News — Airline Travel
Tips For Flying With A Saxophone Or Other Musical Instrument
Flying With Instruments in the Era of the Sacred Overhead Bin
Traveling on airplanes with musical instruments can be a challenging situation if you're not prepared. Airline company policies are designed for the average traveler, not musicians with instruments. Fusion Bags decided to talk to a life-long road musician/bandleader who has become an expert in traveling with instruments on airplanes, saxophonist Deanna Bogart.
She's a true road warrior having logged thousands of miles over the past 35 years. She shares some tips that may be helpful whether you're a pro or part-timer, regardless of what instrument you play. She travels so much, both days we talked with her she was at an airport flying to gig.
Q: What are your major challenges when traveling by air with your instrument?
I've been traveling domestically and internationally for over thirty years. Overall, airlines are less musician friendly these days than they used to be and commuters are trying to cram more and more stuff into the overhead bins to avoid the extra baggage check in fees.
The days of the airplane closet are gone (except on some international flights) where many a horn, guitar etc., would fly happily amongst the first class garment bags. The sizes of the bins vary greatly from airplane to airplane so there's no consistency in the sizes of the overhead storage space. On top of that, airlines are trying to fill the seats with smaller planes and offer less space.
Q: What are some things you can recommend to musicians traveling with their instruments?
First off, the less bulky and more streamlined your case is the better. And what the case is made of - or reinforced with - needs to be protective but forgiving so as to allow other people's items to have some wiggle room for their luggage to slide against it or on top of it. If you bring a large flight case your less likely to find an open bin unless you are one of the first people on the plane. Even then, when gate agents see a large case they usually insist on hand-checking.