Canadian guitar pro Kevin Ramessar took a flight from Toronto in June 2017 with Canadian Airlines. It was not the first time: nine years he took his classical Stonebridge-guitar on a plane. As usual, Kevin prepared his guitar and he lowered the string tension, to prevent neck tension in the cargo space, and he checked in the guitar in a strong plastic guitar case, with fragile stickers on it.
Opening his case after the flight he had a nasty surprise: its neck had snapped quite badly. Canadian Airlines proposed to give him $1.500,- for liability, which was about half of his guitar’s worth. Read more in this article on CBC and Kevin’s Twitter page.
Don Ross went on a plane of United Airlines back in 2015 from Munich, Germany. The overhead baggage compartments were full. The guitar went as special luggage. He made sure it was safe inside a carbon fibre case (worth $1.500 by itself).
At the next stop, Don discovered his custom made guitar was actually heavily damaged. By the damage it was visible that the guitar must have been taken out of the case and dropped, see the photo for yourself and Don’s Facebook post. The top was completely cracked.
During a layover in Chicago in 2008 a fellow passenger of songwriter Dave Carroll noticed how baggage was carelessly thrown during cargo loading.
And indeed, not much later, Dave discovered his $3.500 Taylor was severely damaged. After filing multiple claims to the airlines, there was zero compensation. In his frustration he wrote a protest song about his experience called “United Breaks Guitars”, that soon became a hit song on Youtube. Within the first few days, United Airlines shares went down $180 million. Beaten down United then offered him $3,000 in compensation and the Taylor company gifted him 2 guitars. Read about this history on this wikipedia page.
Enjoy the song and don’t forget that every musician needs a proper guitar case as basic flight preparation!