Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
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souldier
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Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by souldier » Wed Jan 11, 2017 6:42 pm

I'm flying from Chicago/O'Hare to California/LAX with my guitar in a Visesnut case in a few months to play at an event and was wondering if anyone has had any positive (or negative) experiences flying with a certain airline? I know these things can be inconsistent, but your experiences could still help me choose the right airline.

The most ideal scenario would be the option to carry the guitar onboard with me, though gate checking wouldn't be out of the question. Any tips would be appreciated.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

Tim W
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by Tim W » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:01 am

I've flown a lot on United, both domestically and internationally with my guitar. Usually, I have no problem carrying it, and often the flight attendants will be happy to put it in the 1st class or crew coat-locker. I try to get seated in the front, and will usually pay extra for United Economy Plus, since it boards first. I've got a smallish case, (Accord), and it usually will fit in an overhead bin. A Visesnut is a little bigger but should still fit. I've had no problems with Southwest, but haven't flown them as often. I don't worry much about gate-checking, especially if I can hand it off right at the plane and chat with the baggage guy to let them know that's my baby! I've never had any damage, but have never had to check it as regular baggage. I do have it fully insured, and much as I love my Ruck, I know that if it gets eaten or stolen that there are lots of great guitars in the world and it's always fun to shop!

Tim

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ragdoll serenade
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by ragdoll serenade » Thu Jan 12, 2017 3:50 am

I've had good luck with both United and American. Ask the attendant to put it in the coat closet if available.

igycrctl
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by igycrctl » Thu Jan 12, 2017 4:56 am

Will any airline allow you to purchase an extra seat for the guitar? Expensive, I know, but that might be the best way to guarantee its safety.

powderedtoastman
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by powderedtoastman » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:10 am

I recently carried a guitar in a hard case on a Southwest flight and it was super easy, nobody even said a word to me about it. I pay the 15 bucks for early bird check in to get a good place in line for boarding, but even if I hadn't done that I probably wouldn't have had any trouble finding space in an overhead bin.
Southwest's website even says about musical instruments, you could purchase an extra seat for your instrument (at child fare I think) if you really wanted to but I don't think it's necessary in most cases. I'm sure other airlines would do something similar.

kris barnett
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by kris barnett » Thu Jan 12, 2017 9:14 am

You may already know this, but all U.S. airlines must allow you to take a "guitar sized instrument or smaller" on board with you as long as there is space available in the cabin (overhead, closets, etc.). I travel a lot with my instruments and never had to check it. I simply print this page, underline the salient points, and bring it with me to the airport just in case there are any questions. A sure fire way to ensure there is space in the cabin is to simply get a seat in the rear of the plane (as they typically board first) or get priority boarding. On crowded flights I have even asked the people taking the tickets if I could board early as I need to be able to store my instrument on board. Never had any issues. Hope this is helpful.
https://www.transportation.gov/briefing ... el-musical

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souldier
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by souldier » Thu Jan 12, 2017 1:46 pm

Hi everyone, I highly appreciate the points that have been shared. This is exactly what I was looking for. Any additional airlines or tips are most welcome. Below I have summarized some key points that could also help future travellers and will update this post as more info. comes in.

Potential guitar friendly airlines:
United (perhaps they learned from their bad publicity)
Southwest
American

Tips:
· See options that will allow you to board first such as paying a fee for priority boarding, choosing seats at the back, or even talking to the people at the ticket counter asking if you could be seated early since you have an instrument.
· Small cases usually fit in overhead bins
· Or inquire to see if guitar can be stored in a coat locker
· If necessary, gate check right at the plane, handing the guitar directly to the baggage guy
· US Department of Transportation document about musical instruments should be printed with key points underlined. Document found here:
https://www.transportation.gov/briefing ... el-musical
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

robert e
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by robert e » Fri Jan 13, 2017 5:02 am

kris barnett wrote:You may already know this, but all U.S. airlines must allow you to take a "guitar sized instrument or smaller" on board with you as long as there is space available in the cabin (overhead, closets, etc.). I travel a lot with my instruments and never had to check it. I simply print this page, underline the salient points, and bring it with me to the airport just in case there are any questions.
https://www.transportation.gov/briefing ... el-musical
What a great tip! :merci:

