Suspicious Guitar Case

May 30, 2010

in Luggage Stories

I had an afternoon flight from Denver, CO back to school in Massachusetts last Christmas break. I checked in with plenty of time, carrying on my laptop and guitar case. When I got to the gate to board the plane, the attendants told me that my boarding pass had not been properly stamped, and asked if I had somehow snuck through security. I told them no, but they did not let me onto the plane. They informed me that I would be a security threat if I was allowed to board. They had to call a TSA official from the security line to come check my bags “just to be sure” that I didn’t have any contraband.

An hour later, after the plane was long gone, a security person finally arrived, and didn’t even open my bag. She quickly opened the guitar case, which apparently appeared “suspicious,” and directed me to an office to reroute my flight. Once I found the office, I told the representative what had happened, and asked to take the next flight to Hartford, no matter where it connected. He wouldn’t let me. He claimed that since I already had a ticket that connected in Philadelphia, I would have to take the next flight through Philly, which didn’t leave until 10 pm. I told him this was unacceptable since the shuttles to my school ended at midnight, but he completely ignored me.

I finally got to Hartford at 1 am and spent the night in the airport waiting for the 7 am shuttle. In retrospect, it was pretty funny to be considered a security threat, but at the time it was absolutely unbelievable

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lon May 31, 2010 at 5:15 am

Why the heck are you bringing a guitar on a plane anyway? Serves you right….a guitar is NOT an essential item when going home for Christmas.


Thi Halpern January 4, 2013 at 8:24 am

Dude, you can't say that. In my case, my husband is a professional classical violinist. Just as a laptop is an essential tool for most business people, a violin is an essential tool for a professional classical violinist.


Dude May 31, 2010 at 7:16 am

Lon….perhaps he's studing, oh I don't know, music?? Perhaps he had a gig to play at while home for Christmas? Who may you the authority on what is essential or not? If it was my guitar, there's no fricken way I would check it…so I dont blame him on bit for carrying it on


Waldi May 31, 2010 at 7:32 am

Lon: How many times did you bring a small suitcase into cabin with non essential items? I am a musician who plays the violin for a living and NEVER would check it in. Considering how baggage handlers throw around your luggage and how expensive this instrument was. It is essential for me – my livelihood depends on it.


david May 31, 2010 at 8:21 am

a violin can go in as carry on since it is small, a guitar on the other hand is large and won't fit in the overhead compartment bins or under the seat in front of you (granted it may fit in the overhead but not if other people need to use it so that is why they have specifications in size-even though they dont really care unless they know there may be an issue)

if it is in a hard case with that protective inner (foam type thing) it should be fine


Cin Cin May 31, 2010 at 10:23 am

Waldi: Here's a story I found on this site about a violin:


david May 31, 2010 at 7:33 am

im curious, aren't the dimensions of a guitar case to big for carry on? i believe so


Jane May 31, 2010 at 8:32 am

They can fit in the upright closets near the front of the plane by the entrance–just as a pair of crutches would go for security and some flights allow people to hang jackets and garment bags in there.


david May 31, 2010 at 9:43 am

yeah but unless your flying business or first they dont allow passengers to use those closets


Dina May 31, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Sometimes they do if there's room. Also, I think it depends on the airline.


Laura May 31, 2010 at 6:00 pm

If it was a BC Rich Warlock it could count as "satanic paraphernalia"


crella May 31, 2010 at 6:18 pm

Never check an instrument! I play the alto sax, and it's in a very nice thickly-padded case, but in Detroit when it was opened for inspection the TSA guy tried to shove it back into the case slightly rotated, and bent two keys so badly it couldn't be played. Upon arrival I had to pay $140 to get it fixed. It's not only in the baggage hold that instruments can be damaged.


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