Taking a guitar on the pland-Delta

Is a guitar considered a personal item or a carry on bag? In other words... 1 guitar and no luggage, or 1 guitar and one carry on? Anybody have real life experience with this? We've brought the guitar before(its' a cheap one) but that was prior to all the increased restrictions. I can't seem to get this answer from the airlines, and it seems to be based on the whim of the airline personnel at the time.

Posted by Kate
505 posts

From the Delta website:

"Guitars and other smaller musical instruments, such as violins, will be accepted as your free carry-on baggage on Delta operated flights1. These items must easily fit in the overhead compartment or approved stowage location in the cabin, on a space available basis at the time of boarding. If adequate space is not available, the item must be checked." (Footnote saying this is not true for trips to and from the UK, though I know that UK security will allow musical instruments to go through regardless of size as long as they can inspect them)
Thus, it looks like it counts as your carry on (so I guess you get the one personal item unless you are going through or from the UK). However you should be prepared to check it, so it should be something that you could live with if it was damaged unless you are willing to buy an extra ticket for it.


Posted by Linda
Portland, OR, USA
389 posts

Leah, hopefully it can be your carry-on. My brother bought a $6000 guitar here and when he got to the Delta counter they said it must be checked. I thought he might walk to Tennessee. It is really about how much space they have on-board. If you have the option of getting on early (frequent flyer, traveling with children, handicapped) you have more space than the last person on.

Posted by Al
Nottingham, UK
658 posts

I work for a UK airline - this is our point of view. If the guitar can be stored in the overhead bins or under the seat - it's classed as carry on luggage provided no other luggage is also being used as carry on. If it won't go in the overhead bins or under the seat it's got to go in the hold. If it's a very expensive musical instrument and a passenger wants to have it travel in the passenger compartment it can be placed in the seat next to the passenger. The passenger is required to purchase a ticket ( in the name of Mr A GUITAR ) at a child rate for the guitar. A lot of famous musicians go down that route. In this instance as in so many cases - size does matter.

Posted by Leah
jacksonville, FL, USA
46 posts

Thanks Al! I spoke to the airline directly, and they don't feel this will be a problem. There is still an issue of "space available", and they recommend using a soft case. So... at the last minute if there is no space available, we will wish we used the hard case if we have to check it. They did mention that since it is summer, the coat closet will likely be empty. We will cross our fingers and take the cheaper guitar.

Posted by Tricia
Niceville, FL, USA
154 posts

Hello, If it's a small plane and you curbside check it... tip the baggage guy to becareful with it. At least curbside checking you know it's on the plane.