Air travel with instruments can be a very stressful experience for many musicians. Confusing policies and contradicting behaviour from many of the most popular airlines means that every trip is a guessing game.
At MyLuthier, we have experienced our share of pain trying to carry our instruments on board so we decided to compile a list of official airline baggage policies regarding musical instruments.
While most airlines have clear rules regarding what you can or cannot take on board (including measurements and weight limits), some do not, so it’s best to always check directly with the airline before traveling.
To make this list even more useful, if you have travelled with some of these companies in the past, feel free to rate your experience and let other users know what to expect!
Our goal is to find out which airlines are the most musician-friendly, both in terms of baggage policy and overall customer experience.
Please note that this list only includes official policies extracted from the companies’ official websites. It’s possible that some travellers have managed to bring larger or heavier items than specified, but this should not be taken as a guarantee for future travel! It’s always best to stick to the specified guidelines to avoid disappointment!
Before you travel
If your musical instrument is not insured – INSURE IT NOW – even if you’re not planning on traveling!
Make sure your insurance policy provides worldwide cover, or the country you’re flying to is specifically mentioned.
Also note that some insurance providers state worldwide cover while excluding particular countries in the fine print (Iraq and Afghanistan are a common example).
It might sound obvious but always make sure your instrument is properly packed before even getting to the airport! This is especially important if you’re on tour or fly regularly, as the constant travel might inadvertently make you pack less carefully.
Only check in cellos as hold baggage if they’re packed in a flight case! If not, it’s always best to buy an extra seat, but if for some reason the airline insists that your cello needs to be taken in the hold, DON’T DO IT – regardless of any assurances they might try to give you.
Sometimes is best to book another flight than to risk destroying your instrument.
Always call the airline before booking. While some airlines specifically mention double basses in their hold luggage policies, most do not, so it’s best to check before you even purchase your own ticket.