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Thread: Guitar flight case in overhead?

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    Registered User Rich Benson's Avatar
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    Default Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Does anyone know if a Dread size Calton or Hoffee or Hiscox Artist case will fit in an airplane overhead?
    Rich

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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    It depends on the plane, luggage bin dimensions vary. I would venture to say usually, but I've seen exceptions that were too short. And on regional flights with smaller planes there is often no storage at all. A sympathetic flight attendant might be willing to stash it in a closet for you. A more specific question would probably get you a better answer.

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    Registered User Rich Benson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I can be more specific. Flying Denver to Boston on Southwest, larger plane, 737 nonstop.
    Rich

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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I've flown Southwest with a guitar several times with no problems. Their bins are plenty big enough, and you can count on the planes all being the same. You might want to pay extra to get in the first boarding group to make sure you get space. I've also been told that the agents are not allowed to question your eligibility for "needing extra time" to board early, but I haven't tested that.

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    Registered User Lucas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Make sure you buy priority boarding on Southwest so that you can board in Group A.

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    Registered User sunburst's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I've put a dreadnought, in a Calton, in the overhead of a 737. It will fit, but I wasn't counting on being allowed to carry it on. (I was also allowed to carry it on and put it in a seat in a smaller plane on a flight that was not sold out.)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Maybe things have changed for the better, but I doubt it. 15-20 years ago I flew all the time with a guitar and it was always a challenge just to get it past the agent to board the plane, let alone finding overhead space for it. Even with trying to be extra sweet and positive with loads of personality -- the attendants mostly followed the rules and only once in a great while do it go smoothly. If I got it past the boarding gate, sometimes a kind attendant would allow me to store it in the closet. YMMV, but I wouldn't assume it is a done deal, even with somebody saying it is on the phone or in online. Sure, if you buy a separate seat and strap it in, but for most of us that is not an option.

    Basically, the carryon luggage limit size is 22x14x9 inches, so putting a guitar in a hardshell takes up the space of three bags. Sure, if you are first you can claim the space, if you want to be that person...another problem is people will open a closed bin and still try to stuff their bag in there even though they can see your guitar -- so you kinda have to sit near it while boarding and defend "your" space. (I won't mention the time I was flying back from Bordeaux and someone put some wine bottles in their carryon and they broke, wine dripping on the heads of the people seated below....imagine a guitar in that scenario...)

    I often carried an electric solid body guitar in a gig bag over my shoulder positioned on the side away from the attendant at the boarding gate with the bulk of the guitar slung toward my back out of view, like a back pack. I did that for a long time and got away with it. A dreadnought in an actual flight case is a WHOLE 'NUTHER STORY, IMHO.

    Another scenario I can quickly see is that it is flagged at the last minute while boarding and you are forced to check it "because it has a FLIGHT case!"

    Hopefully, my info is out of date and things are easier now. Obviously, professional musicians carry guitars on planes all the time. I was a professional, also, but I was working within a budget and buying an extra seat was not an option. When I would go to europe, I would have to check a guitar at the front desk. Usually, a Fender in a Fender case and had zero problems over the years, although I did worry when it was coming off the baggage conveyor, not so much for damage as somebody grabbing it before I noticed it. Of course, that is a solidbody. A nice acoustic, I would worry about damaging it.

    Which brings up another train of thought I just had -- when you send a guitar, even overnight, how carefully is it being handled? I don't think we will ever really know and luck plays a role, hopefully.

    Sorry to ramble......good luck with your trip!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    As others said, you need to be in the first group boarding. I haven't flown this year (next week that changes), but the gate folks were very much aware of when the storage is starting to fill up and they are pretty quick to just say "no more carry on luggage" if it's not going under the seat in front of you, even when you'd get on and see that your bag might still have gone somewhere.

