Can You Check a Guitar on an Airplane? Tips for Safe and Smooth Guitar Travel

So, you’re a traveling musician, or maybe just a music enthusiast on the go. You’ve got a gig, a jam session, or perhaps just a quiet beach where you’d love to strum your guitar. But you’re faced with the daunting question, “Can I check my guitar on an airplane?”

Air travel with a guitar isn’t as straightforward as you might think. It’s a topic filled with as many chords and scales as the music you play. Let’s dive into the world of airlines, baggage policies, and how they relate to your prized possession. After all, the last thing you want is your guitar getting damaged in transit. So, let’s strike the right note and get you prepared for your next musical journey.

Key Takeaways

  • Different airlines have varying policies regarding the transportation of musical instruments, such as guitars. Some airlines may allow carrying guitars in the cabin, given sufficient overhead space, while others might require purchasing an additional seat for the instrument.
  • The safety of your guitar during air travel largely depends on the quality of the carrying case. A high-quality, shock-resistant hard case with reinforced edges is recommended.
  • Fluctuations in temperature and humidity during the flight can negatively impact your guitar. To protect it from potential damage, it is advised to de-string your guitar before flying.
  • Investing in instrument insurance can provide peace of mind when traveling with your guitar, particularly if your guitar is a high-end model.
  • Packing your guitar properly and securely within a robust, hard-shell case can significantly minimize the risk of damage during transit.
  • Loosening the strings and using a case humidifier can help maintain its optimal condition during the journey.
  • Documenting your guitar with photographs or written notes, and appropriately labeling the carrying case can help in easy identification and claim resolution in cases of misplacement.

ßTraveling with a guitar on an airplane poses questions about the best ways to ensure the instrument’s safety. Travis Raab’s tips for carrying on your guitar offer invaluable advice for musicians looking to keep their instruments close. For those contemplating checking their guitar, Quora discussions provide insights into the risks and precautions necessary for long-distance travel by air. Moreover, YouTube tutorials on safely bringing a guitar on an airplane address common concerns, offering visual guides to complement the advice found in forums and articles.

Things to Consider Before Checking Your Guitar

It’s challenging to be a traveler and a musician. But add a guitar to the mix, it escalates the complexity level. When it’s time to check in your guitar at the airport, several factors come into play. These involve airline policies, the carrying case, climate, and insurance. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Understanding Airline Policies

Different airlines have different policies regarding musical instruments. Understanding their guidelines is the first step you need to take. For instance, some airlines allow carrying guitars in the cabin if there’s sufficient space in the overhead bins. Others might demand you buy an extra seat for your beloved six-string. Therefore, it’s recommended to call the airline ahead of your flight to get detailed information.

Analyzing the Carrying Case

Of course, the protective casing plays a significant role. A high-quality hard case is your best bet. Look for ones that are shock-resistant and have reinforced edges. Additionally, ensure it’s a snug fit. This safeguards your guitar from any abrupt blows during the flight.

Considering the Climate

In most cases, your guitar will face varying climate conditions from your origin to your destination. Subsequently, these swift changes in temperature and humidity could affect your guitar. Therefore, remove your guitar’s strings before flying. This small action lessens tension on the neck, shielding your guitar from potential damage.

Insurance Matters

Finally, consider the insurance angle. Traveling with your guitar has its inherent risks. Losing it or getting it damaged could have devastating effects, particularly if it’s a high-end model. Hence, investing in instrument insurance is a small price to pay for peace of mind. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Knowing these aspects would better prepare you for your musical journey. Stay tuned for more tips on traveling with your guitar.

Airlines’ Policies on Musical Instruments

One of the first steps when preparing to travel with your guitar is understanding the airline’s musical instrument policy. Airlines have diverse policies concerning the transportation of musical instruments, including guitars. Some airlines are more musical-instrument-friendly than others. Therefore, knowing your carrier’s stance can go a long way in safeguarding your guitar.

First, all airlines are required by the FAA to allow small musical instruments like guitars in the cabin, provided they fit in the overhead compartment or underneath your seat. However, if the crew finds the instrument to be a safety concern, they may ask you to check it in as checked baggage. So, it’s best to check your airline’s specific policy and guidelines for carrying musical instruments on board before you fly.

Here are some tips to remember:

  • Dimension regulations are key. Guitars may violate some airlines’ size guidelines for carry-on items, potentially leading to charges or requirements to check the instrument.
  • Many airlines will allow purchase of an additional seat to accommodate large musical instruments.
  • Fee structures for checked musical instruments can vary widely.

An example of different airlines’ policies is shown in the table below:

AirlineCarry-on PolicyChecked Baggage Policy
Airline AGuitars allowed as carry-on if they fit in the overhead compartment or under the seatGuitars allowed, may charge extra fees if it exceeds standard checked baggage size/weight
Airline BGuitars allowed but must be in a hard caseGuitars as checked baggage allowed, standard baggage fees apply

To ensure peace of mind during your flight, make sure to understand the nuances of airline policies for musical instrument transport. This not only prepares you for your journey but also helps to protect your treasured guitar from potential damage or misplacement leading to a smoother, stress-free travel experience.

How to Pack Your Guitar for Check-in

When deciding to check in your guitar, knowing how to pack it can make all the difference. Proper packing not only ensures your guitar arrives safely at your destination, but it also complies with airlines’ baggage handling guidelines.

First thing’s first: Invest in a sturdy, hard-shell case. While it’s an upfront expense, it’s the best insurance against potential damage during transit. Make sure the case is designed for air travel and fits your guitar snugly. Remember, a loose guitar inside a case is just as vulnerable to damage.

