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Guitar on a plane


Double Platinum Member
Yes, but don't count on it 100%. A friend of mine who flys to gigs says about 90% of the time he can carry on, but they do occasionally (especially on international flights) make him gate check it over much protest.
I`ve only traveled with an instrument a few times with no problem If you ask nicely, they will put it up front with the Capatin in the cockpit. If needed, I would buy it a ticket. I would not trust any of the guitars I would need to travel with to the baggage handlers.

dewey decibel

1) Check to see what kind of plane you're flying on. Most Boeings will take a guitar in the overhead. Some Airbuses won't. (try a google search)

2) Request a seat in the back of the plane. The people at the back of the plane load first, so you get an empty bin, and you're happily in your seat with your guitar stowed when almost everyone is still in line. Once you're in your seat, you're golden.

3)When you check in, make a note of someone's name and make some casual conversation about the guitar. Get to the gate early, be toward the front of the line at boarding time. When it's time to board, sling the guitar on the opposite shoulder from the gate agent (whack them with the case and it's as good as checked) and walk on as if you've done it 1000 times.

If they question you, show them the TSA letter (google it) and say very nicely that "Amber" or "Jason" at the counter said it would be fine to carry it on board. Be nice. Beg if need be. If you give them attitude you could find yourself in handcuffs. Really.
I've carried a drednought in a bright orange Calton case on board and never had a problem (It fits in the overhead, too)

All that said, be prepared for the possibility that you might have to gate check the guitar. In short, I'd bring my Squier 51 in a gig bag, but not my good tele.
One other trick. If you've got a Fender, you could unbolt the neck and then it would fit under the seat in a gig bag. Remember, of course, that you probably can't get a screwdriver through security, so make sure you've got a dime or a key to do the deed.


I've flown with my guitar maybe 30 times this past year and this is this best advice. So far I've been lucky, but a couple things to remember in any situation like this- don't give anyone the opportunity to say no. What that means is you maybe tempted to ask the desk agent, ramp agent, stewardess, etc, but if you do that's just giving another person the opportunity to say no to you. All that matters is;
a) will it technically fit in the overhead bin
b) that in case of a full flight you get in the plane early to make sure you have room in the bin
c) you don't give the stewardess the opportunity to tell you you can't take it on board

I've seen people take all kinds of things onboard. For instance, you're only allowed 2 carry ons- I've seen people take 4. I've taken 3 myself. You just walk through like you know what you're doing and don't give them any reason to notice or stop you.

Sometimes planes have a coat closet, often in the front of the plane or first class area. Sometimes it's good to ask them to store it there, but I realized that's just another opportunity for them to say, "No, you're not allowed to bring that aboard at all." And I tend to feel better about it in the overhead- after you put your axe in the closet who knows what somebody's trying to stuff in there after you. At least with the overhead it's near you and you can keep an eye out for it.

Also, Delta has the worst reputation for not letting musicians carry on their gear. We've avoided flying Delta for this reason, but a couple weeks ago a flight got cancelled and they routed us through Delta. I was nervous but I didn't have any trouble.

Dont worry about active guitars, but do check fx pedals whenever possible. They get the TSA people worried. :eek::confused::mad:
Besides my guitar I also carry on a bag with my POD XTL, a tuner, DI, etc in the bag as well. When going through security just treat it however they tell you to treat a laptop. I've never had any trouble and I've had to go through the intense screening- the puffer.

Suriel Zayas

Silver Supporting Member
Delta would not let us carry our 3 guitars and one bass on a couple of years ago on a direct morning flight from Orlando to Memphis. I had brought my Suhr tele in a gig bag so that if would fit in the overhead. Had to check it. They broke the pick-up selector tip off. I considered myself lucky.
same horror story with delta, travelling with 2 andersons in a double electric gigbag and i was forced to check them in. don't fly delta anymore!

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