    The airlines get fined for delays that are within their control, and having a bunch of folks queued up while someone is trying to find a space for something as big as a dreadnaught in a case is going raise flags about 10 minutes after boarding starts, IME. (Heck, I'm not sure my mandolin will make it past, but we do have extra legroom seats, so I can still put it there, I hope!)
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    Registered User Drew Egerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    If you google for the bin sizes for your specific plane you can usually find the dims.
    However, be sure it is the exact name. Depending on what comes after the "737-" they may be somewhat different.
    I was on a few different planes but when I just flew CLT to SFO, my rectangular mandolin case fit, but not with near enough length leftover for a guitar size.
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    Registered User Dan Adams's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I flew from Phoenix to Denver on a 737 about 5 years ago carrying by brother-in-law’s Larivee in the original hard shell case. Case size 43” long by 19” wide. The staff never questioned the size of the case and it fit into the overhead. I didn’t board early, but it was a summer flight and not full. I see a lot of guitars in cases being carried on flights in recent travels.
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    Registered User Denis Kearns's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    That’s why I have a nice little seagull artist series parlor guitar that I use for traveling. It’s got a full size neck, plays like a dream, and has a nice sound (but not very loud). Don’t know why they don’t make it anymore; I really like it. It’s small enough to easily fit in the overhead and still allow other people room for their stuff. I used to keep a nice dreadnought at my folks’ house, so I always had something to play when I visited them. Now, when flying I have to decide whether I’ll take a guitar or a mandolin. And eventually, I figure I’ll have one of each at my kids’ houses and maybe my siblings as well. That way I can go visiting and have room for other baggage. I guess I’ll need to buy some additional instruments!

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    Registered User Sue Rieter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lucas View Post
    Make sure you buy priority boarding on Southwest so that you can board in Group A.
    Be aware that priority boarding is no guarantee of group A on Southwest. My sister flew Manchester NH to Tucson several weeks ago with priority boarding. She was in group B (still likely okay for overhead bin space - I was in B last summer and there was sufficient room for my mandolin case).
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    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Flying Southwest, pay for Early-bird boarding and you'll be fine. The bins are of sufficient size for a guitar and Southwest's policy for bin space is first come first served.

  14. #14
    Registered User CWRoyds's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I have traveled with guitars and other large instruments like Sitars, which are pretty huge in a case.
    Your best bet is to take it to the gate, and if they don't let you take it on, just request a "gate check".
    Basically they check in your baggage for stowing underneath, BUT it is hand carried from the gate to a special compartment on the plane (with baby carriages etc).
    On the other end they hand deliver it to you just outside the door of the plane, where the parents pick up their baby carriages.

    I have had no issues with this.
    Best part is that it doesnt have to travel through the airport system and then get tossed onto the plane with the other suitcases.
    It will never sit out on a runway, etc etc.
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I'm surprised anyone finds any extra room in the overhead these days. Every flight I take, they're all full the the brim, with no empty seats. I can't imagine lugging a dreadnought onto such a flight.

    I used to fly and check my Martin in its light blue OHSC and never had any trouble except for the time security opened it, looked under the flap, closed the flap and DIDN'T NOTICE THAT HE'D PULLED THE STAPES OUT AND LEFT THEM STICKING UP INTO MY GUITAR NECK. (Grrr, but chapter closed on that.) That was before "United Breaks Guitars" and I just haven't happened to fly with a guitar since then that I recall.

    I would plan to check at the gate. I think that's the best option, and if the flight isn't full and they let you carry it on, well fine (and good luck.)

    Also, regarding variation: each airline gets to define how a plane is finished; how many seats, etc., with lots of options. Even for two of the same plane on the same airline, the planes could have been bought in different batches with different options. There are no guarantees. However, I believe most full-sized planes do (or at least, used to) fit a dreadnought in the overhead.

  16. #16

    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffLearman View Post
    I would plan to check at the gate. I think that's the best option, and if the flight isn't full and they let you carry it on, well fine (and good luck.)
    But, what if they don't? Do you check it or do you take it home and reschedule your flight for another day? (and fly without the guitar)

    I would say unless you are a professional musician or delivering a guitar for a customer -- I would just fly without a guitar.

