It’s the eve of a life-changing gig. You’ve got the playlist set, bandmates ready, and the audience waiting. But before that, there’s a journey to embark on – flying with your guitar. You might be thinking, can you bring a guitar on a plane? Let’s tune into the answer.
Decoding the Air Guitar Rules
Yes, you can bring a guitar with you on a plane. In fact, it’s more than just being allowed; it’s your legal right! Thanks to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, section 403, musical instruments can accompany you on your sky-high adventure. And, yes – this means guitars too!
U.S. air carriers must comply with this act and allow instruments on their passenger flights, whether as carry-on baggage or checked baggage. Of course, conditions apply, and rules may vary based on different commercial airlines, so it’s always good to give the airline employees a call and check before boarding. Make sure your guitar complies with the applicable weight restrictions.
Navigating Through the Airwaves
Bringing Your Guitar As a Standard Carry-On
If your guitar feels like a compact travel companion, then you can bring it as a carry-on without any fuss.
The crucial point here is size. The guitar should fit comfortably into the overhead bin. Check the airline’s overhead bins’ dimensions before you board to avoid any unexpected discord with the flight attendants. You could also ask the flight attendant if you can board early so you don’t disrupt other passengers when you’re trying to fit your guitar in the luggage compartment above.
It might also be worth checking to see if the airline you’re traveling with has any other storage space options, such as a coat closet or a storage closet.
Securing a Separate Seat for Your Guitar
Your guitar might feel like an extension of you. It’s large, holds sentimental value, or is simply too expensive to be left to the mercy of the baggage handlers. And while overheard storage might be great for small instruments, it might not offer the space you need.
In such cases, buying a separate ticket for it is a great idea. Think of it as your guitar going VIP!
An extra ticket will ensure your guitar sits snugly next to you, safely secured. It’s akin to buying a ticket for a person. Just remember, while your guitar enjoys this privilege, other passengers and flight attendants might raise eyebrows, so ensure it doesn’t obstruct pathways.
The Protective Shield: Guitar Case
Whether it’s a carry-on or a checked-in item, a case is non-negotiable. While a gig bag or carry-on bag might seem lighter and easier, it doesn’t offer as much protection as a hard-shell case. If you only have a soft case, use padding materials like t-shirts inside the case to keep the guitar stable when it’s in the cargo hold.
If you’re carrying your guitar, make sure you’re still able to open your case, just in case you’re asking to at airport security.
Choose Nonstop Flights
Choosing a nonstop flight will reduce the chances of lost baggage nightmares. The probability of your guitar going astray increases with every stopover.
After the flight touches down, and you’re reunited with your guitar at the conveyor belt or the jet bridge, don’t just rush out. Assess your gear. Open your guitar case immediately to check if everything’s in tune. If there’s any damage or missing parts, report it then and there. It’s essential to make any claims before leaving the airport.
Here’s a guide to inspecting your guitar for any potential issues:
Exterior Examination: Before you even open the case, inspect it for any visible damage. If the case looks worse for wear, it’s an early indication that you need to inspect the guitar carefully.
Headstock: This is a vulnerable area, especially if the guitar has been subjected to any hard knocks. Check for cracks, especially near the tuning pegs.
Neck and Action: Run your fingers along the neck to feel for any warping or irregularities. Observe the action (distance between strings and fretboard). If it seems unusually high or low, the neck may have shifted.
Body: Check for cracks, dents, or any other signs of impact. Pay particular attention to the areas where the body meets the neck and around the bridge.
Electronics: If your guitar is electric or electro-acoustic, plug it into an amp and test all the knobs and switches to ensure they’re working correctly.
Strings: Strings might become loose or overly tightened during transit. Check for any obvious signs of string damage.
Bridge and Saddle: Ensure they’re firmly in place and not lifted or shifted.
Internal Examination: For acoustic guitars, use a flashlight to inspect the guitar’s interior through the sound hole. Look for any loose braces or signs of cracking.
Insurance for Your Guitar
There’s no denying the deep bond a musician shares with their instrument. For many, their guitar isn’t just a piece of wood and metal but a companion with memories etched into every scratch and ding. Given the unforeseeable nature of travel, safeguarding this companion with insurance becomes paramount.
Why You Need It: Navigating the Unpredictable Skies and Roads
Imagine this: You’re eagerly waiting at the baggage claim, eager to lay your hands on your precious guitar. As the conveyor belt turns, you spot your guitar case, but there’s a crack in it. Your heart sinks, and a plethora of emotions take over.
These situations can and do happen. Luggage mishandling, flight turbulence, accidental drops, or even theft can all contribute to guitar damage. While an insurance policy can’t replace the sentimental value of broken musical instruments, it can ensure that the financial blow is cushioned. It provides peace of mind – you’ll know that if the unexpected occurs, you’re covered.
