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March 30, 2010 6:52 AM   Subscribe

Flying With a Guitar?

By brother wants his D-18 back (a late 60's one). I am flying Horizon Air later this month to LA on a Q-400, apparently not changing planes, and I am wondering the safest way to take the guitar along (it's got a very sturdy case).

Should I check my roll-along luggage and carry it on (it would be gate-checked most likely) or is it safe to check it and have it marked "fragile?"

It's been literally decades since I have taken a guitar on an airplane. Any advice/help/anecdotal information is welcome.
posted by Danf to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
Don't fly United. Seriously, though, I wouldn't risk it with any airline, marked fragile or not; if you can carry it on, do so. Though the TSA suggests you call the airline first to see if you will be allowed to bring it on the plane which may be questionable given the size of the plane. Talk to the airline and see what they suggest.

Safe travels!
posted by Imhotep is Invisible at 7:02 AM on March 30, 2010

Call the airline and ask them. However, many professional musicians recommend buying a second seat for your instrument so that it can ride in the cabin with you and not be out of your possession.
posted by decathecting at 7:07 AM on March 30, 2010

Just send it via UPS or FedEx. It will cost about the same as a checked bag, and their handling procedures are vastly superior.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:17 AM on March 30, 2010

I second buying it a seat. Never let it out of your sight, never entrust it to someone else - I didn't with mine... (Plus, you feel like a rock star when you board with a guitar, even if you're not! :-) )
posted by benzo8 at 8:43 AM on March 30, 2010

A word of warning of trying to carry on your guitar: Every flight I've been on in the last couple of months has had its overhead storage fill up with less than half the people boarded. This has forced them to check baggage (albeit for free at this point).
posted by jmd82 at 9:02 AM on March 30, 2010

I'm sure you'll find it in one of the previous threads, but remember to loosen the chords if you are going to check the guitar: Differences in the rate of thermal expansion/contraction at cargo hold temperatures can mess with the neck, it's the only damage my brother suffered when shipping his guitar across Europe.
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:09 AM on March 30, 2010

Hah, loosen the strings, not the chords - my brain is working in another language!
posted by Dr Dracator at 9:10 AM on March 30, 2010

@Imhotep: I know you were joking, but actually at this point I think United would the absolute 100% safest airline for guitars. Heck, I carried a large violin case on United a while back, and the purser put it with the crew luggage in the front of the cabin, just so "I wouldn't make a YouTube video."

(Of course, the viral effect may have worn off by now...)
posted by sesquipedalian at 12:09 PM on March 30, 2010

Response by poster: I called the Alaska/Horizon corporate office in charge of baggage, and they told me that the best case scenario would be to gate check it, but then it would be tossed in with all the other luggage. They discouraged it.

So I finally got ahold of the local Horizon baggage people, and they said, no problem, if it's one of two carry-on items, they would just stow it in the cabin somewhere.

The only downside will be to check my wheeled luggage, but that is not a horrible downside.

Thank you everyone for commenting.
posted by Danf at 2:58 PM on March 30, 2010

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