Can You Take a Guitar On a Plane? 2024

Guitars are one of the most popular musical instruments passengers wanted to know if they are allowed on planes and how to fly with a guitar? But can you take a guitar as a carry-on?

According to the TSA all types of guitars are allowed in both carry-on and checked bags, however; your guitar will be subject to a physical inspection at the security checkpoint, ensure that your guitar is also within your airline luggage size before taking it on board the airplane.

In this post I will cover everything you need to know about taking guitars on planes and how to fly with a guitar the right way, in addition of some airlines rules and guidelines.

Let’s dive right in.

acoustic guitar
Image Courtesy / Amazon

Can You Bring a Guitar Through The TSA Security Checkpoint?

The Transportation Security Administration ( TSA ) regulates what is permitted on planes in both carry-on and checked bags within and from the US airports.

And according to them guitars are good to go through the security checkpoint without any issues as long as you check with your airline.

Any musical instrument including guitar will be subject for a physical inspection a the security checkpoint.

You should inform the security officer inspecting your items if your guitar requires special handling.

Here is a screenshot form the TSA website.

TSA Rules on guitars
Type of guitarsAllowed in Carry-on baggageAllowed in Checked Baggage
Acoustic GuitarYes if it fits in the overhead bin; or under the seat in front of youYes
Classical GuitarYes if it fits in the overhead bin; or under the seat in front of youYes
Electric ( bass ) GuitarYes if it fits in the overhead bin; or under the seat in front of youYes
Guitar pedals YesYes
Guitar AmpYesYes
guitar stringsYesYes

How To Carry Guitar In Domestic Flight?

Within the US the TSA Rules mentioned above applies, but you will need also to know your airline regulations.

If your guitar is is too large for carry-on or do not fit under the seat, the airline will treat your it as a checked bag.

If you have to check in your guitar, talk to your airline before booking as some airlines may apply additional charges .

For example here what Delta says about where to put guitars on airplane:

Guitars and smaller musical instruments like Violins or flutes will be accepted as your free carry-on bag item on Delta and Delta Connection flights. Your carry-on must easily fit in the overhead bin or other approved storage locations, in the cabin, based on available space at the time of boarding. Please note, if overhead bin space is limited or if you prefer, you may check your instrument at the gate.

Can a Guitar Fit In The Overhead Bin?

A small guitar will fit in the overhead bin just like a normal carry-on bag.

If the airline allows two carry on pieces one main carry-on bag and one personal item, your guitar will be counted as one of these pieces, so make sure to minimize your carry on, so you will be able to take your guitar onboard.

If you are traveling with a partner you can transfer some of your items (clothes, toiletries etc) to his or her carry-on luggage, and if there is any unnecessary items you don’t need in carry on, leave them at home or place them in your free checked baggage, that way you have more space and your lovely guitar will be transported on board.

There is also a technique that most airlines allows which is luggage pooling; if you find that your carry on baggage is large or you have many bags that you have to pay for, you can share it with your partner, friend or a family member if they have less baggage.

In the other hand if you find that you will have to check in your guitar, make sure that you pack your guitar properly , put it in a solid case and make sure you don’t put any other item inside the case, and talk to the airline staff to handle it nicely.

How Much It Cost To Check a Guitar On Plane?

Most airlines will count your guitar as part of your luggage, and if the airlines offers free standard luggage and the guitar is within the airline luggage size and weight limits you won’t pay any fees.

If the airline applies some charge for carry-on you will need to pay as a normal carry-on fee.

In the other hand if your guitar is too large for carry-on the same thing applies for checked baggage.

Here is an overview about checked baggage charges for major US airlines:

American Airlines / Delta Airlines / United Airlines on domestic flights checked baggage fees is : $30 for first checked bag, $40 for the second, $150 for the third.

Can You Take a Guitar On a Plane Without a Case?

According to ecfr website any music instrument carried on board must be contained in a case or covered to avoid injury to other passengers.

Your guitar can be stowed safely in the baggage compartment or under the seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage established by the FAA to avoid any damage of your guitar or cause inconvenience or other passengers.

Airlines Rules

Airlines In The United States

AirlinesAllow guitar as carry onCarry on dimensionsCharges*
Delta AirlinesAllowedDomestic: 22 x 14 x 9 in
International: 22 x 14 x 9 in
American AirlinesAllowedDomestic: 22 in x 14 in x 9 in
International: 22 x 14 x 9 in
Southwest AirlinesAllowedDomestic: 10 x 16 x 24 in
International:10 x 16 x 24 in
Air CanadaAllowedDomestic: 9 x 15.5 x 21.5 in
International:9 x 15.5 x 21.5 in
United AirlinesAllowedDomestic:22 x 14 x 9 in
International:22 x 14 x 9 in
Spirit AirlinesAllowedDomestic:18 x 14 x 8 in
International: 18 x 14 x 8 in
From $26

* Some airlines do not allow guests with basic economy class to have carry on luggage, but they still entitled to have some small items like a small purse diaper bag or other essential items.

Airlines In Europe

AirlinesAllow guitar as carry onCarry on dimensionsCharges
Air France KLM Allowed Up to 300 cm/Max 32kg Fee Applicable
Lufthansa Allowed 155 cm x 42 cm x 25 cm (stood in cabin)
110 cm x 42 cm x 50 cm (strapped to the seat)
Within EU (€200)
International ($300)
British Airways Allowed 80 x 45 x 25cm – Cannot exceed 75kg (for booked seats) Fee Applicable
Virgin Atlantic Allowed Cannot exceed 23kg Fee Applicable
Ryanair Allowed 55cm x 40cm x 20cm Fee Applicable
EasyJet Allowed Up to 32kg Fee Applicable
FlyBeAllowedUp to 20kg£30/€40 Minimum
Emirates Allowed 22 x 15 x 8 inchesFee applicable


How To Pack a Guitar In Checked Luggage?

It is important to neatly pack your guitar and keep it protected during the transportation.
Check out this YouTube video for more tips on how to pack your guitar for traveling.

Can You Take a Guitar On a Plane: The Final Thoughts

Generally you can bring a guitar on a plane in both carry-on and checked baggage.

But traveling with your guitar on a pane should be planned and managed carefully, before booking with any airline make sure to contact them, and confirm that you are traveling with your guitar.

Get the size requirement and if they apply fees or any other rules on traveling with musical instrument.

Keep in mind that planes are different in the capacity or the size of the overhead bin, and sometimes the airline agent will not be able to specify the airplane size you will traveling with.

I hope this helps

Happy travels