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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Regarding gate check, I once had the experience of gate checking a guitar which was sent through the regular baggage handling machinery upon arrival. It made it unscathed, but I was not happy. With Southwest it will fit in the bin, they are usually cooperative about getting it aboard, and you can pay for early boarding. No guarantees anywhere, but other airlines have more variables.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I have flown on Southwest with people carrying on guitars in flight cases-no problem. One of them was Del McCoury, who had his guitar in a Hoffee flight case. As many others have said, pay extra for the A boarding group. You should find plenty of room in the overhead. I have never had a problem carrying my mandolin on many Southwest flights. My experience has been that the staff are very solicitous of instruments. I would not advise anyone to check a mandolin or a guitar, at the gate or otherwise.

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    Registered User mingusb1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    No recent experience with this but I would think with the way things are going with flights, boarding, overbooking, etc. this could be kind of a nightmare.

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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    But, what if they don't? Do you check it or do you take it home and reschedule your flight for another day? (and fly without the guitar)

    I would say unless you are a professional musician or delivering a guitar for a customer -- I would just fly without a guitar.
    If they don't let you carry it on, you check it at the gate. It gets hand-packed below. After landing, it's usually in the jetway, along with the baby strollers as mentioned above. They give you a tag to prove it's yours. One might worry about someone carrying it away, especially if you're one of the last to get off the plane.

    Here is some good advice: https://www.guitaranswerguy.com/flyi...ecked-baggage/ At the end, it does say not to fly with a guitar if you can avoid it. It all depends on your risk tolerance. I probably flew a half-dozen times with my Martin and never had any bad luck except as mentioned above.

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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I had them hand carry instruments to baggage when they would let us carry them on. At the other end I watched out the window as our instruments, which were last on,then first off, were then thrown on the baggage cart, NO HAND CARRY, and buried beneath all the other luggage. Luck was with us and we had no damage, but not for lack of trying by the airport baggage handlers.
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  25. #22

    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    I can only comment on international flights, but I take long international flights a lot. I usually travel with a Bryant Trenier arch top guitar in a Calton case. I've also traveled with a banjo and a mandolin, always in Caltons. I just pack the headstock and check it as luggage. More flights than I can count (knock on wood) to and from the U.S., Asia, Europe and South Africa and many flights with in Europe. At least at the international airports I take the guitar to a separate baggage check-in where it is separately taken to the plane. The only problem I've ever had was on a flight from Cape Town to London where the guitar didn't arrive at Heathrow when I did. It missed the change of planes in Johannesburg. I filled out a form and it was delivered to my address in London the next day. You won't find a bigger fan of Calton cases than me. (If it's only a mandolin, that goes in the overhead or a closet.)

  26. #23
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    As someone commented above, with all the chaos surrounding baggage that's currently happening in many airports (such as Andy Irvine losing two irreplaceable instruments) I would be hesitant to travel with anything bigger than a mandolin case. I flew home to Ireland two years ago with a tenor banjo and acoustic guitar (both checked into the hold) and my mandolin (carried on thankfully) and I shudder to think about trying to do that now and expect them to actually arrive at the destination with me.
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    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    If you are risking the Russian roulette of getting your guitar flight case into overhead storage, I'd strongly recommend detuning and carefully packing padding (extra socks, underwear, etc) around the headstock to protect against a whiplash injury in the event you need to gate check the case. I used to travel cross country by airplane extensively with guitars in standard hardshell cases. I've had to gate-check several times and even though the luggage handlers have messed up the outer surface of the cases on occasion, guitars have come through unscathed.

  28. #25
    Registered User Russ Donahue's Avatar
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    Default Re: Guitar flight case in overhead?

    Maybe Southwest is different, but I've flown a lot this year for work on other airlines (masked) and have marveled at the "fighting" and juggling that goes on to find overhead bin space. Even first on, you may be forced to remove it to make room for others. Good luck!
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