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Unread 03-06-2010, 11:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

In about a week i'm going to spend some time in florida for about 6 days. As i'm sure most of you know, 6 days is far too long to spend without a guitar. I will be flying on southwest airlines, which is generally one of the best as far as customer service and overall flight satisfaction.

I am planning to take one guitar, a strat (I wouldnt want anything to happen to my beloved LP, would I? ). I have been told that a flight case is the only way to go. On the other hand, I have also heard that a gig bag is much better as it is less conspicuous and takes up less room in the cabin. I will never check a guitar. I have heard too many bad stories. Apparently, flight attendants are more likely to be cooperative, if you have a thin gig-bag.

So, my real question is, has anyone flown on Southwest with a guitar and have you had good or bad experiences?
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Unread 03-06-2010, 11:38 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

seriously doubt they will let you carry it on as it will have to fit in the overhead. I don't know of any airlines anymore that have coat closets etc. It all goes in the overhead or it goes in the belly.

When's the last time you've flown anywhere? I fly regularly for work and I have a hard time bringing our company sign (in a tube) on board, unless I'm flying Jetblue or Virgin because they have larger overhead bins.

Southwest is a budget airline and as such they have smalled seats and overheads.

Why don't you check it? I doubt anything will happen to it if you take it to the counter, declare it's value and have them put FRAGILE stickers ALL over it. I've done many times and never had an issue.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 11:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I was just down in Florida for a couple weeks. I was going to bring my George Lowden with me but the only thing the airline would tell me was the flight was completely booked and space would be limited.

I wasn't going to entrust a $6k guitar to the moron baggage handlers so I left it at home.

After landing I went to the GC in Miami and found a nice guitar, put it on the credit card, and the day before I left I returned said guitar for a full refund!

Thanks for the loaner GC!
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Unread 03-06-2010, 12:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by r9in09 View Post
seriously doubt they will let you carry it on as it will have to fit in the overhead. I don't know of any airlines anymore that have coat closets etc. It all goes in the overhead or it goes in the belly.

When's the last time you've flown anywhere? I fly regularly for work and I have a hard time bringing our company sign (in a tube) on board, unless I'm flying Jetblue or Virgin because they have larger overhead bins.

Southwest is a budget airline and as such they have smalled seats and overheads.

Why don't you check it? I doubt anything will happen to it if you take it to the counter, declare it's value and have them put FRAGILE stickers ALL over it. I've done many times and never had an issue.
The last time i've flown was roughly 4 months ago.

I have just heard plenty of stories about people declaring their guitar's value, and the employes still end up throwing the case or guitar into the plane, or onto a conveyor belt etc.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 01:56 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

smaller airlines usually have you check it, there is no room for them in the cabin.

I carry my Les Pauls in SKB cases, check it in and have insurance on them.
Domestic flights aren't that worrisome, international flights are nerve wracking.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 02:04 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

buy an ernie ball silhouette....there made to fit in overheads
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Unread 03-06-2010, 02:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I carried 2 Les Pauls on a Southwest plane at 2 different occasions. They do not have a coat hanger closet compartment on board, so your only option is the overhead compartment.
The first time was in a Custom shop case, and the second time was in a "chain saw" case, and they both fit in the overhead compartment just fine, so no need for a gig bag there. However, I was one of the first passengers to get on the plane, so I had a lot of space options. I do see it as a disaster if you arrive late and can't find any overhead space though!
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Unread 03-06-2010, 02:28 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

It all depends on whether you're one of the early boarders or not. If you board first you can take up the overhead bin before it gets full.

Fortunately Southwest has an "Early bird" check in option. When you purchase your tickets spend the extra $10 (each way) and opt for the early bird check in. 36 hours before the flight the airline will automatically check you in and you'll get either a high A boarding pass or worst case a low B. Either way there should be plenty of available space in the overheads for a basic hard case.

I've flown with everything from dreadnoughts to LPs in hard cases and never had a problem as long as I can board early.

Edit: Even if you've already bought your tickets you can still pay $20 and get the early bird option.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 02:40 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I don't want this to scare you at all.....

