Instrument Policy: Instruments qualifying
as a carry-on fit under the seat or in an
overhead bin; they must be checked if the
dimensions (l+w+h) exceed 45”. Soft-sided
cases will not be checked.
Damage Policy: Report damage at the airport within 24 hours; liability is limited to a
Instrument Policy: Delta’s “Fragile, Perishable
or Precious Items” guidelines apply. Items will
be accepted as checked baggage only if they
are packed sufficiently, according to Delta’s
determination. If not, you may be asked to
sign a release of liability.
Damage Policy: Delta “reserves the right to
deny any claim not presented within 24 hours
of the alleged occurrence.” Written notice of
damage must be received within 21 days.
YouTube Hit Shines Spotlight on
Air Travel Woes
What began in July as a simple You Tube
video of guitarist Dave Carroll singing about
a guitar broken during a United Airlines flight
became a viral juggernaut, racking up 4. 5 million views (at press time), and exposing the
issues with instrument air travel that players
have endured for decades.
discount on a service package they dubbed the
“Travel Relief” special, and making the TSA’s
guidelines available for download on their website. After weathering the storm of bad publicity, United donated $3000 in Caroll’s name to
the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz.
This information can be disregarded if you’re a big enough rock star to have your own private jet.
Instrument Policy: “If your musical instrument
does not meet the sizing requirements for carry-on items ( 10”x16”x24”), it will be handled as
checked baggage provided you do not wish to
purchase a seat for the instrument.” Conditions
apply for purchasing a seat. Southwest “assumes
no liability” for instruments in soft-sided cases,
though they are permitted.
Damage Policy: Damages must be reported
in person within four hours of arriving at
The story, according to Dave, goes as such:
his bandmate watches in horror from the
plane as Dave’s $3500 Taylor is tossed
around by baggage handlers. He eventually discovers the base of the guitar was
smashed, and tries in vain to make a claim
with United. After getting a 9-month run-around, Dave’s claim is ultimately denied.
Airline Instrument Policies
Taking responsibility for knowing your airline’s policies is a must when traveling with
instruments. Here are the instrument and
damage policies of five major U.S. airlines as
of August 3, 2009.
Instrument Policy: Instruments are accepted
as carry-on baggage as long as they can be
safely stowed and have dimensions no greater than 75” (the most generous of the five
airlines we checked out). Like other airlines,
you can check an appropriately packaged
instrument, sign a release for improperly
packaged gear, or purchase a seat.
Damage Policy: Notify a representative of the
airline within four hours of your arrival.
In frustration, Dave created and posted “United
Breaks Guitars,” the first in a three-part series,
to share his plight with the world. Within the
video’s first four days, United stock dropped
10%—$180 million—according to Times of
London. Taylor responded by posting a video
of Bob Taylor giving air travel advice, running a
Instrument Policy: Guitars “may be brought
on board only if they can be safely stowed in
an overhead bin or approved stowage location in the cabin.” Guitar is considered the
one allowed carry-on bag.
Damage Policy: Notify the airline in person within 24 hours of receiving your damaged luggage.
The bottom line is, research your airline before
traveling with a guitar, bring your instrument in
a sturdy case (there are some great flight cases
that now come with a gig bag inside), and if
your guitar suffers damage, report it right away.
If all else fails, be prepared to post a catchy
song and video to You Tube.—Rebecca Dirks
Click here to download our air travel podcast that details
alternative options for getting your gear to your gig.