Here are my ‘top secret tricks’ for getting guitars safely on airplanes without having to pay for extra baggage fees – and how to get your precious cargo ON the plane, and not down under with the other luggage.

I’m on an airplane right now and have my ’08 Slash Les Paul with me (valued at around 4K), safely stored in the on-board closet 😀 (and I didn’t have to pay a cent to take it on board!)

After spending some time in Vancouver with family and old friends, it’s time to fly to San Diego, California!

Yup. Headed to SD for some sun, a work-cation, a conference, and to meet up with some friends.

I’m actually going to meet up with my friend Eddy of “Eddy Money” – (yup, same name, different people).

Ya! The rockstar that did the song “Take me home tonight”!

Anyways, more on that in the next email 😉 Stay tuned.

So I’ve got some great tips for you next time you travel on an airplane.

When I toured with Rev Theory, I’ll never forget gulping as I watched my LP heading down the conveyer belt… 😮

Not a good feeling… anyways, I’ve travelled a ton on airplanes with guitars so I think I’ve got some good tips for you.

So first of all, the big key word is “GATE CHECK”.

This will allow you to bring the guitar right to the door of the plane.

The concept is this: You leave your ‘gate-checked luggage’ there, a guy comes up, grabs it, and takes it down to the plane.

(more tips on this in a second)

But just knowing this key word and understanding this process will help you a ton at the front counter to get your guitar safely to the gate without having to pay.

But you know what I do? And what I did today?

I actually don’t even mention my guitar at the front counter.. I just set the guitar down and checked my bag, and got my boarding pass.

Hiding guitars in plain sight 😀

Yeah, that’s actually what I’m saying – hide your guitar from the people at the front counter lol

I usually already have too much stuff, so having an extra bag (a guitar) will make the front counter people extra mad haha

Ok, so now you’re heading to the gate with your carry-on and your guitar…

When I get to my departure gate, I ask to get a “gate check tag” there. They hand these things out like candy – they don’t even flinch. It’s super easy.

So that’s how you get your guitar safely to the plane with no extra fees.

As mentioned, an airport luggage guy will come up to the gate, grab your guitar and put it on the plane.

And you can wait and chat with the guy that does the gate checked luggage. I’ll often ask them to “please please be careful with this…it’s really expensive and it’s my baby!”. They’re usually understanding and will give you some reassurance.

And hey, ain’t nothing wrong with passing this guy a $5 bill. Why not? 🙂

Oh, and they say to loosen your strings a bit so there’s less tension on the neck. So in case it does get knocked or bumped then the guitar will get less of a shock.

Now – let’s get that guitar ON the plane and NOT under the plane treated like all the other luggage.

Yup, let’s try to NOT get the guitar gate checked.

What I ALWAYS do is walk on the plane with my guitar.


Planes almost always have a closet on board and that’s what you ask when you step on the plane.

“I was told I might be able to put my guitar in a closet or an overhead bin?”.

Air Canada and West Jet are the only companies I’ve seen that don’t have an on-board closet. But all the big ol’ jet air liners (see what I did there?) – Delta, American Airlines, United etc… they all have on-board closets.

So if the flight attendant rejects your request, then boo-hoo, our guitars get gate checked… and I’ve never had any issues with this, but of course it’s ideal to have your guitar on board in a closet than down under with the other luggage.

Anyways, I’m writing this email on the plane now and my guitar is safely stowed in it’s soft case in a closet at the front of the plane.

Good to go 🙂

Keep on rippin’ it up

Will “big ol’ jet airliner” Ripley

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