Quick Tip - Taking Your Instrument with you on an Airplane


If you are planning to take your acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo or ukulele to a gig out of town or on vacation you may have some concerns about how the airlines will treat your prized possession. Since 2014 the Federal Aviation Administration rules require that airlines allow passengers to treat a musical instrument case as one of your carry-ons so long as it fits in the overhead bins or other on-board storage areas, subject to available space. Most acoustic stringed instrument gig bags and cases (not including cellos and double basses) will fit overhead except on commuter flights or where other smaller planes are involved. Checking with the airline to confirm policy and arriving early to capture overhead space are both good practices.

If you prefer to send your instrument through as you would luggage or you are concerned that the airline might prevent carrying on at the last minute, there are two good options. You can “gate check” which means the instrument will be hand loaded last and taken off first eliminating the potential for damage on conveyor belts or you can purchase hardened cases which are designed to withstand the rough treatment sometimes attributed to airport baggage handling.