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Flying with Rack, Guitar and other Gear
Old 22nd January 2013
Here for the gear
🎧 5 years
Flying with Rack, Guitar and other Gear

Hi everyone,

Having done a few searches on the forum, wanted to hear the collective wisdom on flying internationally with rack gear lately... regulations have changed and are becoming stricter, as you know.
(Sorry if I posted this on the Remote Possibilites ... forum, but I realized that maybe it isn't the right place for this)

I need to do gigs in Europe (for now, Finland and Italy, both flying from NY) with a laptop, audio interface, 4U of rack gear, 6 or 7 guitar pedals, 2 midi pedalboards, cables, my guitar and a little backup gear.

So my thinking thus far is as follows:

1) I would NOT use a freight forwarder. Why? First because it means being without the gear for too long before the gig, and secondly because once you reach your destination, you have less control than with an airline over where the gear winds up if there is a delay/error.

2) I would plan to carry-on laptop plus a 2U rack unit (as to the case for them see below).

3) I would check my guitar in its Anvil case at the gate (i.e., not checked as regular luggage).

4) I would check everything else as luggage: wisdom indicates I should forget rack cases or pedalboard cases (I have SKB and Pedaltrain hardcases for both uses, but am not confident they would fair well enough with baggage handlers). Instead I would pack each remaining piece individually in foam and/or cardboard boxes and put them INSIDE one or two large Pelican or SKB shipping cases (maybe with wheels). BTW, I will probably build a temporary pedalboard on site to avoid shipping a 32" board.

Does anyone have any comments on this plan? Any suggestions as to the actual types of cases?

As to the carry-on, note that airlines like SAS (which I will almost certainly need to fly with) have a carry-on weight restriction of only 8Kgs (17.6 lbs). That means the carry-on case would have to very light (roughly 8 lbs because my rack unit alone weight 10 lbs)! Maybe a soft case?

Any thoughts as to shipping cases? I am checking weight/size restrictions. The gig will be picking up shipping costs up to $600 each way.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated!


Old 23rd January 2013
Lives for gear
🎧 5 years
Good plan for the guitar.

You may encounter problems with the 2U rack unit as a carry on. New York may allow it but other major international airports may not. A friend of mine had major problems carrying on a few guitar pedals because "the pedals contained some components used in bombs." I'm not sure whats true in that story other than my friend, not the most prepared traveler, was hassled enough to tell a story about it.

By freight forwarder do you mean UPS of Fed Ex? If so, you'll pay an arm and a leg but you'll also pay an arm and a leg to check 2 Pelican Flight Cases through the airline. I believe there is a weight limit of 75 pounds for checked luggage and fees are all over the place. With UPS you can at least insure everything. Personally, I would ship everything UPS and take as little on the plane as possible. Outside of the laptop and the guitar every item you are taking will be viewed as suspicious; how suspicious is anyones guess.

My experience is limited in terms of types of gear but I've traveled with my guitar around the U.S, the Middle East, and Europe so I know how they approach "unique" carry ons and such. Most of the time things go fine but be prepared for problems.

Good luck and let us know what you decide and how it all turns out!
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