How Do I Protect My Guitar On A Plane: All You Need To Know 

We’ve all heard the horror stories of guitars arriving with battle scars, dings, and even broken necks after air travel. Why do these happen? An average commercial airplane cabin is pressurized to about 8,000 feet above sea level. As the air pressure decreases, the internal pressure of your guitar can change, which leads to issues like string buzzing or even permanent damage. So, what can you do? Well, protecting your instrument during air travel is easy; if you are armed with the right knowledge and a few tricks up your sleeve. From choosing the right case to proper padding, let’s get to know everything about your query, ‘how do I protect my guitar on a plane.’ 

How Do I Protect My Guitar On A Plane? 

When it comes to protecting our guitar during air travel, it all starts with choosing the right guitar case and packing properly. So, below, I’m going to talk about these in detail. There are some other things that you can do except choosing the guitar case or packing it while air traveling. Let’s get to know them. 

Check Airline Policies  

Before booking the flight, check the airline’s policies regarding musical instruments. Some airlines allow you to carry the guitar as a cabin item, while others require it to be checked as baggage. If you’re allowed to bring it onboard, rejoice! Just make sure you comply with their size and weight restrictions. 

See Also: Airlines That Allow Guitar Carry-on

Get A TSA-Approved Lock  

Invest in a TSA-approved lock for your guitar case. These locks allow airport security to inspect your guitar case, if needed, without causing any damage. With a TSA-approved lock, the security officers have a special key or combination to open your lock. They can perform their inspection and then lock it back up securely. 


Explore Instrument-specific Insurance 

Traditional travel insurance may cover the general belongings but might not provide adequate coverage for your guitar. Look for specialized instrument insurance policies that cater specifically to musicians and their instruments. These policies often offer comprehensive coverage for damage, loss, theft, and accidents during transit. 

How To Pack Guitar For Air Travel? 

Choose the Right Case: 

First things first, invest in a sturdy and reliable hardshell case. The best thing you can do is to invest in a TSA-approved hardshell case to protect the guitar from the perils of travel. Look for a hardshell case made from materials like ABS plastic or fibreglass, which provides excellent protection against impacts and humidity changes.  

Choose the Right Case

Loosen The Strings: 

When preparing your guitar for airborne, give the tuning pegs a little twist to loosen the tension on the strings. Changes in temperature and air pressure during flights can wreak havoc on the guitar’s neck. Loosening the strings allows the neck some breathing room, reducing the risk of any unwanted warping or damage. 

Loosen The Strings

Pad It Up: 

Wrap your guitar in a soft cloth or bubble wrap to ensure maximum protection before placing it in the guitar case. These will act as an extra cushioning layer alongside the internal padding of the guitar case to shield your instrument from any bumps or jolts along the way. Pay extra attention to the vulnerable areas, such as the headstock and bridge. Adding extra padding around these areas will keep your guitar as snug as a bug in a rug. 

Label The Case ‘Fragile’: 

When it’s time to hand over the guitar to the airline staff, be sure to label the guitar case as “fragile.” While it may not guarantee gentle treatment, it certainly increases the chances of your guitar being handled more carefully.  

Fly with It If Possible: 

If possible, consider bringing the guitar as carry-on luggage. Yes, many airlines allow you to stow the guitar in the overhead bin or offer special storage compartments. Keeping the guitar close to you eliminates the risks associated with checked baggage—like mishandling or loss. 

Do Guitars Get Damaged On Planes? 

Yes, guitars can get damaged on planes. There are a number of reasons for this, including: 

  • The way airline baggage handlers handle guitars. Sometimes guitars are handled roughly by baggage handlers, who may not be careful enough to prevent damage. 
  • The conditions in the cargo hold. The cargo hold of an airplane can be a very harsh environment for a guitar. The temperature and humidity can fluctuate wildly, and there is a risk of damage from other luggage. 
  • The type of guitar case. Not all guitar cases are created equal. For instance, hardshell cases are better at protecting guitars from damage than gig bags. 

How Can I Protect My Guitar From Extreme Temperatures? 

Here are some tips on how to protect your guitar from extreme temperatures: 

1. Avoid leaving your guitar in direct sunlight or extreme heat. The heat can warp the neck and body of the guitar, and the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage the finish. 

2. Keep your guitar in its case. A robust hard case is best to provide the most protection from extreme temperatures and other hazards. If you only have a soft case, make sure to keep it in a cool, dry place when you are not playing the guitar. 

3. Use a humidifier in your home. A quality room humidifier for your guitar room will help keep the humidity level in the air at a healthy level to prevent the instruments from drying out. 

Use a humidifie

Final Words 

When it comes to safeguarding your precious six-string companion during air travel, preparation is the name of the game. Remember to properly follow all the tips and tricks of ‘how do I protect my guitar on a plane.’ One parting piece of advice, to avoid your guitar being scrutinized by X-ray machines, simply communicate with the security personnel in a calm and friendly manner. Request a manual inspection of the guitar instead of sending it through the X-ray machine, and trust me, most security personnel will comply. 

How Do I Protect My Guitar On A Plane: FAQ 

A. Can I carry my guitar as hand luggage?  

Yes, you can generally carry a guitar as hand luggage. Most airlines allow musical instruments. However, you need to follow the airline’s specific policy about the size and weight of your guitar. 

B. Are there any size restrictions for guitar cases? 

Guitar case size restrictions can vary depending on the airline and its specific policies. The typical range for carry-on dimensions is 22(L)X14(W)X9(H). However, these dimensions can vary among airlines. 

C. Do I need a specific type of case for international flights? 

Yes, you need a hard-shell case for international flights that meets the airline’s size and weight requirements. Opting for a sturdy flight case made of ABS plastic or fiberglass is the best choice for international flights. 

D. Should I remove the strings before flying with my guitar? 

You can remove the strings to protect the guitar and reduce the risk of any unwanted warping or damage. However, loosening the strings will suffice.  

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