachable Parts

Now that we’ve loosened the strings, let’s move on to the next step: removing detachable parts. This is an important step because it reduces the risk of damage during transit.

Detachable parts include items such as guitar straps, capos, and tuners. These items can easily be removed and packed separately in your carry-on or checked luggage. In addition to reducing damage risks, removing detachable parts also makes your guitar more compact for travel.

It’s important to keep in mind that airlines have strict regulations regarding baggage size and weight. By removing these parts, you’ll make it easier to fit your guitar into a case that meets airline requirements.

As we continue with our guide on how to pack your guitar for air travel, the next step is securing the neck and headstock.

Secure the Neck and Headstock

To ensure the safety of your instrument during air transit, it’s imperative that you take the necessary steps to secure the neck and headstock.

First, loosen the strings by turning each tuning peg in a counterclockwise direction until they’re all similarly slack. This will alleviate pressure on your guitar’s neck and prevent warping or cracking while in flight.

Next, use a soft cloth or foam pad to wrap around the headstock and secure it with tape or an elastic band. This will protect against any potential damage caused by turbulence or rough handling during transport. Additionally, consider adding extra padding around the neck area within your guitar case for added security.

Now that you have securely fastened your guitar’s neck and headstock, it’s time to pack your case.

Pack Your Case

Let’s get your music buddy all snuggled up and ready to fly in its protective case. Packing the guitar case properly is essential to ensure that it arrives at your destination unscathed. Here are some tips for packing your guitar case:

  • Place a soft cloth or towel on the bottom of the case to provide extra cushioning.
  • Insert the guitar into its designated compartment, making sure it fits snugly.
  • Fill any empty spaces with bubble wrap or towels to prevent movement inside the case.

When choosing a travel case, it’s important to opt for one that provides adequate protection for your instrument. Hardshell cases are recommended, as they offer more security than soft bags. A good quality travel case will have a sturdy exterior and padding on the interior to protect against bumps and jolts during transit.

To further safeguard your guitar, consider investing in TSA-approved locks. These locks allow airport security personnel to inspect your luggage without damaging the lock or case. Additionally, you may want to purchase insurance for your instrument in case of damage during transport.

Labeling your guitar case is crucial so that it doesn’t get lost or mistakenly taken by another passenger. Use durable luggage tags with clear identification information including your name, contact details, and flight information. Attaching a brightly colored ribbon or strap can also make it easier to spot among other luggage.

As you pack your guitar safely away in its protective casing, remember that preparation is key when traveling with musical instruments. With these tips in mind, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your cherished companion will arrive at its final destination safe and sound. Now let’s move onto labeling our cases properly!

Label Your Case

When I travel with my guitar, one of the most important things I do is label my case. Adding identification tags and using fragile stickers not only helps me easily identify my guitar at baggage claim, but also alerts airport personnel to handle it with care.

Additionally, including contact information on the case can be helpful in case your guitar gets lost or misplaced during travel. Taking these simple steps can give you peace of mind while traveling with your precious instrument.

Add Identification Tags

Make sure you don’t forget to attach identification tags to your precious instrument before takeoff, so that it can be returned to you in case of any mishaps. I recommend using multiple identification tags with different contact information, just in case one gets lost or damaged.

You can use luggage tags and write your name, phone number, and email address on them. Additionally, you can print out a label specifically for your guitar case that includes your name, flight details, and contact information.

It’s also a good idea to include some sort of identifying feature on your guitar case itself. This could be a unique sticker or marking that sets it apart from other cases on the baggage carousel. Adding these extra layers of identification will give you peace of mind while traveling with your guitar.

Now let’s move on to the next step – using fragile stickers!

Use Fragile Stickers

Using fragile stickers on your luggage can be an effective way to reduce the chances of mishandling during transport. Studies show that packages marked as fragile are handled more carefully by airline staff, which means your guitar is less likely to suffer damage during transit.

It’s important to place these stickers prominently on your guitar case so that they’re visible and easily recognizable by airline personnel. In addition to using fragile stickers, it’s also a good idea to include contact information on your guitar case.

This will ensure that if your guitar does get lost or misplaced during transport, it can be easily returned to you. Including your name, phone number, and email address is a great way to make sure that you can be reached in the event of any issues with your instrument.

Include Contact Information

Now that you’ve marked your guitar with ‘fragile’ stickers, it’s time to make sure it’s easy to locate in case of mishandling.

