Did United Break Your Guitar? Taylor Can Help!

Posted by Michael Mueller on July 22, 2009 at 9:51 AM

By now many of you—just over 3.5 million of you, actually—have seen Dave Carroll's viral video "United Breaks Guitars," a song that chronicles his horrible experience of having his Taylor acoustic guitar broken during the luggage handling process at United Airlines. To be fair, United is not the only airline that simply doesn't understand the fragility of musical instruments, but unfortunately for them, they broke the wrong guitar. (Story continues below video)

Well, as a musician who has travelled with a guitar and knows countless other guitarists who have fought nervous stomachs and elevated heart rates worried about their prized axe just 10 feet below in the cargo hold, it was nice to see Taylor Guitars respond to the story. 

To address the hazards commercial airlines pose to travelling with a guitar, Taylor Guitars has posted tips and tricks to keep your guitar safe as you travel. What many musicians don't realize is that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) came to an agreement to allow guitars to be considered as carry-on luggage in 2003. Click here to read the TSA's guidelines on transporting musical instruments. Meanwhile, with advice from the AFM, here's a few tips Taylor Guitars recommends:

Know the pertinent policies of the airline on which you are traveling. There are links to many of them on the AFM website, so print them out and take them with you. Many flight attendants do not know their own airline's policy regarding carry-on guitars, so if you can calmly explain that your instrument is within their mandated guidelines, and actually show them those guidelines, you will be way ahead of the game.

Know your instrument's size in linear inches, which is the sum of your case's dimensions. If, for example, your case measures 20 inches long by 20 inches wide by 10 inches high, it would be 50 linear inches. Almost all airline maximum size dimensions use either Length-by-Width-by-Height, or linear inches. In many cases, even though your instrument case does not fit in the "size wise" metal contraption at the gate, it might well be within the linear-inch maximum. Again, know the linear inch measurement of your case beforehand.

Carry a "fabric" tape measure with you. Even if you never use it, sewing-type tape measure takes up almost no space and weighs almost nothing. And it might just come in handy if you're challenged about your case dimensions.

Here's Taylor's video response to Dave Carroll's brilliant ditty and sad story:

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