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How to Keep Your Instrument Safe While Flying

Traveling with your acoustic instrument can be nerve wracking. Once it is out of your sight, you have no control over how the baggage handlers treat your prized possession. The best you can do is research and take as many precautions as possible before you board the airplane. Here are four ways you can prepare to travel with your instrument and keep it safe.

Carry Your Case On

Since 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration rules require airlines to treat a musical instrument case as a carry-on, providing it fits in an overhead bin or other on-board storage area, subject to available space. Most acoustic stringed instrument gig bags and cases (not including cellos and double basses) will fit in an overhead compartment except on commuter flights or when other smaller planes are involved.

Best practice would be to research your airline’s policy regarding musical instruments, as some require hard cases. And be sure to arrive and board early to capture precious overhead and on-board storage space.

Check Your Case

If you prefer to check your instrument as you would normal luggage or are concerned the airline might prevent carrying on at the last minute, you can gate check your instrument. Checking your instrument at the gate means it will be hand loaded last and taken off the plane first, eliminating the potential for damage on conveyor belts. However, be sure your case is designed to give the level of protection your instrument may withstand in a cargo hold.

Choose a Travel-Friendly Instrument Case

Whether you are storing your instrument in an overhead bin or checking it at the gate, the storage case you choose is vital to its safety and your peace of mind. You can purchase reinforced gig bags, hardened cases and flight cases, all of which are designed to withstand a certain amount of rough treatment attributed to airport baggage handling. Learn more about how to choose the right case for you here.

Let Us Help You Keep Your Instrument Safe

Still have questions regarding traveling with your instrument? Need guidance purchasing the correct instrument case? Considering buying a travel instrument? Contact our helpful staff with all your traveling questions at 303.777.4786 or We’re happy to help.