Are Guitars Allowed on Airplanes

Are Guitars Allowed on Airplanes

I wanted to go on a trip across the pond for a vacation. This was going to be a long trip. I would stay about a month. Then fly to some nearby country’s. Since I was going for such a long time. I wanted to take my guitar with me.

I needed to know are guitars allowed on airplanes? Yes we know that you can take your guitar, and put it inside the belly of the plane. But are guitars allowed on the plane? Like a carry on. So I set out to do a little research. To find out that: Yes guitars are allowed on airplanes. 

Each airline addresses this topic a little differently. If you want to see what the restrictions are for your airline continue to read more..

What are Some of the Restrictions Airlines Pose for Carry On’s?

What I mean is many airlines let you take an instrument on the plane, but each individual airlines have there own policy’s and procedures that are outlined.

Some Airlines allow one personal Item, and a carry on bag. Safety regulations have restrictions on the size of the carry on bag. Other airlines maintain you have to pay for a seat to take a guitar on the plane.

In this article I want to break down all the myths, and get to the facts. On several of the “Heavy hitters” when it comes to the airlines.

Does a Guitar Qualify as Carry on Luggage?

According to the Us Department of transportation Musical instruments are classified as a “carry on luggage”. The department requires the airlines to accept that the musical instrument is “Checked Baggage on a commercial passenger flight. Then it goes on to say “providing certain conditions are met”.

What are these conditions? 

The Airline Carrier must allow customers to stow there “small” instruments in the cabin. Providing there is room in the overhead compartments. The instrument must meet the carry on policy’s all ready set by the FAA Safety regulations.

The Rule set forth by the Department of Transportation says that the airline does not have to give priority to the guitar carrying customers.

The Airlines are required to comply with the customer who has bought an additional seat for their instrument.

Source US Department of Transportation

What are American Airlines Policy’s on Carry on’s & Guitars?

First off American Airlines allows one carry on bag for Free. This is for there economy class customers. There are some carry on items that are restricted. Before making the trip take the time to know what you can carry on. Here is a helpful link.

The policy states that you can carry on one personal item, and one carry on. There are rules that go with this policy.

  1. Personal item must fit under the seat in front of you.
  2. Dimension’s of the personal item are limited to no more than 18 x 14 x 8 inches.

What are the Requirements for Carry on bags?

  1. Carry on dimensions – 22 x 14 x 9 inches (56 x 36 x 23 centimeters)  Note that the Wheels, and handles are included in the dimension’s. Which should not be exceeded.
  2. All carry on’s must fit in the sizer at the airport. If it doesn’t fit then they may need to be checked.
  3. Musical instruments (guitars) are considered a carry on item. They must fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat.

For the scope of items that are in the Policy regarding carry on bags. Click for American Airlines Carry on’s.

 Can I Take a Guitar onto Southwest Airlines?

The Transportation Security Administration says that carry on bags are limited. One bag, and one (small) personal item. Southwest says:

  1. Carry on bags are limited to 10 x 16 x 24 inches.
  2. Instruments must be store in the overhead compartment.
  3. If the dimension’s that are listed are exceeded then the item will have to be stowed in the bottom of the plane.

Personal Items

  • Personal Items must be stored under the seat in front of you. There dimensions are not to exceed 18.5 x 8.5 x 13.5 inches. Note: If the item will not fit under the seat you will  be required to stow it in the overhead compartment. Source Southwest.

Southwest considers your musical instrument “Special luggage”, and so do I. If your guitar won’t fit in the overhead, or under the seat in front of you.  Maybe you would want to consider a TSA Approved Guitar Case that is recommend Gear.To protect your guitar while in the belly of the plane.

