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So I'll be on a 12-hour flight next month and will be bringing my JTV-89F Variax with me. I have a hardshell case with TSA lock so I'm thinking of loosening the strings and bubble wrapping the guitar until it's snug inside the case, and then I'll check it in. Or I could use the soft gig bag, hand carry it with me and politely ask one of the flight attendants to stow it for me.

Has anyone here brought their Variax on a flight? If so, hand carried or checked? Either way, what did you do to the lithium battery, left in the unit or removed? I've heard about the new restrictions on carrying lithium batteries and I'd like to know how you guys actually did it. Thanks!

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I haven't done it recently (in a few months) but I have taken my Variax as a carry on many times. Never took the battery out, never loosened the strings. Never had a problem. Was typically flying Southwest within the US.

 

Did bring it to Canada one time as well. Security on my trip back thought the inner workings looked really cool. Let me through without a problem.

 

The soft gig bag fits well into most overhead bins all the way to the back, allowing someone else to also out in a larger bag in front of it. Never got any complaints from other passengers that it took up too much room.

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Different airlines have different rules about instruments as carry-ons. It shouldn't be a problem taking it in a soft case, but it's best to call ahead. I have taken a Strat in one of the SKB/Fender TSA cases, and it was fine. Those cases are pretty rugged. I didn't use bubble wrap or anything like that. As far as loosening the strings, there are different schools of thought. I don't feel strongly either way, but I tend to lean towards the view that says guitar necks are designed to be under tension, so shipping while under tension is not really any more risky than shipping them without. I've probably shipped several dozen guitars in my life, and I've never loosened the string before doing it. Again, I know some people think otherwise, and they have their reasons. I say whatever you're comfortable with is fine.

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Awesome. Thanks for your comments, guys. I think I'll loosen the strings just to be on the safe side because I'm leaning more towards checking the guitar in its hard case. I have plenty of time to retune afterwards although doing it on a Floyd Rose is a bit of a pain. Re lithium battery, I've been advised to just leave it in but inform the airline about it. 

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Good point about calling ahead.  The FAA does have a ruling that instruments can be carried on, however anyone watching the news knows that not all airlines or the personnel behind the desk or boarding the aircraft got the message.  In my area everything flying is a biz jet with little to no overhead stowage.

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I travel with JTVs all the time. I just flew to buenos aires with a customized JTV 69 in a mono gig bag. I am exec platinum on american but still makes sure I am one of the first on the plane so as to have space in the closets. On bigger planes like 767 and 777 guitars do NOT fit in overheads. Getting on before the masses can make a difference. I actually use the JTV 69 as a "beater" variax as my xplants are significantly more expensive and harder to replace. In worst case if they had to gate check, unless handlers were real gorillas, I think it would survive ok in the mono bag.

 

When flying other airlines I will often use hard case and check the "beater" etc. I will be flying dominican republic to bogota, to costa rica to Jamaica, and back to DR in November and will need to take one of my main transplants as the "beater" is in desperate need of a set up and I will only be home for a day before that trip. I will either take my tele transplant in SKB hard case and try to carry on, with gate check as backup, or use a hard sided gator gig bag with my les paul style xplant. I think worst case the les paul in that bag could survive a gate check.

 

Key points are travel same airline whenever possible to be considered a very good customer. Try to board plane first to make sure there is room for the guitar.

 

Good luck!

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