Home Harps Hammered Dulcimers Strings Ordering Support About Us Blog Forum

Carrying dulcimers onto airplanes


Has anyone flown with their hammered dulcimer recently? I’m gathering information about the recently revised rules for musical instruments as airplane carry-ons and wondering if anyone has practical experience to contribute. Theoretically, you should now be able to carry an instrument onto a plane even if it’s larger than the standard allowed carry-on size, provided it fits in an overhead bin and there is available space at the time you board the plane. So I’m curious if anyone has tried this in recent months. If so, what size instrument was it, did it fit in the bin, and did you have any trouble with the airline employees letting you carry it on? Any tips you have to share or experiences with non-dulcimers would be welcome too!


I have flown with a classical guitar. I could not always take it carry on. The best thing is to invest in a good sturdy travel case. Of course, the case may cost as much as the instrument itself, especially if you travel with your knockabout instrument. The main things to look for are a good fit that prevents the instrument from moving inside the case but does not put any extra pressure anywhere, a rigid shell that will not be compressed by a ton of luggage on top, and secure hasps and hinges that can’t pop open accidentally. Most airlines try to pack instruments in protected spots, but you never know. And it will likely get dropped, kicked, or otherwise knocked about. Probably not on purpose, but just because it happens. But if you have a good case, and loosen strings to reduce the stress on the soundboard, it should be fine. My guitar survived unharmed not only the airline, but being tossed about from boat to boat in the Bearing Sea in winter.


I fly with my Rizzetta/Blanton Travel Chromatic (built to fit in the overhead bin) quite often. I had Colorado Case Co. make me a soft case with inside pockets for the tri-stander legs. I crafted a 3-D cover from Foam Core Board that fits over the strings & bridges for air travel.

I fly Southwest, get in the earliest boarding group and get a seat midway back and put the case up. No problems!

Steve Eulberg


(Karen Ashbrook is the one who showed me the Foam-Core cover idea)


Steve, I don’t suppose you have a handily-accessible photo of the foam core cover, do you? I can’t quite picture what it would look like.


I learned a long time ago that the regulations depend on who you talk to. Most of the airline personnel can’t keep up with actual regulation changes, so unless you carry a document that cites the regulation and its number, you’re at their mercy. You can be told one thing at the ticket counter and another at the gate and a third thing by the flight attendants.So I always just check my instruments as “oversize baggage” and pay the fee. The instruments travel separately from regular baggage (assuming the baggage personnel are paying attention - you have to keep an eye on them!) and you pick it up at a different place, not on the carousel. I pack my instruments in hard cases by Colorado Case Company, but there are other case builders that make flight cases as well.


Sorry it took so long, but here are the photos of the foam-core board cover I use on my dulcimer in my soft-shell case when flying with it. Here is the first one.


2nd image


Here is the 3rd photo


Thanks for the photos! It looks like the foam core adds a little more structure and stiffness to the soft case. I can see how that would help guard against any knocks to the bridges.