  • SouthWest says if your musical instrument on board exceeds (10″x16″x24″).Which is the limit for carry on items. It can still be carried on board. But must be stowed in the overhead compartment, or under the seat. There must be room prior to you boarding the plane.
  • If neither one of the stowed previsions above will work then you can by a seat for your guitar. There are some previsions though.
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Provisions for Guitar Riding on Aircraft Seat

  1. Instrument must be secured with a seat-belt, and cannot obstruct signs.
  2. The instrument must be closest to the window. Closer than anyone in the first row.
  3. To buy a seat a reservation must be made, and a ticket bought for no more than the cost of a child’s seat.
  4. You may substitute one piece of luggage for the instrument.
  5. Southwest says they retain no liability for damage.
  6. Southwest will not allow any instrument that exceeds 150 inches, or that ways more than 165 lbs. As Carry on Luggage.

Click this link for more information on Carry on’s.

Can I Take a Guitar on United Airlines?

United had a different approach. That is they advise you right of the bat not to stow musical instruments. That is they will not be responsible for your musical instrument, or a numerous list of other items. If it is damaged. United is a little hostile, in my opinion that they hold no liability.

They say that if you choose to pack high Value, fragile, or perishable goods that is checked in. Then they hold no responsibility for damage, destruction or delay of return of your luggage. Even for international flights liability is limited. This makes me think about who i’m going to choose for taking a flight.

Musical instruments 

United goes on to say musical instruments can be carried on, and handled like seat baggage. Depending on the size. If a musical instrument does not fit into the overhead bin, then it will be checked in, and you will incur a charge.

Basic Economy ticket holders are allowed to bring one small instrument as a substitute for a carry on bag.


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Can I Take a Guitar on Delta Airlines

Delta states that musical instruments can be carried onto the airplane. Further more Delta states equipment can be carried on too. They specifically clarify that you may carry the instrument on, check it, or Cabin seat baggage.

They also say to ” Please help keep your guitar safe by keeping it in a hard shell case”. If you don’t have a hard shell case then take a look at the Gator Cases there also TSA Approved.

You can purchase a ticket for your instrument at full fare price. If you don’t want it checked in, and it won’t fit in the overhead, or under the seat. Restrictions for instruments that might need there own seat are:

  • If the instrument exceeds 165 lbs.
  • Instruments must be packaged to avoid injury to passengers.
  • Must be secured with a seat belt.
  • Must not obstruct signage or exits.
  • The item must be secured next to the owner.

Source Delta

Spirit Airline Carry on Policy 

What is Spirit airlines baggage policy?

  • Carry on luggage – Subject to fees
  • Personal item – No fee
  • 1 Carry on item – Subject to fee
  • Checked baggage – fee; more than 2 bags- fee
  • Bags that are over the weight & size – fee depending on size/weight
  • Sports equipment is subject to fees depending on the item

Carry on Policy

Spirit allows one carry on item per customer. This is actually fee free. There are some restrictions though.

  1. The Carry on can not exceed 50 linear inches (22 x 18 x 10 in) or 127 centimeters (56 x 46 x 25 cm).
  2. It must fit either in the overhead compartment or under the seat that is in front of you.

Personal items 

  • Should not exceed 40 linear inches (18 x 14 x 8 in) or 102 centimeters (46 x 36 x 20 cm).
  • Should fit under the seat that is in front of you.

Spirit airlines allows musical instruments to be carried on as long as the instrument does not exceed the dimensions of:  22″ + 18″+ 10″ inches. If the size of the instrument exceeds the required restrictions for carry on. Then the customer has to buy a ticket for a seat. The cost of the ticket is the cost of the fare for a seat on the plane.

Further restrictions mandate that the instrument must be secure in a window seat. The Emergency exit seating is not permitted to be used as a seat for an instrument.

Furthermore the instrument must be in the seat next to where you are sitting. The instrument can not block signage, and must meet weight restrictions of the applicable aircraft.

Source Spirit Airlines

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Related Article: Best Electric Guitar Amp for Beginners.

Guitars on Jetblue? – What are the Carry on Policy’s for Jetblue?

Jet Blue says a musical instrument is allowed to be carried on into the plane as a carry on bag. With the stipulation it has to fit under the seat, or in the overhead compartment. If the instrument will not fit under the seat, or the overhead compartment you must check it.

Items that are checked have to be in a hard shell case. Jet blue is not responsible for damage.

All Carry on baggage is first come first serve bases.