One way to do this is by including your contact information on the exterior of the guitar case. I always tape a note with my name, phone number, and email address onto the top of my guitar case. This way, anyone who comes across it can easily reach out to me if needed.

Including your contact information not only makes it easier for airport staff to identify who owns the guitar, but also ensures that you can be contacted if there are any issues with its transportation.

Additionally, having your contact information on the outside may increase the chances of someone returning your luggage to you if it gets lost.

As you head towards check-in, remember that packing your guitar safely doesn’t end there. There are still a few more steps you need to take before boarding the plane with peace of mind.

Check-In Your Guitar

When checking in, you’ll want to ensure that your musical instrument is handled with care and arrives safely at your destination. One option is to check-in your guitar as oversized baggage. This means that it will be loaded into the cargo hold of the plane along with other large items, such as strollers and wheelchairs.

To prepare your guitar for check-in, make sure it’s in a hard case that fits its size and shape snugly. Use extra padding, such as bubble wrap or towels, to protect any fragile parts like the headstock or bridge. Add a luggage tag with your name, contact information, and flight details so that if the airline misplaces your guitar, they can easily track it down.

Once you arrive at the airport, take your guitar directly to the oversized baggage counter. You may need to pay an additional fee depending on the airline’s policies. Make sure to ask for a fragile sticker and watch as they load it onto the plane.

With these precautions taken care of, you can relax knowing that your guitar will be waiting for you when you land.

As much as we all love our guitars, sometimes we don’t want them too far out of reach during a long flight. In the next section, I’ll show you how to carry your guitar onboard so that it stays close by throughout your journey without causing any disruption or discomfort to yourself or other passengers.

Carry Your Guitar Onboard

Want to keep your beloved instrument close by during your flight without disturbing anyone? Learn how to carry it onboard with ease in this section.

Carrying your guitar onboard has its advantages, as you can ensure its safety and avoid any potential damage that may occur during the checked baggage process. However, it’s important to note that not all airlines allow musical instruments as a carry-on item, so be sure to check with your airline before heading to the airport.

When carrying your guitar onboard, the size and weight of the case matter. A hard-shell case is recommended for added protection, but make sure it fits within the airline’s carry-on size restrictions. You don’t want to be forced to check it at the gate because of an oversized case. Additionally, consider investing in a lightweight case or removing unnecessary items from your existing one to reduce its weight.

Once you’re on board, store your guitar in an overhead bin or ask a flight attendant if there’s space in a closet designated for crew use only. Be mindful of other passengers’ belongings and try not to take up too much space when stowing your guitar. Remember that even though you’ve carried it onboard doesn’t mean it won’t move around during turbulence, so always secure it properly inside the storage compartment.

Now that you know how to carry your guitar onboard like a pro, let’s dive into unpacking it once you arrive at your destination!

Unpack Your Guitar

Now that I’ve successfully carried my guitar onboard and arrived at my destination, it’s time to unpack and get ready to play!

The first thing I do is check for any damages or scratches that may have occurred during travel. Once everything looks good, I tune my guitar before playing to ensure the best possible sound.

With everything set up and ready to go, it’s time to enjoy my trip with some music!

Check for Damages

You don’t want to risk arriving at your destination only to find your beloved instrument damaged, so take a moment to carefully inspect it before heading to the airport. Here are some things you need to check for damages:

  • Check for scratches or cracks on the body of the guitar.
  • Look at the neck and headstock for any signs of damage or warping.
  • Check that all tuning pegs are working correctly and not loose.
  • Inspect the strings for any breaks or missing pieces.

If you do find any damages, it’s best to get them fixed before traveling with your guitar. This will ensure that your instrument is in top condition and won’t sustain further damage during transit.

Once you’ve checked everything over and made sure there are no issues, it’s time to move onto the next step: tune your guitar.

Remember, taking care of your instrument is crucial when traveling with a guitar on a plane. By following these steps, you can help ensure that your guitar arrives at its destination safe and sound.

Tune Your Guitar

It’s time to make sweet music, so grab an electronic tuner and get ready to tune that baby up! Before you pack your guitar for a flight, it’s essential to ensure that it’s in the best possible condition.

Tuning your guitar is one of the most crucial steps in preparing for air travel. The change in altitude and temperature can cause your guitar strings to either tighten or loosen, leading to tuning issues. To avoid this problem, use an electronic tuner to adjust each string accurately.

Take some time to play each note and make any necessary adjustments before packing up your instrument. With a properly tuned guitar, you’ll be able to enjoy playing music on your trip without any interruptions or frustrations.

