Air Travel with Melody: Can You Take a Musical Instrument on a Plane?

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Air Travel with Melody: Can You Take a Musical Instrument on a Plane?Traveling with a musical instrument can be as harmonious as a well-played symphony or as discordant as a first violin lesson. For all the touring musicians, weekend gig warriors, and vacationing virtuosos, the question arises – can you take a musical instrument on a plane?

🤔 TL;DR:

  • Yes, you can take musical instruments on a plane as carry-on or checked baggage, subject to airlines’ size and weight requirements.
  • Policies on instrument storage and handling vary among airlines.
  • Research and know the policies of your airline to avoid mishaps and ensure safe transit for your instrument.
  • Senator Orrin Hatch introduced the MICO Act in 2012 to protect musicians’ rights while traveling with instruments.
  • The American Federation of Musicians recommends researching airline policies before traveling.

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A Tune to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Guidelines

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), you can indeed bring your beloved instrument on board. The FAA allows musical instruments as carry-on or checked baggage on planes, given they adhere to the size and weight requirements of the airline. The Stradivarius and the vintage Les Paul can breathe a sigh of relief! 🎸🎻

Airline Policies: An Overture of Options and Requirements

However, before you strike up the band, remember that different airlines have different policies. Some airlines may allow instruments to be stored in overhead compartments or under seats, while others may require them to be checked in as fragile items. It’s like an orchestra where each airline plays its own tune.

Sound Words from Senator Orrin Hatch

As the wise Senator Orrin Hatch once said, “Musicians should be able to travel with their instruments without fear of harm or hassle, and we must find a way to balance security requirements with common sense.” Hatch introduced the Musical Instruments Carry-On (MICO) Act in 2012 to protect musicians’ rights to bring their instruments on planes. The MICO Act strikes a chord with musicians, harmonizing their need to travel with their precious instruments.

Expert Opinions on the High Notes and Low Notes of Traveling with Instruments

The American Federation of Musicians sheds light on some of the challenges musicians face when traveling with instruments, stating, “Musicians who travel frequently with their instruments often face significant challenges, including damage to instruments, lost or stolen instruments, and excessive fees for checked baggage.” They recommend thorough research on airline policies to keep your instrument and wallet in tune.

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Benefits of Traveling with Your Instrument

Traveling with your instrument allows you to practice, perform, and share your music wherever you go. With careful planning, you can ensure your instrument reaches your destination unscathed, letting the music play on.

Kevin’s Insider Tips for Smooth Travel with Musical Instruments

As a seasoned travel journalist and an avid music lover, I have had my share of experiences traveling with musical instruments. Here are some tips:

  1. Always check the airline’s specific instrument policy before booking.
  2. Consider investing in a high-quality, hard-shell case for your instrument.
  3. Loosen the strings on stringed instruments to prevent damage due to pressure changes.
  4. If possible, purchase an extra seat for larger instruments to avoid checking them in.

Additional Tips for Harmonious Air Travel with Your Instrument

Now that you’re equipped with the core information about traveling with your musical instrument, let’s dive deeper into some practical tips that will help you strike the right chord with airline staff and fellow passengers.

A Melodious Check-In Process

When you arrive at the airport, it’s essential to communicate clearly and politely about your instrument with airline staff. Remember, the adage, “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar,” holds even in the hustle-bustle of airports. Make sure to explain that your instrument is fragile and must be handled carefully.

Solo or Symphony: The Number of Instruments Matter

While a solo performance might be preferred in a recital, it’s a different story when it comes to air travel. Carrying multiple instruments might require extra fees or special arrangements. Hence, planning in advance and communicating with the airline can prevent last-minute crescendos at the airport.

In Tune with Security

Instruments often require special attention during security screening. Be prepared to open your case, and remember that patience and politeness go a long way. If necessary, ask for hand-checking to prevent damage during the screening process.

Music to Your Ears: Insurance for Your Instrument

Getting your instrument insured is like hitting a high note; it provides peace of mind. Insurance policies vary, and some even cover air travel. Do your research and find a policy that resonates with your needs.

Every Note Matters: Care for Your Instrument While Traveling

Finally, remember that your instrument is not just baggage; it’s an extension of your passion and creativity. Treat it with the care it deserves, just as you would if you were playing it. By doing so, you can ensure that your journey, like your music, hits all the right notes.


What happens if my instrument is too large for carry-on?

If your instrument is too large for carry-on, you might have to check it in as a fragile item or purchase an additional seat for it, depending on the airline’s policy.

How can I prevent my instrument from being damaged during travel?

Invest in a quality hard-shell case, loosen the strings on stringed instruments, and consider purchasing an extra seat for larger instruments.

What is the MICO Act?

The Musical Instruments Carry-On (MICO) Act was introduced in 2012 by Senator Orrin Hatch to protect musicians’ rights to carry their instruments on planes.

Are there additional fees for carrying an instrument on a plane?

Fees can vary depending on the airline’s policy. Some airlines charge for extra or oversized carry-on items, while others may charge if the instrument has to be checked in.

Should I detune my guitar before a flight?

Yes, it’s recommended to detune guitars and other stringed instruments before a flight to prevent damage due to pressure changes.

What should I do if my instrument gets damaged during the flight?

If your instrument is damaged during flight, report it to the airline immediately upon discovery. Keep all your travel documents, and consider getting it insured beforehand.

How can I ensure my instrument is safe during security checks?

Request a hand-check for your instrument during security screening to prevent potential damage from the usual conveyor belt and X-ray machine process.

Can I bring multiple musical instruments on a plane?

Yes, but carrying multiple instruments might require extra fees or special arrangements. It’s best to check with the airline ahead of time.

Do I need to inform the airline if I’m traveling with a musical instrument?

Yes, informing the airline can help ensure that they make appropriate accommodations for your instrument.

Is it beneficial to insure my musical instrument before traveling?

Yes, insurance can provide coverage in case of damage, loss, or theft during travel, providing you peace of mind.

Also check out: Can I take a guitar on a plane?


Traveling with a musical instrument on a plane may seem like a daunting symphony, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it can be as smooth as a perfectly played adagio. Remember to research your chosen airline’s policies and adhere to FAA guidelines to ensure your instrument’s safe journey.

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