Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy

Adam Rafferty Tour Diary 11/15/08 – Guitar Air Travel Tactics

1 Comment

Alternative title to this post could be “Shame on You Airlines!!!”

Let me start by saying that if you have any brilliant ideas about traveling with acoustic guitars, I  am all ears.  I am sitting in the Prague airport, still a little perplexed, as I write.  Luckily I am here with guitars which are all in one piece and did not go broke getting them here.

Just when I think I’ve got the “flying with a guitar dilemma” licked, the ever evolving chess game between the dark forces of the airlines and us good guys (musicians) takes an unexpected twist.

I did everything by the book.  I loosened the strings, bubble packed the neck within the hard shell case, and as I have written in an earlier post – I then pack  the case in my travel case, like a good acoustic guitar student should. 🙂

I know many guitarists just show up to the gate either with a hard shell or a gig bag – and this is Russian roulette.  God forbid they tell you is has to be checked, you are in trouble – or maybe you just don’t take the flight.

This tour was pretty extensive – so I traveled with 2 acoustics, and an electric.  So, all in all thats:

2 acoustics in road cases  (playing solo, one needs a backup axe)
1 Electric in a soft case (fits in overhead)
Laptop & Gear case

Guess what?  The fun started when Swiss International Air charged $200 for taking a 3rd luggage piece getting out of the gates in NYC.   That’s just one way, folks.


And flying from Koln to Prague – I had paid for 3 luggage pieces online ahead of time – but basically that just gave me the “privilege” of dividing my 23 kilo allotment across 3 bags.  

Why must there always be surprises? At the counter I was told it would be 140 euros.  But fear not – a creative solution came…

It did not take long to figure this out –

$200 NYC to Europe
$200 approx (140 eur) Koln to Prague
$200 Europe back to NYC


That would be $600 for this tour alone if I just took my lumps and handed my credit card across the counter.  And guess what – I’m coming back to Europe in the Spring…another $400 – $600.  That could amount to $1000 or more – just to shlep a backup guitar 2 times that I almost never play.

And The Solution Is…

First off, I twisted their arm to let me take a hard shell in the cabin, and left a road case with my friend in Koln. Having another person there to pass gear off to was key!

So friends – the solution is (drum roll, please) I will be leaving lots of gear here across the pond.  Actually, guitarist and instructor Stefan Grossman put the idea in my mind so kudos to him – park guitars and other equipment junk in Europe, and travel light.  

So, a Taylor, a Yamaha Electric (Killer axe – I bought 2) and maybe a boss multi-efffects board will stay here.  I just can’t bear to pay the offensive B.S. money they want to charge.

Assuming my guitars foster parents will humidify it regularly, I should be in good shape.

I’d rather buy more guitars with the money I save.  🙂


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

One thought on “Adam Rafferty Tour Diary 11/15/08 – Guitar Air Travel Tactics

  1. Heh, you wanna park any equipment down this end of the world (New Zealand) I promise to love and humidify it regularly 😉

    Not a bad solution though – my heart is always slightly in my mouth when I travel with a guitar. The worst I’ve suffered is a multi-effects dropped from enough of a height to shear all the screws on one side panel.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s