Can I bring a piano keyboard on a plane?

Yes, according to the TSA. But, when you bring a keyboard on a plane or in checked luggage, it must go through x-ray screening in security. If you are carrying the keyboard on a plane, you may be asked to open the case and show its contents. You cannot have any liquids in your instrument case. Airlines have unique carry-on rules and weight limits, so check with your specific airline’s baggage requirements before boarding a plane.

Musicians travel a lot and play their instrument every day, so airlines should accommodate either bringing your instrument on a plane or in checked baggage. But, don’t assume that this is the case. Double-check the airline requirements to save you some headache down the line.

Consider taking the keyboard out of the bag before moving through airport security. This will save you some time scrambling if the TSA agent asks you to open the bag after getting through security.

Delta Carry On Instructions for Piano Keyboards and Musical Instruments

Delta Airlines allows passengers to bring piano keyboards on a plane, as checked baggage, or in their own seat.

To pass checked baggage, the height, width, and length of your instrument must not exceed 150 inches or 381 centimeters. The weight of the case must be 165 pounds (75 kilograms) or less.

If you purchase a ticket to put your keyboard in its own seat, you have to follow several requirements:

  • Must be 165 pounds or less
  • Cannot obscure smoking signs, seatbelt signs, or emergency exits
  • Must be next to the owner or in the same cabin
  • Must contain no dangerous goods

If you want to carry on your piano keyboard, it must fit into the top compartments comfortably. Carry on musical instruments are typically smaller, like guitars, flutes, clarinets, and saxophones. You may be able to carry on small keyboards, but larger ones won’t be able to fit in the overhead compartment.

Southwest Airlines Carry On Instructions for Piano Keyboards and Musical Instruments

Like with Delta Airlines, piano keyboards and musical instruments cannot be carried on via checked luggage if the length, width, and height exceed 150 inches. Also, the weight of the instrument including the case must be 165 pounds or less.

At Southwest, the max size of carry on items is 10″x16″x24″. If your keyboard or musical instrument is larger than this, however, you can still carry it on board. The instrument must fit in the overhead bin and there must be space for it when you come on board.

Southwest also allows passengers to purchase a seat for their piano keyboard or musical instrument under a few conditions:

  • The musical instrument must be in the first row of the cabin
  • The musical instrument must be as close to the window as possible
  • You must purchase a ticket in advance and reserve a seat for the instrument. Free seating or promotions do not apply to seats for musical instruments. They must be paid for in full.
  • The musical instrument cannot block seatbelt, smoking, or warning signage.
  • The musical instrument cannot block emergency exits.

Note: Southwest is not liable for damage to musical instruments stored in a soft or flimsy case.

American Airlines Carry On Instructions for Piano Keyboards and Musical Instruments

At American Airlines, your piano keyboard can be carried on or checked in. The piano keyboard must fit under the seat in front of you or in the overhead bin. Chances are your keyboard won’t fit under the seat, so you’ll have to find space in the overhead compartment.

Like the other airlines, you can purchase a seat for your instrument if it doesn’t fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment. You can purchase a seat if:

  • It costs the same as an adult seat
  • It is not in an emergency exit row
  • It is next to you

Like with Delta Airlines and Southwest, you can transport your musical instrument via checked luggage.

Size requirement: 150 inches or less (length + width + height)

Weight requirement: 165 pounds or less

Note: American Airlines is only liable for damage to your instrument if its in a hard sided case and the damage is visible. Pack your instrument in a hard sided case to save you a potential headache in the future.

United Airlines Carry On Instructions for Piano Keyboards and Musical Instruments

United Airlines recommends that passengers pack their piano keyboards and musical instruments in a hard case. You can carry on your musical instrument if it is small enough to fit under the seat or in the overhead bin. A standard 61 key keyboard will probably need an additional seat.

You can check your instrument in as checked baggage but you may be charged if:

  • Your instrument is between 63-115 inches (length + width + height)
  • Your instrument is 50+ pounds
  • You’re checking in two items or more.

Tips for Flying with a Piano Keyboard as a Carry On

Invest in a hard carrying case.

Airlines won’t typically require you to pack your instrument in a hard case. But, many won’t cover damage to the instrument if it’s in a soft case.

Also, if you travel often, a hard case is pretty much essential. The instrument will move around and come into contact with other luggage, but a hard case will prevent most damage. Hard cases are significantly more expensive than soft cases. Most hard cases are around $200 – $300 for 61 key keyboards and $300 or more for 88 key keyboards.

So if you don’t travel often, a soft case with durable materials will work well for you.

Note: Most piano keyboards will likely need to be checked luggage, not carried on, due to their size. So it’s even more important to invest in a durable case.

Pack a separate soft case for easier travel once you’re at your destination.

Pack your instrument in a hard case for travel and put your soft instrument case in your checked luggage. That way, when you arrive at your destination, you don’t have to carry around your instrument in a bulky hard case. It’ll make travel much easier.

Read up on your airline’s carry-on rules and regulations.

Major airlines’ requirements are pretty standardized in terms of size and weight limits for carry-on musical instruments. Most airlines allow musical instruments to be carried on the plane or as checked luggage. But some rules and regulations may vary, especially cost.

So, be sure to research your airline’s carry-on rules before arriving at the airport with your piano keyboard or musical instrument.

Weigh your keyboard before getting to the airport.

Most major airlines have a weight limit for checked luggage at 165 pounds. Carry on weight limits vary but they tend to be around 50 pounds. Weigh your keyboard in advance so you can figure out if its eligible to carry on.

Consider shipping your instrument instead of carrying it on a plane.