So go ahead and get ready to rock out on the plane!

Enjoy Your Trip!

Time to kick back and enjoy your trip! You’ve done the hard work of packing your guitar for air travel, and now it’s time to relax and soak in the excitement of your upcoming adventure.

Here are a couple of ways you can fully enjoy your trip:

  • Explore new places: Whether you’re traveling for a gig or just for fun, make the most out of your destination by exploring all that it has to offer. Check out local museums, try new foods, and immerse yourself in the culture.

  • Connect with others: Traveling solo? Don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with fellow travelers or locals. You never know who you might meet or what opportunities may arise.

Remember, traveling is about embracing new experiences and creating memories that will last a lifetime. So go ahead, let loose, and have some fun!

But before we wrap this up, here’s one last tip – don’t forget to document your journey. Take plenty of photos and videos so that you can relive these special moments long after the trip is over. And who knows? Maybe someday you’ll even look back at these memories as the start of something big in your music career!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there any additional fees for bringing a guitar on a flight?

Bringing a guitar on a flight can be quite an exciting experience, especially if you’re planning to perform at your destination. However, it’s crucial to know whether there are any additional fees for bringing your musical instrument on board.

Airlines usually charge extra fees for oversized or heavy luggage, and this includes guitars. The amount of the fee varies depending on the airline, so it’s essential to check with your carrier before booking your flight.

Some airlines may even offer special rates or waivers for musicians traveling with their instruments, so don’t hesitate to ask about those options as well!

Can I bring multiple guitars on a flight?

When it comes to bringing multiple guitars on a flight, the answer is: it depends.

Some airlines allow passengers to bring more than one carry-on item, while others strictly enforce the one-carry-on rule. Additionally, some airlines may charge extra fees for each additional item brought on board.

It’s important to check with your specific airline before packing multiple guitars for air travel. If permitted, make sure to properly secure and protect each instrument during the flight to prevent any damage or mishaps.

What should I do if my guitar is damaged during the flight?

If your guitar is damaged during a flight, it’s important to act quickly and report the damage to the airline as soon as possible.

Did you know that according to the Department of Transportation, airlines mishandled over 3 million bags in 2019 alone? This statistic highlights the importance of being prepared and taking necessary precautions when traveling with your guitar.

When reporting the damage, be sure to provide detailed descriptions and photos of the damages. It’s also a good idea to have insurance for your guitar in case any irreparable damages occur.

Remember, staying proactive can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Can I store my guitar in the overhead compartment?

When it comes to storing your guitar on a plane, the overhead compartment may seem like a convenient option, but it’s not always the best choice. Depending on the size of your guitar and the available space in the compartment, it could get bumped around or even damaged by other passengers’ luggage.

Plus, if you’re flying on a smaller aircraft with limited overhead space, you might not be able to fit your guitar up there at all. It’s always best to check with the airline ahead of time and see if they have any specific guidelines for carrying musical instruments onboard.

In some cases, they may allow you to store your guitar in a closet or even purchase an extra seat for it. Whatever approach you choose, make sure to pack your instrument carefully and securely so that it stays protected throughout the flight.

Are there any restrictions on the size or type of guitar that can be brought on a flight?

As a musician who loves to travel, I always wonder if there are any restrictions on the size or type of guitar that can be brought on a flight.

It’s important to know because not all guitars are created equal, and some may require special handling during air travel.

After some research, I discovered that most airlines allow passengers to bring their guitars as carry-on items, but there may be size restrictions depending on the airline.

Additionally, some airlines may require specific cases for certain types of guitars, such as hard-shell cases for acoustic guitars.

As someone who values freedom in both music and travel, it’s reassuring to know that with a little preparation and knowledge of airline policies, I can take my guitar with me wherever my adventures take me.


In conclusion, traveling with your guitar doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By doing your research on airline policies and selecting the appropriate case, you can ensure that your guitar arrives safely at your destination. Remember to prepare and pack your guitar carefully, label your case clearly, and check-in or carry-on your instrument according to airline regulations.

According to a recent survey conducted by Sweetwater Music Instruments & Pro Audio, 66% of musicians have traveled with their instruments at some point in their careers. This statistic highlights just how common it is for musicians to travel with their guitars and underscores the importance of knowing how to do so properly.

With this ultimate guide in hand, you can confidently take your beloved instrument on all of your musical adventures without fear of damage or loss. Safe travels!

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