It’s bad enough remembering how much lotion, potion, or product you can bring on board without making airport security screenings even more stressful. So you really don’t want to have doubts about your equipment–where it is and how it’s handling the flight.

Well, if you’ve been crossing your fingers or praying as your favorite guitar thudded onto the conveyor belt behind check-in, here’s some really good news: According to a new U.S. Department of Transportation ruling, you can bring your guitar on board with you!

You can take it with you …

Before the ruling, which went into effect in March, guidelines for carrying on instruments were up to the individual carriers, and airlines were only required to allow instruments as checked baggage or carry-on baggage (not both). The new ruling clarified that, as long as certain conditions are met, passengers are allowed to carry an instrument on board.

Still, a few caveats:

  • Your equipment will be x-rayed or physically screened at security.
  • Your case needs to fit into the overhead bin.
  • And know that if you don’t get to a bin before they’re all full… your case may still be checked.

The ruling indicates that your case won’t get special consideration over other carry-on bags, but it can’t be removed in favor of other bags, even “if the space taken by the musical instrument could accommodate one or more other carry-on items.”

… but it may cost

Make sure you’re good to go. Before traveling, check the dimensions of your guitar case and call the airlines to make sure your case meets the overhead bin requirements. Typically airline bins are between 50” to 55” long. To be sure, you may want to pay for priority boarding to ensure you have access to an empty bin.

Find out more

The Transportation Department has more information on traveling with musical equipment, including tips on Flying with a Musical Instrument.

And if you really enjoy tiny print, take a look at the official ruling, which includes background on the decision.

We’ll have more to say about traveling with your guitars in upcoming posts; after all, keeping your instrument safe is why we’re here. Sign up to receive our newsletter or subscribe to our RSS feed.

Photocredit: Benson Kua