If you can’t carry your instrument on board, you might consider shipping it to the destination. Whether you ship or transport your instrument as checked luggage, you run the risk of damage en route to your destination. But, if you choose a reliable company to ship your instrument at an affordable rate, like FedEx, this may be a good option for you.

Bring accessories like an amp, keyboard stand, cables, and whatever else you need.

You don’t want to have to buy new accessories for your keyboard when you arrive at your destination. Be sure to bring all the accessories you need to power and play your instrument.

Don’t pack liquids in your case. They won’t make it past TSA.

With a piano keyboard, you’re not dealing with liquids. That being said, don’t put any liquids in your case. TSA agents will ask you to empty the liquid before boarding the plane.

Put some fragile stickers on your keyboard case.

Fragile stickers are not required, but it’s highly recommended for piano keyboards or other fragile instruments. Most piano keyboards will have soft side cases, but you can pick a case with durable materials to keep your instrument protected.

Best Piano Keyboard Cases

The most popular keyboard cases are softside which are not as durable as hardside cases. But the soft cases are built with durable fabric and padding that will keep your keyboard protected from damage during travel.

Check out these three soft cases and a hard case for your piano keyboard.

The QEES 61 Key Keyboard Case is a durable and portable case for your piano keyboard. Made of 600D oxford fabric, the case is heavily padded to keep your keyboard nicely protected. The front pocket has enough room for music pedals, books, cables, and other accessories.

The bag is exceptionally lightweight at just 8.8 ounces or about half a pound. This makes it incredibly easy to carry through the airport, on a plane, and to gigs and performances once you’ve arrived at your destination.

Check out the QEES 61 Key Keyboard Case at the Amazon button below.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

This 61 Key Piano Keyboard Case padded with 5 mm of dense fabric to keep your keyboard in place while you’re on the go. The outer material on the case is durable Oxford fabric that is waterproof and dustproof. It’s resistant to spills and keeps dirt and debris out.

The adjustable shoulder strap makes for comfortable travel. You can fit everything you need with your keyboard in the case itself. Toss your pedal and cables in the front accessory pocket, making transport easy.

Check out this 61 key piano keyboard case at the button below.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

The Donner 61 key keyboard case is heavy duty and lightweight. At just two and a half pounds, you won’t have trouble carrying this case around with your keyboard. It’s made of a durable 600D Oxford fabric. Also, the inside is coated with 10mm of padding to ensure your keyboard is safe and sound.

The zippers are durable so you won’t have to worry about them breaking just a few days after your purchase. The comfortable shoulder strap makes traveling with your keyboard hassle-free.

Like the case above, this one is waterproof and dustproof, which makes it so easy to clean.

Purchase your 61 key Donner keyboard case at the Amazon link below.

Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Piano Keyboard Cases Buyer’s Guide

What material is your case made of?

Look for durable 600D or 900D fabric, a case with 5-10mm of interior padding or more, or invest in a hard carrying case. 600D measures the thickness of the fabric used to make your piano keyboard case. The higher the number, the thicker the fabric.

Thicker fabric will help keep your keyboard safe when you move it around in the airport and in transit.

Is it waterproof and dustproof?

Waterproof and dustproof cases make the outside of your piano keyboard case easy to clean. Not only that, but they lock out dust and water from entering the case and damaging your keyboard. So, look for a waterproof and dustproof case when shopping.

Does your keyboard fit?

Keyboards come in many different sizes. The most common keyboards are 88 keys (a full grand piano) or 61 keys. Also common are 49 key and 76 key keyboards.

Make sure to purchase a piano keyboard that fits the size that you own. If your keyboard has 61 keys, look for a 61 key keyboard.

Is there enough room in the side compartments?

Most keyboards have side compartments to store accessories like cables, pedals, chargers, and the like. Make sure your piano keyboard case has enough room to store what you need to bring before you pull the trigger.

How durable are the zippers and straps?

Durable zippers and shoulder straps are always a plus. If you travel often, then this is even more important. You don’t want to buy your keyboard and have the straps or zippers break just a few weeks later.

Are the shoulder straps adjustable?

An adjustable shoulder strap ensures that you travel with your piano keyboard case comfortably. Most shoulder straps are universal. But if you’re pretty short or tall, make sure that your shoulder strap can adjust.

Most piano keyboard cases today have adjustable shoulder straps, but read the product description and look at pictures to make sure.

What is the warranty?

No product is perfect. It’s important for you to know if you can return a piano keyboard case if something breaks. Zippers, straps, and other small parts on your keyboard case are prone to damage.

If those break, you want to be able to get that fixed at little to no cost. So, be sure to check on the warranty for your piano keyboard case.

Does the keyboard case have interior padding?

5 millimeters to 10 millimeters of interior padding is great. It protects your keyboard from getting dents or dings while sitting in checked luggage.

How heavy is the case?

Soft keyboard cases range anywhere from half a pound to a few pounds. Hard keyboard cases can weigh up to 50 pounds or more, and that’s without your keyboard in it!

So, if you are looking to purchase a hard case, remember that although they protect your keyboard wonderfully, they are quite bulky.

Recap

That wraps up our guide on bringing piano keyboards on a plane. You can bring a keyboard on a plane or in checked baggage. Be sure to check with your airline to confirm this.

It’s important to invest in a case that will protect your keyboard. Going a little expensive is worth it here, especially if you travel often. Today, softside cases are built with durable fabric and are quite affordable. But if you have the budget for a $200+ hard piano keyboard case, they are the best at protecting your piano keyboard.

Thanks for reading! If you liked this article, check out more of our ‘Can I bring’ series below.

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