Whether you’re permanently moving to a new place or have a gig in another town, you need to make sure your keyboard piano survives the flight and reaches your destination in one piece.
So it’s important to understand airline policies regarding musical instruments, whether your piano is going to be a carry-on or a part of your luggage, and so on.
In this article we’ll give you the essential info you need to fly like a pro with your portable keyboard.
What Are the Major Airlines’ Policies for Transporting Piano Keyboards?
Generally, you need to disclose that you will be carrying a musical instrument with you at least 24 hours before your flight or at the time of booking. There is no additional charge involved as long as it’s a part of your free checked baggage allowance. If the piano is in addition to the free luggage, you will have to pay the extra luggage fee.
Your musical instrument should weigh between a maximum of 23-45 kg and fit within the following dimensions: 75” x 29.5” x 25.5”.
If the keyboard is within the weight limit and size allowed for carry-on luggage, then it doesn’t need to be checked in. For keyboards that exceed the limitations for both carry-on and checked-in luggage, they must be couriered separately. This may be done either through the airline’s own cargo service, or, if the airline doesn’t have any such policy, you will need to use some other service, such as FedEx.
What’s the Best Way to take my Keyboard through a TSA Checkpoint?
Airport security officers may need to physically inspect your instrument or pass it through an X-ray machine. If your instrument has some delicate parts that need to be handled carefully, let the officer know before the check. It may also undergo an explosives test.
In order to ensure that your instrument passes through the TSA checkpoint without any damage, it is best for you to stay close by while the check is ongoing. If you’ve locked the piano case, make sure that you unlock it before getting to the TSA checkpoint to avoid holding up the line. The lock should be TSA-recognized; otherwise, it will have to be destroyed, which may damage your instrument case.
The best thing to do is pack your portable keyboard in a hard-shelled case, designed to survive all kinds of usage including in the baggage cabin of an airplane. Include written instructions with your checked-in bag so that it is handled properly (such as a sticker label that says ‘fragile’).
What Are the Best Cases for Traveling With a Piano Keyboard?
A good travel case can be quite expensive but also necessary if you want to avoid damaging your keyboard in any way. In addition to a hard-shell case, it is also a good idea to have a soft one if you have many gigs in the same city. You’ll probably be lugging your piano around on the subway or on the bus and a soft case will make your load lighter.
The best piano case will:
- Have a padded base and sides.
- Protect your instrument from dust, water, etc.
- Keep your instrument from being damaged by extreme pressure or sudden impact.
- Be easy to carry (e.g. equipped with adjustable straps).
- Ideally have additional pockets for other accessories.
Although a number of brands provide many good cases, here are some popular instrument cases on the market:
- Gator Padded Case Gig Bag- the padded body of the bag makes it ideal for travel purposes.
- Gator Case for Keyboards with Lock & Wheels – this one is quite expensive, but the TAS-approved locks and wheels make it perfect for getting you through airport security and makes travelling with a piano a breeze.
You can check both these cases out on Amazon:
There are plenty of options to choose from that cover most price ranges. Look for something that is durable and has all the necessary features and you won’t need to get a new bag any time soon.
How Do I Pack a Piano Keyboard So It Doesn’t Get Damaged In-Flight?
First off, you’ll need a heavy duty road case for your keyboard piano. Once you insert your piano in the case, there will be some empty spaces. You can pad these up with foam or save up on luggage space and use socks or other clothes to line the inside of your piano case. Some people also recommend wrapping the keyboard in bubble wrap to protect it from harm.
If you have a digital, battery-operated piano, remove the batteries and place them in your carry-on (most airlines require you to keep all items such as batteries and power banks in your hand carry).
Instrument cases are usually searched before a flight, so make sure you’ve packed is such that the check is swift and doesn’t bother the people behind you.
What Are the Best Videos for Learning How to Pack My Piano Keyboard?
Here are some visual guides to help you pack your portable keyboard properly so that it doesn’t suffer from any wear and tear on the plane (or on a ship if the instrument is not allowed onboard):
Ideally, it is recommended that if you’re permanently moving to a new location, it’s better to just sell your old piano and get a new one once you’ve settled in. However, if you have a really great keyboard that you’re comfortable using, then just take the necessary precautions and you and your keyboard will be fine. Make sure you have the right bag, the right packing method and information about the airline’s policy for musical instruments and your keyboard will survive the flight.