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Unread 03-06-2010, 03:15 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

It should fit in the overhead compartment. Most airlines allow instruments up to 44-48" in length, and a personal carry on item (small bag or laptop bag, etc.). I've taken two trips w/ my LP and both times it fit in every plane's overhead compartment. One flight there wasn't an open compartment near my seat, so they put it in the closet (which was within eye sight).

One flight tried to force me to gate check it, I said no way, they told me it wouldn't fit, I said there's no way I'm checking a $2k instrument, and that I'd make it fit. Needless to say, it fit just fine. I'd never trust checking the instrument. Don't let them force you to do it - read southwest's carry on policy, I bet it says something about instruments - print it out, and show it to the airline employees if they give you any hassle.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 03:16 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

From TSA website:
Carrying Instruments Through Screening Checkpoints
You may carry one (1) musical instrument in addition to 1 carry-on and 1 personal item through the screening checkpoint. This is a TSA Screening Policy. Airlines may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft. Please check with your airline before you arrive at the airport.

Security officers must x-ray or physically screen your instrument before it can be transported on an aircraft.

Security officers will handle musical instruments very carefully and will allow you to be as involved as possible in any physical screening.

If security officers cannot clear the instrument through the security checkpoint as a carry-on item, you should transport the instrument and checked baggage instead.

Instruments as Checked Baggage
You may bring musical instruments as checked baggage as long as they fit within the size and weight limitations of the airline you are taking.

We encourage you to stay with your instrument while security officers screen it to make sure it is repacked properly.

Owners should be present when an instrument is removed from its case for screening. For this reason, musicians are advised to add at least 30 minutes to the airline's recommended arrival window when checking their instrument.

If the checkpoint security people or the airline still give you crap, print this, show it to them and head on towards your flight with a huge grin
http://www.indie-music.com/downloads/AFM_carryon.pdf

I take a few trips to Miami and Dallas every year. I fly Spirit and American and they've never given me too much guff. It's usually the rocket scientists that sit on a stool and check my driver's license with blacklight, before the metal detectors, who are like, "I don't think they'll let you board wit dat". I just usually smile and say, "um, yeah, I'll take my chances". I'm a law enforcement officer and they give me less crap about the Glock 21 in my checked luggage. Over the past few years, I've brought one of my strats in an SKB flight case with TSA latches, a Fender acoustic in a tweed hard case, and my Taylor in it's huge 5/8 plywood case, and they all fit in the overhead compartent. Sometimes, you just have to get creative rearranging other people's stuff, and it helps to have that, "leave me the F**k alone" look
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Unread 03-06-2010, 03:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

It's a fender, man. Unbolt the neck and throw it in a backpack!
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Unread 03-06-2010, 04:58 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
It's a fender, man. Unbolt the neck and throw it in a backpack!
That actually might work...
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Unread 03-06-2010, 05:02 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

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Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
It's a fender, man. Unbolt the neck and throw it in a backpack!
Now that's thinking!
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Unread 03-06-2010, 05:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leumas View Post
It's a fender, man. Unbolt the neck and throw it in a backpack!
great idea.. 4 bolts-6 strings and ya done...if ya have locking tuners even better.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 05:42 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by jon1 View Post
In about a week i'm going to spend some time in florida for about 6 days. As i'm sure most of you know, 6 days is far too long to spend without a guitar. I will be flying on southwest airlines, which is generally one of the best as far as customer service and overall flight satisfaction.

I am planning to take one guitar, a strat (I wouldnt want anything to happen to my beloved LP, would I? ). I have been told that a flight case is the only way to go. On the other hand, I have also heard that a gig bag is much better as it is less conspicuous and takes up less room in the cabin. I will never check a guitar. I have heard too many bad stories. Apparently, flight attendants are more likely to be cooperative, if you have a thin gig-bag.

So, my real question is, has anyone flown on Southwest with a guitar and have you had good or bad experiences?
I carry mine with me every time I fly.
You ask to hang it in the closet for suits in the front of the plane.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 05:53 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Did you call them? If there's one thing SW knows - it's the configuration of their airplanes.
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Unread 03-06-2010, 06:15 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

You could always buy an extra seat.
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Unread 03-07-2010, 07:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I have. I used a gig bag and my guitar got on and off totally fine.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 06:41 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I have one of these and have never had a problem.

http://www.travelerguitar.com/
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Unread 06-24-2011, 06:46 AM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Couple things. You can usually get it on the plane without doing a regular check. The airline may do a "gate check" where you walk up to the plane and they take it from you then and there - no conveyor belts. You may be able to stash it in the crew closet or similar. You may be able to keep it with you in your seat or in the overhead.

