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Re: Carrying instruments on airplanes - this is cool and very relevant!

I've shipped a lot of guitars and I don't know how much worse airline guys will treat them compared to UPS.  I do know my Ibanez Jem was literally thrown on a baggage cart once--my ride to the airport saw it.  I do know what will make a guitar break--if it is not packed snugly and immobilized in a hard case. (headstock/neck are prime candidates, especially if there is an angled headstock). Perhaps packing well and pretending like the guitar is being shipped(with peanuts around the case) and in a box might be an improvement if that is possible.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 2:50 AM
Subject: Re: Carrying instruments on airplanes - this is cool and very relevant!

Thanks Richard!  Posted on my FB page.

Sent: Saturday, September 25, 2010 3:48 AM
Subject: Carrying instruments on airplanes - this is cool and very relevant!

I'm forwarding this.  It's important!  I don't think you have to be a union member to vote.

Dear Musician,

If you travel on airplanes, you know the hassle of bringing an instrument. Some airlines are fine with you bringing an instrument, some aren't. Some will accommodate you on alternate Tuesdays following Ground Hog's day providing you're wearing their secret decoder ring, and some will accommodate you if the flight attendant is in a good mood. And some airlines that weren't a problem last month will demand you check your guitar the next time you fly.

There's also the gig bag/hardshell case issue. If your guitar's in a gig bag, airlines are more likely to let you put it in the overhead compartment. But if they refuse to do that and you have to check it, don't expect your axe to be in one piece when you get off the plane. You can check the hardshell case, but bringing your guitar in a hardshell case probably eliminates any chance of storing it in the overhead—if the airlines indeed allow that.

Well, help may be on the way. The American Federation of Musicians has taken up the cause of musicians who fly to gigs, and Congress is debating a bill that would specify consistent guidelines for carry-on instruments. According to the AFM: "If this bill passes, musicians will be able to carry most musical instruments onboard and place them in the overhead compartment or in a seat (if a ticket is purchased)." This is your chance to make your voice heard. Here's a link for signing the petition:


Until this (hopefully) becomes law, call ahead to the airline and ask for their policy regarding carrying instruments on planes. If possible, get this emailed or faxed to you so you have written backup should a flight attendant balk. If the airline can guarantee that using a gig bag will let you place it in the overhead, fine. Otherwise, you might need to pursue the hardshell case/checked baggage route. But, note that the case that came with your guitar might not be the best possible option. Case companies like SKB make guitar cases that look like they could survive a small thermonuclear explosion, and while they're not cheap, they're cheaper than replacing a vintage guitar.

Sign the petition!