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Protecting Your Instrument While Flying

You know you've made it when you're flying in an airplane from show to show. But with that distinguished mode of transportation comes new things you need to be aware of in order to ensure your instrument stays in constant playing condition. Mainly, are you going to need a case or gig bag to protect your instrument?

Before picking one out though, there are a few things you should keep in mind. The first thing is carry-on versus checked bags. If you want to keep a close eye on your instrument during travel, you'll definitely want to carry it on and a gig bag should usually suffice. If you trust the airline to check it for you, you should invest in a more durable case, just to give it that added protection it will need. Just remember, if you check your instrument as baggage, you're still often liable for any damage so make sure your case is extra heavy-duty in terms of impact cushioning.

Next, you need to consider the weight of your instrument and case. If you plan to carry-on your instrument, there are often restrictions you must adhere to. Same goes for checked cases, as overly heavy bags often lead to extra charges. As well, if you are a smaller musician, you don't want to be lugging a large instrument all around the airport either, so make sure you can support its weight yourself throughout the travel.

If you do choose to carry on your instrument, double check the accessories you have. Some may not be permitted on the flight, like key oil or screwdrivers, so make sure those are packed away with your other checked baggage if you are concerned about them. It's better to be safe and not have them confiscated, especially right before a performance.

As well, think about how delicate your instrument is. If it has a number of external keys, like saxophones do, maybe invest in key clamps to keep them tight to the body, reducing the chance of damage. You may also want to invest in a case with more padding too, just to give it that added protection.

Finally, if you have an airline you regularly travel with, you should continuously check out their regulations as they are constantly changing throughout the industry. Knowing the weight and size limits for a carry-on (as well as how many carry-ons or checked bags you can have) will definitely come in handy, making sure there are no surprises just as you are about to catch a flight.


If you decide to purchase a case or gig bag from Woodwind & Brasswind, you'll be happy to know that all products are backed by The Woodwind & Brasswind's hassle free 45-day return policy. It promises that you'll love the instrument or accessories you choose or your money back *. Because all we care about is helping find the equipment you need to make your music.

* All returned woodwind and brass instruments incur a $10.00 sanitization fee.

Los Angeles based freelance saxophonist Greg Vail is among the most versatile woodwind players on the west coast. His work in jazz, pop and contemporary gospel music spans over 30-years. Greg maintains an active digital presence at www.gregvail.com.

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Greg Vail

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