Southwest Airlines Guitar Policy

Discussion in 'Gibson Les Pauls' started by jon1, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. jon1

    jon1 Senior Member

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    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? :naughty:). 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?
     
  2. r9in09

    r9in09 Senior Member

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    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.
     
  3. Hemply

    Hemply Senior Member

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    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!:thumb:
     
  4. jon1

    jon1 Senior Member

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    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.
     
  5. lp_junkie

    lp_junkie Senior Member

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    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.
     
  6. jeggz

    jeggz Senior Member

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    buy an ernie ball silhouette....there made to fit in overheads
     
  7. BurstAddict

    BurstAddict Senior Member

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    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!
     
  8. BillB1960

    BillB1960 Senior Member

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    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.
     
  9. Dr_Blues

    Dr_Blues Senior Member

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    I don't want this to scare you at all..... :laugh2:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo]YouTube - United Breaks Guitars[/ame]
     
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  10. DarrellRocker

    DarrellRocker Senior Member

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    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.
     
  11. floyd84

    floyd84 V.I.P. Member

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    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 :D
    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 :D
     
  12. Leumas

    Leumas Senior Member

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    It's a fender, man. Unbolt the neck and throw it in a backpack! :laugh2:
     
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  13. jon1

    jon1 Senior Member

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    That actually might work...:hmm:
     
  14. kernelofwisdom

    kernelofwisdom V.I.P. Member

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    Now that's thinking! :dude:
     
  15. jeggz

    jeggz Senior Member

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    great idea.. 4 bolts-6 strings and ya done...if ya have locking tuners even better.
     
  16. AngryHatter

    AngryHatter Senior Member

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    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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  17. dubyatf

    dubyatf Senior Member

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    Did you call them? If there's one thing SW knows - it's the configuration of their airplanes.
     
  18. Sven

    Sven Senior Member

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    You could always buy an extra seat.
     
  19. essguitarman

    essguitarman Senior Member

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    I have. I used a gig bag and my guitar got on and off totally fine.
     
  20. allbusinessjoe

    allbusinessjoe Senior Member

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