How To Carry A Guitar In An International Flight

Musicians treasure their instruments, and some are worth a fortune. But how can you carry your treasured guitar on an international flight without inconveniencing fellow passengers? We fished around for answers and found valuable information from seasoned travelers.

You could place the guitar in a cut-out foam or reinforced steel case. Airlines are accommodating and will allow passengers to take large musical instruments in the cabin. Adequately packaging your guitar or any other instrument protects it during trips.

Are there any extra costs involved? Can any other bag do? Read on if these questions are boggling your mind as you plan your trip. Let's rock!

Blue suitcase with a guitar on the airport terminal - How To Carry A Guitar In An International Flight

Carrying A Guitar In An International Flight

As a passenger and music lover, you might be traumatized to see a musical instrument damaged in transit. Therefore, you will need extra care when traveling with your stringed companion.

A man sits on a bech at Arlanda airport with a guitar case and a suitcase.

Frequent travelers have found creative ways to get to the next gig with their instruments in one piece. Here is how they do it:

DIY Guitar Case

Always transport your guitar with cut-out foam. You can buy hard shell cases with a framework for your guitar. It could get banged around when not adequately secured in the hard case.

To save it, place it in foam cut out in the shape of the guitar before placing it in the hard case. You'll be sure to hit the right note in your next performance.

Get An Extra Seat

Most airlines allow passengers to purchase seats for large musical instruments such as guitars, cellos, and even violins. Buying a seat next to you for your 'oversized passenger' might require you to call the airline directly. This way, you'll be sure to get the seat next to yours.

Request Air Crew Cabin For Help

You might ask the cabin crew to be kind enough to place the guitar in their seating area. The cabin crew always has a spacious seating area with no overhead bins.

However, it will depend on the size of the plane in question and their willingness to accommodate your request.

ANA ground staff packing a guitar to check in at Haneda (HND) Airport as a traveler was not allowed to carry it on to the domestic flight.

Purchase A Cheaper Guitar

If you weigh the options and see that your favorite expensive guitar might be damaged in transit, purchase a cheaper one for travel.

Throwing a $3,000 acoustic instrument into the cargo hold might give you a nervous breakdown. Opt for a cheaper but good-quality guitar that will give you peace of mind when traveling.

Click the link to see this guitar on Amazon.

Guitar Makers Recommendations

Before you take that trip, you could call the manufacturers of your guitar to find out what they recommend doing when traveling with it. They often ask travelers to loosen the guitar strings and add extra padding to the hard shell case. It ensures that the strings or the headstock don't snap.

Ask Lady Luck To Accompany You

When the worst comes to worst, and you have no other option, you can place your guitar in the overhead cabin (if space is available). You could also check it in the cargo log and pray to the heavens that the cargo handlers are merciful.

Avoid arguing with staff on who or what is right. To avoid this scenario, plan your trip and check your budget to see what travel experience you want going down memory lane.

How To Purchase An Extra Seat For A Guitar

If you can't bear to part with your muse and inspiration, buying a seat on the flight next to you is the best solution. To be sure you have a seat next to you, you should do this in a split second after you purchase yours.

Alternatively, you can call the airline directly to avoid any mishaps. Most airlines require you to buy the extra seat for the same price in the same category.

If you also have a pet and would like it to accompany you on board, read this post: Does My Dog Count As A Carry On?

Can You Take Your Guitar For Free On The Plane?

Passengers are allowed one musical instrument on the plane, whether in the cabin or cargo hold. Ask the airline you are using because you might be required to pay a fee. International flights require large items in the cargo log rather than in the cabin.

Travel concept with a large suitcase and other accessories

Types Of Guitar Cases

Exposing your guitar to the elements is not ideal. Moreso, you can place it in a bag or case to avoid any awkwardness when traveling with your guitar. There are three categories of cases or pouches for guitars: hybrid, soft shell, and hard shell cases.

Under these three categories, there is a lot of variety for buyers. Some soft shell bags, aka 'gig bags,' have enormous pockets for music notes and other accessories.

Here's a guitar case with adjustable straps on Amazon.

Can You Ship Your Guitar?

Yes, you can ship a guitar! That is what large bands do. However, they send not just one but lots of equipment. But this doesn't make them immune to damage when handled at airports and baggage areas.

It would be best if you packed your guitar correctly before shipping it. Apart from the hard shell case, you'll also need a box.

Watch this video to see where to put the additional padding and where to check out for impact.

What Is A Guitar Shipping System?

The guitar shipping system is a revolutionary way of transporting all guitars. These inflatables keep the headstock and the base in place when dropped or handled roughly during shipping.

The innovative packaging allows you to ship cheaper or shell guitars without their bags. Unlike bubble wraps, they are less messy and stay inflated for a long time.

Have a look at these heavy-duty shipping boxes on Amazon.

You can also read this post for a better understanding. Can My Luggage Travel Without Me?

Companies That Can Ship Your Guitar Overseas

Close up of FedEx sign on the building in Toronto. FedEx Corporation is an American multinational courier delivery services company

Shipping giants like FedEx, UPS, and USPS can ship your guitar overseas without charging their clients for overweight. But, you'll be required to pay extra fees for fragile items such as musical instruments.

It would help if you acquired shipping insurance for damages, loss, or theft of your guitar. Moreso, before you call the couriers to ship your guitar, ensure that you:

  • Look for the most affordable courier
  • Calculate the cost of shipment
  • Pack the guitar accordingly.

Do You Have To Insure Your Guitar?

Your guitar is your work tool and the means of your livelihood. The Federal Musical Instrument Aviation Policy has laid down rules to help protect musicians flying with their instruments without intimidating the airlines.

Whether you are a professional musician or hobbyist, it's wise to insure expensive or rare guitars. Purchase a separate musical instrument coverage, especially if the homeowner's or renter's coverage won't cover the instrument's total value. Additionally, you might need an endorsement of the coverage for more expensive guitars.

How Much Does It Cost To Insure A Guitar?

The cost of insuring a guitar will depend on which you want to insure it. There are several categories, and insurance costs range from $300 to $500 per year. Find out from the insurance company of your choice if your instrument is eligible for a discount if you come in a group.

Winding Up

You can carry your guitar on international flights for your gigs away from home using the suggestions offered in this post. Avoid last-minute decisions and save your stringed pal from meeting an untimely end.

Ensure your guitar is insured and properly packaged before you take it on the plane or check it in. If it's a last-minute decision to take your musical instrument on board, be prepared to pay a fee. Be friendly to the airline crew, and they will reciprocate.

For more organized travel, read some more:

Is International Carry On Smaller Than Domestic?