Even better, I see that the last paragraph on that page has a URL leading to more tips and resources for flying with an instrument. http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-trav ... nstruments

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souldier
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by souldier » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:51 pm

Great find. This link also gives a chart summarizing the different instrument policies of several airlines: http://airlines.org/blog/instrument-rat ... musicians/
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

celestemcc
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by celestemcc » Mon Jan 16, 2017 11:29 pm

Avoid American Airlines! Especially if it's a short hop and the plane is small (eg, 737 with limited overhead space). Even when the rules were first initiated, flight crews wouldn't let me carry on in spite of my case being small enough and having purchased early boarding.
2015 Connor spruce/Indian rosewood
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souldier
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by souldier » Tue Jan 17, 2017 1:19 am

celestemcc wrote:Avoid American Airlines! Especially if it's a short hop and the plane is small (eg, 737 with limited overhead space). Even when the rules were first initiated, flight crews wouldn't let me carry on in spite of my case being small enough and having purchased early boarding.
Thanks for the heads up. I'll be especially mindful of the size of the aircraft being used.
"Success grants its rewards to a few, but is the dream of the multitudes.
Excellence is available to all, but is accepted only by a few." - Christopher Parkening

Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Tue Jan 17, 2017 9:39 pm

powderedtoastman wrote:I recently carried a guitar in a hard case on a Southwest flight and it was super easy, nobody even said a word to me about it. I pay the 15 bucks for early bird check in to get a good place in line for boarding, but even if I hadn't done that I probably wouldn't have had any trouble finding space in an overhead bin.
Southwest's website even says about musical instruments, you could purchase an extra seat for your instrument (at child fare I think) if you really wanted to but I don't think it's necessary in most cases. I'm sure other airlines would do something similar.
I can corroborate that Southwest is awesome with guitars! The first time I flew with my guitar, I wanted to check it in, but they almost laughed, and said to simply carry it on. So I have taken my standard carry-on sized luggage, plus guitar, many times. No hassles. Very accommodating staff.

You most certainly DO NOT want to check it with "normal" luggage. I literally witnessed, first hand, the luggage gorillas throwing instruments into the baggage trolleys - 10-15 feet! It may survive treatment like that, but why risk that ?!?!
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powderedtoastman
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by powderedtoastman » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:26 pm

The other good thing about Southwest, I believe that they use the same model of plane for their entire fleet, so once you're convinced it's going to fit in their overhead, you can be sure you're going to get the same next time. You might not do as well if you have to fly in a little puddle jumper.

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Sharon Vizcaino
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by Sharon Vizcaino » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:15 pm

I haven't had problems with Delta, and I fly internationally at least 3 times a year (between the US and Mexico). During my last flight, though, I had an extremely rude flight attendant who condescendingly said to me: "There's no way we're letting that in the plane, sweetheart, you'll have to gate check it" and put a pink tag on it. I took it off once she was out of sight and brought it in anyway. The other attendants didn't mind at all when I asked them. The flight attendant gave me the stink-eye once she realized I'd ignored her. I was oh-so-upset by it I couldn't sleep for weeks :roll:
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Andrew Pohlman
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Re: Guitar Friendly Airlines?

Post by Andrew Pohlman » Thu Jan 19, 2017 9:57 pm

powderedtoastman wrote:The other good thing about Southwest, I believe that they use the same model of plane for their entire fleet, so once you're convinced it's going to fit in their overhead, you can be sure you're going to get the same next time. You might not do as well if you have to fly in a little puddle jumper.
Good point. If we can talk about international airlines here, I flew Qantas and Virgin Australia - they both have tiny overhead bins that simply will no fit a guitar. Having said that, you check your guitar into "oversized" luggage, and they treated my instrument very, very well. Just be aware, Virgin only allows ONE MEASLY CHECKED BAG !!! I was okay because my son only had a carry on and I used his one checked bag allowance for my guitar.
2013 Rodriguez FF Sabicas blanco
2015 Trevor Gore custom Neoclassical
- redwood top, Palo dorado B+Ss.

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