I saw this a lot when I flew a couple months ago.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 07:42 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

i just recently flew from fl to baltimore on delta with a strat in a gigbag. i had no trouble getting it in an overhead and on one leg of the flight the hostess took my guitar and stored it up front. guitar arrived with no problems.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 07:54 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

They will let you take it on. I've done it before. Make sure you go online and check in exactly 24 hours before your flight you will get a better boarding position. You are trying to get A16.. A1-A15 is business select.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 08:03 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemply View Post
After landing I went to the GC in Miami and found a nice guitar, put it on the credit card, and the day before I left I returned said guitar for a full refund!

Thanks for the loaner GC!
Given, this is an old thread, but this is the absolutely most un-cool thing to do. What a turd.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 08:07 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

You can find out a great deal about the specific model of plane (seat configuration, storage, etc) used by the various airlines (your ticket will tell you the type of plane) and specific seats using seatguru.com It will tell you if which seat have better and worse storage, leg room, etc. It doesn't tell you if the overheads are the kind that have two doors per compartment (that are about 5 feet long with the thin vertical strip (between the doors) in the middle). I seem to see these on almost all planes bigger than the skinny commuter jets (like the Embraers). If your are one of the first folks in the plane, you should have no problem fitting it in - so long as the ground crew lets you on the plane with it.

With almost any of these life-riddles, so much depends upon successfully navigating past the people who are in a position to ruin your day (airline employees, security, thieves, etc). If you have status with the airline, use it. When you check in, make eye contact and refer to the person by name. Ask them how their day is going, etc. Same goes for the rocket scientists at TSA ("hey, how long did it take you to master that blacklight?") and the gate and cabin crews. If one of these people is having a bad day and you become the straw that breaks the camel's back, you will in turn have a bad day, too. Before you travel, clean out all the goodies in the compartment in your guitar case (old pups,wires, tools, cleaning solutions, etc), there is little doubt that the folks at TSA will be baffled by what they are and will consider them dangerous if allowed on an aircraft. Years ago, I was stopped by a security agent who was concerned about my extra laptop batteries and air/car charger/converter. He wanted to know why I needed to travel with them.

I like the idea of splitting the strat in to. You try it on yours first. That's how I breakdown my fly rod (split in two but keep it rigged) so I can go from one fishin' hole to another.

In the past when I have had to travel (domestically) with something very valuable like fly rods or guitars and needed to check them, I would have them in a road case marked as firearms and filled out the paperwork. You don't hear too many stories about airline or TSA personnel messing with passengers guns (in large part because they know that they are documented and that the real authorities will take an interest in their disappearance). I've travel led to many places in the US with firearms and never had a problem.

I'll be going on vacation with the family and plan to bring an LP, multi-effects pedal and headphones.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 08:19 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

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Unread 06-24-2011, 09:07 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Quote:
Originally Posted by allbusinessjoe View Post
I have one of these and have never had a problem.

http://www.travelerguitar.com/
Cool...and thanks so much for digging up this year old plus thread just to tell us!
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Unread 06-24-2011, 09:19 AM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Never a problem flying SW from California to Texas with my Strat. The case easily fits into the overhead, which is all SW cares about.

If I fly at a normally crowded time of day or week, I'll pay the extra ten bucks for Early Bird check-in which ensures you'll get an empty overhead somewhere along the fuselage. No worries.
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Unread 06-24-2011, 09:30 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

I've travelled with my R9 using SW Airlines, and did it two different ways. On both trips I used a flight case.

On the first trip I carried the guitar through security, and checked it at the gate. Worked great, with the only drawback being my tired arm and shoulder...the thing weighs about 45 lbs!

On the second trip I checked it. At the arrival airport it didn't come in on the luggage thing...they thought it was a firearm, and it was in the luggage office.

Guitar made it safely both times.

I used the 'early check in' option, and actually saw my guitars getting loaded both times as I was on the airplane.

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