Air Travel Page Title

Airline travel preparation.

Airline travel with a guitar is always an uneasy event.  Part of the problem is that airlines don’t have any clear or uniform policies and do not consistently enforce any policies they may have.  The rules vary by airport, airline, and amongst the employees of the airlines.  Therefore, when you arrive at the airport you don’t know what to expect.

Before contemplating travel with your guitar, make sure you have a strong, well-fitting flight case.  A good flight case is much sturdier than a typical wooden hard case.  The flight cases I offer are made by Calton Cases in Canada (see photos on right and below).  The Calton flight cases are made from multiple layers of fiberglass, are sealed to help prevent possible water damage, and fully support the guitar inside the case.  The Calton cases I provide are custom built for each guitar to guarantee a perfect fit.  While more expensive than wooden cases, flight cases are a worthy investment for a high-end guitar.

When packing your guitar in its case, loosen the strings to avoid unnecessary tension.  Remove any loose objects in the case that may rattle around during flight and potentially damage your guitar.  Also, support the headstock of your guitar with some soft padding to avoid a whiplash effect if the case is dropped.

Photo of Calton Cases.
Photo of well fitting case.
Airline travel checking options.

The only safe way to travel by air with a guitar is to carry it on.  A full-size guitar won't fit in an overhead bin, but will fit in one of the closets.  Explain your situation to a flight attendant and hope for the best.

If the airline does not allow you to carry on your guitar, the next best option is to gate check it. This at least avoids the baggage system, but increases the risk of damage.

The final option is to check your guitar as luggage.  This is not recommended, and you are completely at the mercy of the baggage handlers.  Airlines only accept limited financial responsibility if you guitar is lost or damaged, and they may ask you to sign a waiver releasing them from all responsibility!  You are better off shipping your guitar and insure it for damage or loss.