If the musical instrument won’t fit under the seat or overhead compartment you may buy a seat for it.  It can not weigh more than 165 lbs. May not have sharp edges. It must be capable of being secured in the seat with the seat belt.

The instrument must be placed in a window seat. That is not in an exit row. It can not obstruct signage. The instrument has to be put on before other customers have started to board. The instrument must be taken off after all customers have come off the plane.

Source Jetblue

If you Don’t have a guitar case that is TSA Approved look into the Best Guitar Cases for Flying.

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Can I Take a Guitar on British Airways?

British Airways says you can take musical instruments on board. The downside is if the instrument weighs a lot, or is over-sized you may incur a charge.

You are also requested to notify the Airline in advance so they can have storage available.

Small instruments can be taken on the plane. The dimension’s of the musical instrument can not exceed  the dimensions of 80 x 45 x 25cm (31 x 18 x 10in). This is to fit into the overhead compartment.

If a larger instrument is to be carried on the plane. Like a guitar, or a bigger instrument. You need to buy an extra seat. Then you have to notify British Airways 24 hours in advance of the flight.

British Airways only excepts guitars in a hard shell case. They can not be responsible for guitars in a soft case.

Source British Airways

TSA requires guitars that are going to be carried onto the plane have to be inspected. The instrument must undergo screening, and a physical inspection.

Tips for Traveling

Here are some tips when Carrying your instrument on board an airplane.

  • Select a non stop flight, in case the instrument has to go into the belle of the plane. It will be less likely to end up lost on a direct flight.
  • Selecting specific off peak times to fly can help with the possibility of having room in the cabin for carry on instruments.
  • Check the Airlines Website for information concerning carry on luggage.
  • Check to see if the plane that you will be flying is a (Code-Share flight) Which is a smaller type of plane. This may cause you not to be able to take your instrument if there is no room on the plane.

Source Transportation.Gov

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Q – Assuming the space is available. A musical instrument must be carried in the overhead compartment no matter the size or weight of it. (unless it exceeds the MFG. limits)?

A – The answer is the musical instrument, and or no other item can cause the bin to exceed the Max weight limit that is placarded on the container. If the instrument is in the container, and another item causes it to exceed the capacity then the bigger object should be removed. If it is the instrument then it should be removed.

Q – Can Airlines charge fees for instruments that are being carry on like luggage?

A – Carriers are able to charge for carry on instruments. The carrier can charge the same fee’s as would apply to regular carry on luggage. Such as oversize and overweight.

Q – Carrier’s that allow passengers a carry-on bag plus a “personal item”. Can a passenger bring into the cabin a carry-on bag,
a personal item, and a musical instrument?

A – The Musical instrument must count as a carry on item, if the carrier allows one carry on and one personal item. Then if the instrument is smaller it can then be treated as a personal item. If the instrument is the same size as a personal item. The customer can then bring on another carry on item.

Q –  If a person is in economy class, but there is no room in the overhead compartment for their instrument, but there is room in a different class does the airline have to stow my instrument?

A – Lastly Airline Carriers are not required to stow in a different class.

Source DOT office of AE&P


If there are concerns or complaints that you have, and need addressed. Contact the airline consumer contacts. The DOT requires the Airlines provide information on how to file a complaint.

It is best to go to the website for the airline in question. Here is a list of some of the Airlines contacts.

Related Article: The top 5 best guitar amps review.

Related Questions

Are Electric Guitars Allowed on Airplanes?

You can bring your electric guitar on an airplane. Check with the individual airline carrier to see the weight restrictions and dimensions. This may be a disqualifying factor. A carry on instruments have strict guidelines that one must follow.

If the guitar does not meet the required specifications as a carry on. Then you can buy a seat for the guitar.  Contact the individual carrier to see what there rules are for carry on’s.

First off see the previously mentioned airlines for there requirements for carry on Luggage.

The content in this  article is based off of the information gathered from the sources in the article. Furthermore the post is kept up to date, and is as accurate as possible. It is best practice to contact the airline prior to making reservations.

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