How To Carry Musical Instruments In Flight
As we all know, flying can be expensive! There are always fees for checked bags, overweight luggage, extra baggage, etc. The most expensive part of traveling by air is probably paying for additional entertainment supplies like headphones or earbuds, music devices, and/or smart phones you’re willing to let go of.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to carry-on musical instruments that do not require too much effort or investment. Here are our top 5 tips for how to pack your instrument in a way that is guaranteed to fit into the airline limited space and equipment storage guidelines.
Use a soft case
For all of you musician types, this article will talk about how to pack your instrument in flight. Because most airline rules require that you check your bag, it is important to know where to put your instrument before heading home!
The first thing we should discuss are cases. A music case or “soft case” is one of the best ways to pack your instrument. These are not hard plastic cases like those that hold phones, but rather cloth bags with wheels attached that close up into a backpack-like shape.
These cases usually have small openings at the top and/or side for quick access to your instrument. This helps if you need to take out your instrument quickly since you can easily do so without having to pull it fully out.
However, they cannot be opened completely due to the size of the internal components. So, when you get into airport security or luggage claim, you can just grab your case and go!
Soft Cases also cost less than hard suitcase counterparts, making them more affordable if you are ever traveling with yours.
Make sure the case is sealed well
When your musical instrument becomes loose or broken, you will want to know how to pack it up before you go anywhere! While some cases can be packed closed, most need to have at least an open slot or sleeve for access to the device.
For example, if your guitar needs air to work properly, then its neck should protrude slightly from the top of the case so that it can breathe. For strings that are too tight, there must be enough space to pull them out easily without getting stuck.
If possible, leave behind any protective covers or dust bags you might have attached to the piece already. You don’t want these getting caught in the packing process or ruining the equipment later on.
When everything is ready, seal the case as tightly as possible. If needed, use tape or glue to make sure nothing gets lost.
Connect the case to the seat belt
While most airlines allow you to check your bag before takeoff, they usually require you to unpack it there. This is not always easy, as many flight attendants will tell you!
As such, these cases often have latching mechanisms that can be difficult to use.
Fortunately, there are some great strap attachments for this. You can connect them to the aircraft’s lap belts or overhead luggage racks, and then pull them through the slot at the top of the case.
This makes it much easier to put the case away after use since you don’t need to reconnect all the latches. It also helps prevent the case from being pulled off the seat when someone sits down next to you.
Carry the instrument with you
Most people do not realize how expensive buying an airline ticket is! The price includes all of the fees, such as airport transportation costs, baggage check-out, flight tickets, etc.
Many music students cannot afford their trip because they are spending money on the cost of traveling and purchasing musical instruments. Some must even pay to ship their instrument back home due to weight restrictions.
Instead of paying for these things, carry your instrument with you. This will save you money!
You can either buy an inexpensive case that holds your instrument or make one yourself using plastic wrap and boxes. There are many ways to pack and organize your equipment so it does not get stuck together.
Make sure it is packed properly
It is very important to pack your instrument correctly! This includes not overpacking the case, ensuring that there are no holes or gaps where air can escape, and making sure none of the parts get stuck together.
Many people start off packing their instruments lightly at first, but this can be problematic later when you need to unpack. Since most cases have small openings or zipper pockets, if you add too much material then you may have to dig through all the contents looking for one of the pieces.
This could cause damage to the item or having to buy a new one because they were lost during transportation. Cases with large zippers usually have special equipment bags attached so make sure you pull those out completely to avoid any constriction.
Check the airline's baggage policy
Most major airlines allow you to check your bag before boarding, but what size suitcase you can check and how much extra weight it can hold is very subjective depending on the carrier!
Some carriers will limit you to one checked bag that must fit under the passenger’s seat, whereas others don’t have this restriction. Some only let you check a small carry-on sized item such as a backpack or purse, while others offer more elaborate options.
The most common way to check an instrument case is by purchasing special padded luggage handles that attach directly onto the main luggage handle. This allows for easier transport and protection of the case when being stored at the airport. Make sure to research which ones are approved before buying them so you know they're guaranteed to work with your device.
Another option is to purchase a hardshell briefcase that has padding or foam inserts sewn into the interior. These are typically cheaper than soft luggage, but may not be totally protective if hit too hard.
Pay to check your bag
Many airlines now allow you to check your luggage before boarding. This is great news for travelers who like to carry their musical equipment with them!
A small amount of baggage that you have checked will usually cost around $25-30 per item, depending on how much space each piece takes up. Some even waive this fee if you are traveling during off season times or at low traffic periods.
This article and video can help you learn how to pack light while carrying music. You may also want to read our article about the best guitar cases.
Plan ahead and bring your own bag
Many musicians cannot be fully productive without their instrument, so they are constantly looking for ways to carry it with them. There are many different types of cases and bags that can be used for this. Most have adjustable straps that can be sized up or down depending on how much space you have and what size case or strap you have already.
Some people choose to use their current equipment as is because they feel it is good enough, but most professional level players find there is something they are missing out on by not having extra padding or compartments.
There are several companies that make very expensive soft luggage that has all of the features needed, but this is definitely not necessary for anyone! Having an inexpensively priced case or backpack will still give you the same quality experience.