Valuation: Determining the Worth of Your Six Strings
When insuring your guitar, one of the first things insurers will want to know is its value. Here’s how it’s typically determined:
Receipts and Original Documentation: The most straightforward way to determine the guitar’s value is through purchase receipts, especially if you’ve bought it recently.
Professional Appraisal: For vintage or custom-made guitars, we recommend getting a professional appraisal. Experts will evaluate the instrument based on its age, rarity, condition, and other factors to provide a market value.
Depreciation: Just like other assets, guitars can depreciate over time. However, some rare models or brands might even appreciate. It’s essential to periodically reassess your guitar’s value, especially if it’s not a new instrument.
Additional Gear: Don’t forget about amps, pedals, and other equipment. If they’re also part of your travel gear, consider including them in the coverage.
Claim Process: Charting the Path Post-Damage
Discovering that your guitar has been damaged during travel is distressing, but it’s crucial to stay calm and take specific steps to ensure your insurance claim is successful.
Immediate Documentation: Before leaving the airport or travel location, document everything. Take clear photos of the damage from multiple angles. If the damage occurred during a flight, get a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) from the airline.
Notify Your Insurer: Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and inform them about the incident. They will guide you on the next steps and provide information on the documents you’ll need to submit.
Repair Estimates: Most insurance companies will require an estimate of the repair costs. Visit a trusted luthier or guitar technician to get a detailed assessment of the damage and the associated repair costs.
Keep All Documents: Store all related documents, like boarding passes, baggage tags, communication with the airline or travel agency, and any other relevant paperwork. These can be crucial when filing your claim.
Be Patient But Persistent: Insurance claims can sometimes be a lengthy process. Stay patient, but be persistent in following up with your provider. Ensure all communications are clear and documented.
Picking the Right Guitar for Travel
As musicians, we often find ourselves facing the challenge of taking our beloved instruments on our journeys. While the prospect of serenading a sunset on a foreign beach is undeniably appealing, the journey to get there can be filled with challenges. Guitars can prove tricky to travel with. But fear not fellow strummers! The solution might just lie in picking the right guitar for travel.
Travel Guitars: Travel-friendly Companions
Gone are the days when musicians had to compromise on sound quality for the sake of portability. The modern market boasts a wide range of travel guitars that are designed to provide the best of both worlds.
Travel guitars are typically compact, with a shorter scale length, and are built to be robust. They offer the same functionality as a full-sized guitar but in a size that’s more manageable for transit. Brands like Taylor, Martin, and Traveler Guitar specialize in creating instruments that don’t skimp on sound quality despite their reduced size.
Some travel guitars even come with detachable necks, allowing them to fit snugly into a small suitcase or backpack. This design can be a game-changer, especially when the overhead compartment is running out of space.
Durable Materials: Built to Last
The secret behind a good travel guitar’s resilience often lies in its materials. Traditional guitars, made of delicate woods, can be susceptible to damage from changes in temperature, humidity, and the occasional bump or knock.
However, travel guitars often utilize alternative materials that can withstand the rigors of travel. Composites, laminates, and even certain durable types of wood like mahogany are commonly used. These materials resist warping and cracking, ensuring your instrument remains unscathed even after a long-haul flight.
Furthermore, many travel guitars come equipped with a robust protective gig bag or guitar case made from reinforced materials. These are tailored to the guitar’s unique size and shape, offering snug protection against potential threats.
Setting Up After Landing: Ready, Set, Strum!
After surviving the journey, ensuring your guitar is in prime condition to play is the next step. Here’s how to make sure.
Tuning: Changes in pressure and temperature can often lead to detuning. Always carry a portable tuner or a tuning app on your phone to get those strings pitch-perfect.
Neck Check: Ensure the neck hasn’t shifted during transit. If you feel any difference in the action (distance between the strings and the fretboard), you might need to adjust the truss rod. If you’re unfamiliar with this, it’s best to consult a local guitar technician.
Strings: If your strings sound dull or feel rough, it’s a sign they’ve lived through their prime. Always pack extra strings when traveling so you’re ready for a quick change if need be.
Humidity: Use a guitar humidifier to maintain the wood’s optimal moisture level. This prevents the wood from drying out or absorbing too much moisture.
Lastly, give your guitar some time to acclimate. If you’ve just landed in a tropical paradise from a snowy hometown, let your instrument rest for a few hours before playing guitar. This allows the materials to adjust, ensuring longevity and top-notch sound quality.
Taking your guitar on a plane isn’t just about knowing if you can, but also understanding how best to do it. With a combination of your rights and responsible behavior, both you and your guitar can have a harmonious journey.