options for Bringing guitar on plane to Django June

anthon_74anthon_74 Marin county, CA✭✭✭✭ Alta Mira M 01
edited May 2012 in North America Posts: 561
Hey there friends,

I'm trying to decide last minute whether or not to go to Django in june, and I'm looking at all the ifs, ands, and what have you's....

So, it occurred to me that I can't bring my GJ guitar on the plane with me, but have to either check it OR what ???

I heard from someone once that you have to buy your guitar a seat on the plane to bring it on board. Is that true ?? I definitely can't afford that.

What have others done ? Do I just risk checking it ?? Do I wrap it in a blanket inside the case to keep it safer ??

What can one do ??



  • Michael BauerMichael Bauer Chicago, ILProdigy Selmers, Busatos and more…oh my!
    Posts: 1,002
    There are a bunch of posts on this topic, but my experiences have varied wildly. Unless you are flying a puddle jumper (where there isn't room), almost any medium to large commercial airplace has room in the overhead and/or the closet. I have talked my way into pre-boarding nearly every time, and that's because I explain that I am carrying an expensive instrument and want to see if I can closet it. Nearly all flight crews will go out of their way to help you find a place for it. The trick is the ground crews, who become bigger assholes the farther south you go. I hate to put it this way, but if the city you are boarding in usually votes Republican, you are much more likely to get a hassle from the ground crew (Atlanta and Dallas are the two worst.). Technically, they have no say...only the flight crew does, but try telling them that without getting arrested! Delta, especially in the South, is to be avoided at all costs. Up North, they are fine. Sometimes asking for a supervisor helps, and one supervisor for Delta in Cincinnati told me they usually check hard-shell cases, but let gig bags on the plane. Still, I try to avoid gig bags, because 1) if they make you check it, there's a good chance it will be damaged, and 2) there's always some amateur traveller who will try to force his overly large bag into the same overhead as your guitar, with sometimes fatal results.

    And oddly, the worst experience ever was United Airlines in Portland, Oregon, where you'd think they'd be cool about musicians. They made me take it on without the case, or check it. I gave them the case, went to a store in the airport, handed them $20 and asked for all the tape and bubble wrap they had. The flight crew was horrified, and bumped my wife and I up to first class, then put the guitar in their closet. I think we got a free extra flight out of that one as well...

    I have flown alot, and most times I get the thing on without a hassle, but I always pay attention to the type of plane I'll be on, and avoid changing planes in the south if possible.

    Better yet, do as I do, and drive.
    I've never been a guitar player, but I've played one on stage.
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    The regulations have been changed recently (see, such that the airlines are required to allow you to bring a musical instrument on board, provided it will fit in a storage area. This pretty much eliminates double basses and sousaphones, but a guitar should be OK, PROVIDED the plane has space for it. In the end, it will be up to the crew to decide, but this is a big improvement over the previous situation.

    The smaller the case, the more likely it is that you will be able to bring it on, but you would be well advised to bring a very sturdy one just in case you have to check the guitar. If checking it, most airlines have a special dropoff point for oversize and fragile items that supposedly bypasses the conveyor belt. Upon arrival at your destination, you would need to find out where to pick it up, because it should not come up with the regular baggage (although it might anyway).

    You'll want to loosen the strings, put some padding under the headstock and underneath where the heel of the neck meets the body, just in case it winds up being checked.

    The airlines have pretty much stopped allowing people to buy tickets for instruments, but with the new carry-on rules that should be less necessary.

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 656
    Hi guys,
    I have flown quite a bit with guitar recently . . . one point not talked about here- be very careful in security . . . this is a sensitive area for most airports. Make sure you take out your nail clipper, string clipper, pliers, extra strings can be a risk as well . . .and finally, make sure your case does not get jarred, thrown or rolled hard at this point in your travels. The TSA rolled my case (hard case) down the roller, whacked it into the lip at the edge of the roller . . . I put the guitar on the plane, flew and took it of- after I took it out the headstock had snapped. ARGH. Thankfully there was a great luthier who was able to repair it before the show.
    for sure loosen the strings and pad the headstock. . .
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    Ben - that wasn't your seven-string, was it?

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471
    I was just thinking of the extra string/pliers, etc., issue. After reading here and elsewhere, I think I'm going to gamble on a gig bag and carrying it on - even though the jet is a smaller plane - but of those who carry on, how do you deal with extra strings and paraphernalia - all of which could unfortunately be deemed "weapons" in today's climate?

    bbwood, that's quite a horror story, sorry that happened to you. It's unfortunate there doesn't seem to be an easy fix to this simple need, to bring one's instruments along on trips.

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 640
    Statistically speaking, rough baggage handling is always a bigger problem at large, busy, hub airports where activity on the ramp is noisy, dangerous and chaotic, regardless of region or politics. Baggage handlers are poorly paid, poorly treated, short term employees who get paid the same everywhere because their pay is set by a union contract - but they are also under an enormous amount of pressure. It's especially a problem in larger cities because the contracts for Delta, American, US, and SW are negotiated in the South where the cost of living isn't so high, and these contracts are predicated on the previous contracts going back many years. Plus all airlines have ongoing labor/management contract issues which often manifest themselves in baggage service. Our company has the most baggage problems in Philadelphia, one of our largest hubs. Delta has the most problems in Atlanta, their largest hub. You will rarely have a problem in a medium-sized city where flights are not usually booked to more than 80%, but at hubs flights are often booked to 105%. Since deregulation, prices have come way down but service has suffered for it. The flying public has decided that cheap tickets are the most important thing of all, and you simply can't have deluxe service and low fares at the same time. Of course, you can get the deluxe service by buying a first-class upgrade and you will not have a problem with your guitar, plus plenty of free booze.

    The flight crew does have the last word about who does or does not get on board, that's true, but believe me, gate agents can and often do deny boarding to drunk and overly aggressive passengers. Don't test them...

    Air travel is unpredictable. Basically, you are most likely to have problems (a) at large hub airports and (b) if you are traveling in the afternoon and early evening. Fewer passengers = fewer problems.

    Do not try to carry tools of any kind on board the aircraft, it will cause you lots of problems.

    Please pardon the rant - all the airlines try really hard to make their customers and the government happy, but this seems to be quite impossible.

    I have other info about flying posted elsewhere on this forum, it's easy to find.
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