Travelling with saxophone

Several saxophone players asked me about my experience of travelling by plane with my saxophone. Their concerns are legit, because policies by airplane companies are still not adapted to musicians with instruments.

Travelling all over Europe and abroad in the past couple of years, I never really had problems when bringing my saxophone though, but I was prepared. Your saxophone will always be bigger than the measurements given for hand luggage, but my instrument (I.e. soprano, alto and tenor sax) fitted in most of the overhead bins. Let me talk you through some things you should check before travelling with your saxophone.

First of all, a flight case for your saxophone does come in handy, because it is less bulky and more streamlined than the regular ones. Your saxophone will immediately look smaller and will draw less attention. Tip: I always wear my saxophone on my back and sometimes put a coat or pull-over over my shoulder so they do not really notice the tenor saxophone on my back and thus reducing the chance of flight attendants to ask me to hand check my saxophone (so far, I have never had any questions about my saxophone).

If they do ask you to hand check your saxophone, be polite and try to explain that your instrument is very valuable and that you have never seen a bin it does not fit in and that you will bring it back if it would not fit a bin.

That said, try to get on the plane early so you know there is bin space available. If it is not possible to board early and there is little bin space remaining, stay calm and ask some of your fellow travellers if they would mind to hand check their luggage so you could save your valuable instrument from being “destroyed” while being hand checked.

I was never asked to hand check my instrument but if it happens, try to hand your instrument personally to the baggage handlers so you can stress how important your saxophone is to you and that it is a fragile instrument.

So in a nutshell: always be polite and friendly no matter the situation you encounter. You and your saxophone will be just fine.

Safe travels!

By JeroenVanbever