Do you play a musical instrument? You have probably come across the need or desire to take your “dear friend” on an air trip. Check out some travel experiences and the recent rules of Brazilian airlines.

Have you ever traveled or intend to travel by airplane carrying the musical instrument? Unless you play the flute, cavaquinho, pandeiro or any other small instrument, it is good to know how to do it, because the question is a little more complicated.

If there were a general rule for all airlines, knowing how to behave would be easy. But, unfortunately, this does not happen. Many times the transport conditions for the instruments are not clear and, most of the time, we depend on the good humor, the interpretation of the moment and the good will of the airline employees.

Recently, British Airways prevented a cellist from boarding with her cello because she did not have a visa. “I advise all musicians to avoid British Airways. I will never fly with them again. That was what Jane Bevan, a cellist, said, after having been surprised to learn that she couldn’t travel with her instrument because it didn’t have a visa.

Jane, who was to fly from Zurich to Baltimore, had reserved a seat for her cello and had warned the airline that she would fly with it. But at the time of boarding, British Airways employees refused to let their instrument on board, saying that the reservation had been made for a passenger, not for a cello.

And in the absence of a visa for the instrument, they asked Jane to book another flight that cost more than 4,000 dollars and did not offer any reimbursement or compensation.

This was not the only complaint and a petition was made for British to change the rules of carriage. The fact is that there is no unit in these rules and the advice is always to make sure that episodes like this don’t turn your trip into a nightmare.

What Brazil’s airlines say

On its website, GOL informs you that:

It is allowed to board with musical instruments in the cabin, as long as they do not exceed 5 kg and the dimensions of the carry-on baggage allowance. Otherwise, the instrument should be checked.

It will be heavy and will enter the limit of the weight franchise that each customer can travel. The volume will be accepted only in rigid case, appropriate for the respective instrument.

LATAM defines similar transport rules on its website:

You can carry small musical instruments in the cabin, which do not exceed the carry-on baggage limits. They must be transported in their own cases.

Larger musical instruments or instruments that do not comply with the established measures for carry-on baggage must be carried in the cargo compartment.

Your instrument may be accommodated in the seat in accordance with the following conditions:

  • You must make an additional seat reservation in advance, at the same rate and class as your ticket, without the right to an additional checked baggage allowance.
  • The maximum permitted weight is 75 kg (on flights operated by LATAM Airlines Brasil or LATAM Airlines Paraguay, the maximum weight for carrying musical instruments in the cabin is 45 kg).


For the transportation of your cello, you must necessarily reserve an additional seat to accommodate it. Alternatively, the instrument can be transported as cargo. To reserve an additional seat for the instrument in the cabin, please contact the Sales, Loyalty and Service Center in advance.


To carry your guitar on board, it must be packed in a flexible case. If you have only one hard case, it should be carried in the load compartment.

Instruments are accepted as checked baggage as long as they do not exceed the size limit stipulated for the region. Larger instruments must be transported by LATAM Cargo. Whether as checked baggage or as carry-on baggage, we recommend, as a precautionary measure, that you take instruments in special containers for fragile elements. In the transport of luggage we are not responsible for any damage.

Small copies can be taken as carry-on baggage. Larger ones, however, must be carried in the hold of the aircraft or in an additional seat (purchased separately) within the passenger cabin.

Have you decided to board your precious guitar and now you are afraid they will break your instrument?

Damage to an instrument carried in the stowage is not just fear or fantasy. That does happen in real life.

An episode of instruments on the plane that has become well known is what happened to the American company United Airlines. The musician Dave Carroll, until then unknown, became quite famous for his songs in which he tells the story of his broken guitar. Seeking the positive side of the event, more recently, the musician managed to take advantage of the event by publishing a book as well.

Gary J. Carrion