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Transporting Guitar in Checked Bag?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by nicknklv, Jan 25, 2021.

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  1. nicknklv

    nicknklv Tele-Holic

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    I'm flying in a couple of weeks and want to take a guitar with me. It's a Strat copy with a bolt-on neck. I don't have a hard case for it, and honestly, even if I did, I don't know how comfortable I'd be with them throwing it around at airports.

    I've read plenty of stories about transporting guitars in a checked bag by taking the neck off the body, and putting it back after arriving. However, I have never done that so I've got way more questions than answers.

    What should I think about, look out for, avoid doing? Any tips on how to pack it properly? Should I wrap the neck and body in something to try to protect them better? Thinking there'll probably be enough clothes in there to make it nice and comfy. Anything specific when putting it back together?

    Any tips and experience you have had is appreciated! :)
     
  2. Preacher

    Preacher Friend of Leo's

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    I did this once as I had an extended time away from home.

    I put a capo on the neck about the 12th fret to hold the strings down. I de tuned the guitar and then I took the four screws at the neck off and put those in a plastic bag along with the neck plate for safe keeping. I put the body in between some pants and then laid the neck almost next to the body and wrapped some T shirts around it.

    I also put my small hand held screw driver so I could put it all back together when I got to my destination.

    Security stopped me and wanted to look in my bag after it went through the x ray machine. Apparently my small screw driver looked too much like something else.

    [​IMG]

    They checked it all over and let me go.
     
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  3. Lowerleftcoast

    Lowerleftcoast Friend of Leo's

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    Never tried it myself but I have seen steward/stewardess find places for guitar cases in the cabin near the bulkheads. Check the airline and see if you can carry it on.
     
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  4. rcole_sooner

    rcole_sooner Poster Extraordinaire

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  5. Henley

    Henley Tele-Holic

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    Agree with rcole, bolt-on-necks are the easiest to transport....learn to remove and reattach the neck. Break it down and pack it...problem solved.
     
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  6. Steerforth

    Steerforth Friend of Leo's

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    I don’t know, but I do have a traveling tip for guitars.

    If you ever fly in to Johannesburg, South Africa and they can’t find your guitar at baggage claim, wave a ten dollar bill at them. It improves their eyesight tremendously.

    It might take a twenty by now, I haven’t been there in a while.
     
  7. Oldsmobum

    Oldsmobum Tele-Meister

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    1. Get a cheap guitar you don’t care about losing
    2. Get a flight case
    3. Attempt to carry on, it is allowed (domestic flights) if there is room to stow it (usually coat rack). I have had great success with this. Be nice, it works!
    4. Worst case scenario it gets gate checked anyway, and you’ve done all you can.
    5. You want to gate check it if you’re going to check it anyway. If you don’t, TSA will check the baggage themselves, and they won’t rewrap anything correctly or put things back correctly. I have had very expensive tools damaged by them.. they are nice enough to leave a note at least.

    Remember, cheap guitar.
     
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  8. Peegoo

    Peegoo Poster Extraordinaire

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    THIS ^^^ I've done it several times, and the flight crew finds a space for it in one of the hang-up wardrobe cabinets on the jet.

    Call the airline about your intent to transport an electric guitar in a gig bag as a carry-on, but describe the gig bag specifically as a "form-fitting soft bag." If you get a yes, get the agent's name and record it along with time and date of the conversation, in the event you get any pushback from the airline when you check in for the flight.

    The only way I've checked a guitar on an airline is in a road case.
     
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  9. LOSTVENTURE

    LOSTVENTURE Tele-Afflicted

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    There are travel safe, airline grade, cases every place. That would be the cheapest, safest way I would go.
     
  10. Collin D Plonker

    Collin D Plonker Tele-Afflicted

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    I have done it before. It's a gamble, but you may get a cool TSA sticker on the case.
     
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  11. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    I check a large suitcase when I travel for the summer. I can easily and safely pack my Strat by removing the strings (do not just loosen them -- they can get pressed into the guitar and leave blemishes. Pack a new set) and taking off the neck. Clothes provide excellent cushioning.Easy, easy, easy. If your neck is shimmed, either tape the shims in place or save them, and you may need to do some tweaking upon reassembly. I also box and ship bolt-ons in a carton rather than using a case and guitar box as it saves loads of $$$ and is way more easy to pack reliably.
     
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  12. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Very easy to pack in a suitcase after removing the neck. I think this is a great option if you were planning to check a suitcase, anyway. I've even taken a Tele apart and put it in a daypack, with the neck (wrapped in an old T-shirt) sticking out the top of the daypack like a tennis racket handle would, and was able to carry it on and store it in the overhead, no problem. If you go carry-on only then you can't really bring a screwdriver so you end up having to borrow or buy one at your arrival point.

    I'm not a big fan of trying to wangle a spot in the coat hanger closet because it's such a crap shoot. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I'm also not a big fan of checking guitars even in flight cases because in my experience they just disappear. Security in airport baggage handling is terrible. When is the last time anyone made you show your checked bag receipts before you were allowed to carry your bag out of baggage claim? I've had several friends who raced down to the carousel, kept an eye on it, and went to the oversized bag area where golf clubs, skis, and electric guitars are supposed to be delivered, and their guitar just disappeared. Never really knew whether an airport employee stole it, or someone managed to nick it before they got down there, or what. If I were a touring musician I suppose I would just check the guitar, but as a person who very rarely needs to travel with a guitar I like taking a Tele or Strat, taking it apart, and keeping it with me.
     
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  13. nicknklv

    nicknklv Tele-Holic

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    Really good tips here, thank you all.

    Regarding carrying it onboard, I seriously doubt it. I am flying WizzAir, which is a budget carrier (no other companies fly between the two countries directly nowadays). These are the kind of people who make you pay for a carry on backpack, so I have serious doubts whether they'd let me take a guitar on. I'll give them a call to check anyway.

    I'm checking a bag anyway that's why I thought of this option. I can throw in a screwdriver to put it together when I get there. It's also a surprise because I'm taking it to my dad as a present, and I want to it to be hidden when I get there, and the next morning - poof - a guitar appears. :D
     
  14. dustoff pilot

    dustoff pilot TDPRI Member

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    Pretty sure Bill Kirchen still flies with his tele in a carry on bag.
     
  15. nicknklv

    nicknklv Tele-Holic

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    To bring some closure to this thread:
    I had to delay my flight by a few weeks, but I flew over on Sunday and am currently at my parents' place.

    Operation Guitar in Checked Bag was a success. It was much easier than I had thought - it was as simple as taking the neck off and screwing it on.

    I've now handed it over to my dad and he loves it! He likes that the neck is slimmer, while I've always had a thing for thicker necks. I also brought home my trusty Microcube and DS-1 (which he bought me 13 years ago) so he has a little rig to play through.

    Thanks for the tips! Really glad I had this community to reach out to and very grateful for the help. :)
     
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