I'm trying to fly to Kunming from South Korea and am having LOTS of trouble finding an airline that will accept my custom, handmade guitar as carry-on.
Has anyone else had this problem and found a solution??? I'm even considering sending it snail mail (and hopefully tracked) just so it doesn't need to be under the plane..or buying it a damn ticket...
I have never seen a guitar as hand baggage.
You are taking a much bigger risk shipping it by snail mail. And snail mail to Kunming can take 8-10 weeks. This will be another source of stress for you, just waiting. And it is more likely to end up at the bottom of a pile.
Most Chinese airlines now ask if the item is fragile, and put a label on it. This implies that fragile items are being handled differently. Not just thrown at the bottom of the cargo container. And in reality, it will be South Korean baggage handlers who load the plane.
If the instrument is in a proper guitar transit case, it should be fine. Certainly safer than snail mail.
I've flown at least three times on Chinese domestic flights with my guitar as carry-on. When I check in I just hold up the guitar (a heavy-ass Les Paul in a hard case) and say I'm gonna take it on the plane, and I've never had any trouble with the ticket agent or the security people. If you board relatively early there'll be plenty of space in the overhead compartment.
It's always been a gamble, and I've locked the case and pasted the address on it just in case, but whether through luck or some policy I've always been able to take it on the plane. Anyway, I agree with the previous poster. If you're not so lucky, then with these precautions—lock the case and paste the address and phone on it—checking it should be okay.
I just use padded hard shells. The airlines beat the hell out of luggage - but the guitar has always travelled well (make sure you lock it). Abuse on a hard shell is obvious - although getting a chinese airline (or any airline) to pay for obvious abuse is futile. US law essentially states you can sue for negligence (obvious abuse) - 3x damages + punitive (hence the plethora of nuisance lawsuits). China sits on the other end of the spectrum - and remember - even if you win a lawsuit - China doesn't really have a mature collection or enforcement structure.
thanks for the advice guys! i think i may just buy a ticket for it (no customer service reps are saying a 'yes' to guitar carry-ons). i'm moving there so i've got a lot of stuff..plus my guitar is a custom martin (yeah i'm no django..was given to me as heirloom type gift from my uncle..my thought was why have it just sitting in a closet at my moms house..but now regretting it). i was given specific instructions not to check it..i assume les pauls and other electrics are much more durable and can withstand the temperature extremes a lot better. i'm afraid the temperatures under the cabin will warp the precision craftsmanship. plus i don't have the lock for the case..extra worry. was thinking non-air mail because of the temperature extremes. well, if you guys have any other pieces of advice, i'd appreciate it!
They have crapy guitars here in Kunming. Bring yours!
If it'll fit in an overhead bin, get one early and place it in the one closest your seat. My experience was sad... I was bringing a new one for my step-daughter. Stu's could find no up-right bin wide enough, so it went overhead. Unfortunately not close. In the rush to deplane someone pulled out a briefcase from below... it fell on the floor after striking the passenger below. No one bothered to pick it up, they just walked on it; some ran their pull-on luggage over the soft cased unit and I could not get out of my widow seat because the aisle-guy refused. No yelling helped! The flight was loaded, and we were amid-ships on a 737. This was a few years back on Yunnan Air - the days when passengers rushed from their seats before the wheels smoked the tarmac, grabbed their stuff letting the bin-doors hang open & blocked the aisles completely all the way to the gate.
The guitar was non-repairable even in China at prices then. I admit a hard case would have helped, but all the way from the US Stu's had taken care of the unit in closets on the 747. The daughter never learned to play any guitar, nor to play tennis, though I got her a nice racquet - so 8-years later she's older, the broken guitar and tennis gear is ready for trash or Salvation Army pick-up back here in USA!
We have booked flights with Air China. (First domestic and then an international connection.) I would appreciate any advice on how to travel with my guitar. It’s a Yahama APX 500II and not a big guitar. I have a pretty solid travel bag for it but am considering to buy a hard case. Not sure if they’ll allow it as carry on... Thanks!