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Keep Your Gear Safe, even When Airlines Won’t!
In light of recent events, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about keeping your gear safe while travelling. A man was recently travelling with Delta Airlines, and was not allowed to have his classic 1965 Gibson ES-335 guitar on board as carry-on luggage, which he had never had a problem doing in the past. He even offered to pay for an extra seat just to keep his guitar safe, but he was refused. He ultimately checked his guitar as luggage and boarded the plane.
The trouble began as he was waiting for his guitar following his flight. He was told not to worry, and that it would be fine. While this was being said, he could hear a “crunching” sound near a freight elevator, and there was his guitar, jammed between the service elevator and a loading dock rail. He estimated at the time that there was nearly $2,000 in damages, but Delta only offered to reimburse him a total of $1,000, which he refused.
Luckily, this man has since been reimbursed for the cost of the repairs (and two vouchers for future air travel with Delta), although his guitar will never be the same again. It will never be a classic because it needs so many repairs. Gibson also heard about his plight, and sent him a brand new guitar, a 50th anniversary edition of the one that was damaged. Kudos to Gibson for being a company that cares about its customers.
This man is one of the lucky ones. There are so many other musicians out there who’s gear is being damaged or destroyed with little to no compensation, and much of this destruction is totally needless.
Tips for Flying with Your Guitar
If you are travelling with your gear, make sure that it is well-packed. If you are travelling with expensive gear such as this guitar was, make sure that you have it in good quality cases. A gig bag for a guitar just isn’t going to cut it. Sure, it may keep the guitar from getting scratched up, but it won’t keep it from getting broken or crushed. Here are some more tips to keep in mind when you are flying with your guitar:
Stuff your case with cloth – Old tee-shirts, towels, etc. stuffed around the guitar in the case work great, and don’t cost anything. Bubble wrap can also be helpful if it’s available. If there are any empty spaces in your case, stuff them, making sure to have plenty of stuffing around the neck and headstock.
Do your research – Before travelling, find out which airlines allow guitars and other instruments as carry-on luggage and which ones do not. It may be that it is worth more to use a more expensive airline if it means that your gear is going to be safer.
Buy a travel guitar – If you don’t need to take your best gear with you, think about buying a less expensive travel guitar. That way you won’t be so worried during your travels, and if anything does happen to it you can replace it for a smaller cost than it would be to replace a collectible guitar.
Use a shipping company – It may be an extra expense, but if you really want your gear to be safe, send it through a courier company. They will take better care of it than airlines will, and you won’t be chewing your fingernails off worrying about your gear. Make sure to buy the insurance. It is an extra charge, but well worth it.