Next on your list should be to secure the guitar within the case. This could be done by wrapping the guitar’s headstock with a soft cloth to protect it from shocks. Loosening the strings slightly can also help to reduce tension during the flight. You can use bubble wrap or foam to fill any empty spaces within the case, ensuring the guitar remains stationary during the flight.

It’s also suggested to remove any detachable parts of your guitar before packing. Items like straps, capos, or loose picks can bounce around in the case and potentially cause damage. Better to place these in a separate compartment or bag.

Label your case clearly. Include your name, phone number, and address – both home and where you’ll be staying if you’re traveling. This makes it easier for the airline to identify and manage your guitar case properly, especially in a rush.

Lastly, appraise and insure your guitar. If your instrument is expensive or has sentimental value, an appraisal and insurance can give you peace of mind while traveling. It’s one less thing to worry about as you navigate through busy airports.

At the end of the day, the goal is not only to get your guitar from point A to B. It’s to ensure that your beloved instrument arrives in the same shape you sent it off in. By giving some upfront time and attention to packing, you can confidently check in your guitar and enjoy your musical journey.

Precautions to Protect Your Guitar

When it comes to safeguarding your precious cargo, precautionary measures should never be overlooked. It’s essential to not only pack your guitar correctly but also take some additional steps to ensure its safety during the lengthy journey.

Loosen the strings before you begin your journey. The change in temperature and pressure, which is common in the cargo hold of an aircraft, could cause the strings to expand or contract, consequently snapping them or damaging your guitar’s neck. It’s a simple step, but one that’s often forgotten, yet could spare you from unnecessary repair costs upon arrival at your destination.

Besides, consider investing in a humidifier for the guitar case. Airplanes have extremely dry conditions that could potentially damage the wood of your guitar. A case humidifier maintains an optimal level of humidity, keeping your guitar in peak condition throughout the journey.

Security checks and handling can sometimes be rough. That’s why it’s recommended to pack some bubble wrap or clothing around the guitar within the case to cushion it from any unexpected shocks. It’s vitally important to ensure that your guitar doesn’t have room to move or shift around inside the case.

Remember to have documentation or photos of your guitar to identify it easily. In case your guitar gets misplaced, this makes it easier to file a claim and proves its condition before the flight, potentially saving you from any disputes regarding damages incurred during transportation.

With more and more musicians opting for air travel, airlines are now providing “fragile” stickers or tags to prioritize careful handling. However, these stickers don’t guarantee complete protection so you should still take all the mentioned precautionary measures.

Equipping yourself with these precautions can go a long way in ensuring that your guitar doesn’t hit a sour note upon your arrival. Keep in mind that the intention is neither to scare you nor dissuade you from traveling with your guitar by air, but to emphasize the importance of taking the necessary precautions for its safety. You’ve put effort and investment into your instrument and it would be heartbreaking for it to come to harm due to lack of sufficient care.

Tips for Smooth Travel with Your Guitar

Know Your Airline’s Instrument Policy

Every airline has its own guitar policy. Some may allow you to carry it on board as cabin baggage, while others may insist on it being checked in. Do your homework before you travel. Adhere to the policy to avoid nasty surprises at the airport. Websites of airlines usually provide comprehensive details regarding their musical instrument policy.

Use a Hard-Shell Case

By investing in a hard-shell case, you’ll step up the protection for your guitar. It’s more robust and durable than a soft case, making it perfect for air travel. It may cost a bit more, but it’s a small price to pay for safeguarding your treasured instrument.

Take Out Insurance

Just as you’d insure your valuable possessions at home, procure insurance for your guitar. Accidents can happen, and it’s best to be prepared. Insurance will cover you in the event of loss, damage, or theft.

Pack it Properly

By packing your guitar correctly, you reduce the risk of damage dramatically. Loosen the strings, as pressure changes can cause them to snap. Add padding in the form of bubble wrap or clothing to the case to absorb any shocks. Also, remember to use a case humidifier to prevent damage from dry airplane conditions.

Document Your Instrument

Finally, don’t forget to document your instrument. Take photographs of your guitar, including any distinctive marks or features, and keep a note of the serial number. This will make identification easier in case of misplacement.

You cannot ever totally eliminate the risk of damage to your guitar during air travel. But, by following these tips, you can significantly mitigate such risks and ensure smooth travel with your guitar. Keep in mind; your guitar is an investment. Treat it accordingly to keep it safe while traversing the skies.


So, you’ve got the lowdown on how to check a guitar on an airplane. Remember, understanding your airline’s instrument policy is key. Don’t skimp on a quality hard-shell case – it’s your guitar’s best friend during air travel. Insurance isn’t just a luxury, it’s a necessity when you’re transporting something as precious as your guitar. Proper packing techniques, like loosening strings and adding padding, are essential. And don’t forget to document your instrument with photos and serial numbers. While you can’t completely eliminate the risks, these steps can certainly minimize them. Here’s to a smoother, worry-free journey with your guitar!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some tips for flying with a guitar?

The article advises knowing your airline’s instrument policy, investing in a hard-shell case, buying insurance for your guitar, and packing it with precautions. Documenting your instrument with photos and serial numbers is also recommended.

How can I protect my guitar when flying?

Invest in a hard-shell case and pack it properly, loosening the strings and using padding to prevent harm during transit. It’s also wise to photograph your guitar and note down the serial number before you travel.

Should I insure my guitar for air travel?

Yes, insuring your guitar is recommended as it provides you with financial protection should any damage occur during the journey.

What is the purpose of documenting my instrument with photos and serial numbers?

This acts as a record of your guitar’s condition before travel, which can be helpful if you need to make an insurance claim.

Is it possible to completely eliminate the risk of damage to my guitar during air travel?

While these tips reduce the risk significantly, it’s impossible to entirely eliminate all risks. That’s why precautions like hard-shell cases, proper packing, and insurance are essential.