View Full Version : will a tenor uke fit in the overhead bin?

01-14-2012, 09:33 AM
I'm wondering if a tenor uke in a hard case fits easily in the overhead bin on most airlines. Anyone have experiences with this?

I'd love to hear about them.


01-14-2012, 09:34 AM
I'm interested in the responses to this question too. With any luck I may snag a tenor when I'm on the Big Island next week.

01-14-2012, 10:01 AM
H there,

Mine did on two different planes this holiday with south african airways. Both of the planes were smaller air taxi types. I noticed that the air conditioning unit ran along under the bottom of the overhead bins and my case felt quite cold to the touch. But it was a short trip and doubt the uke itself even felt the temp change.

I took my Kala Tenor in a tweed hard case and it fitted easily along with my backpack. I usually have it between my legs if I can get away with it but these times I was in the emergency exit seat and the crew won't let you store baggage on the floor in that row.

Hope this helps


01-14-2012, 10:02 AM
I've got a couple of the Ko'olau hardcases for my tenors. I've taken trips with them to California from Illinois, and trips to hawaii from Illinois, and I've always carried them on and put them in the overhead bins. They fit just fine.

01-14-2012, 10:17 AM
I've carried my Sceptre in a Oahu hard case on full sized airlines with no problem. I've had my Fluke tenor in the Fluke hard case, and it fir in both the full size, and the Bombardier commuter airline overhead bins. (These were all United/United affiliate flights).

Keep in mind, you want to get to the bin first, put the uke case in, and then put another bag in front of it - watch out for the jackasses who carry oversized bags and try to jam them into the bin - they will invariably either smash your case, OR pull your case out to fit their luggage, at which point you need to complain LOUDLY to the jackass and call the flight attendant.

On one flight, another passenger was about to try and smash his bag in, when the flight attendant (who I'd been speaking with moments before) stopped him, told him he was about to damage another passenger's musical instrument, and that he'd have to either find another spot, or gate check his bag. I thanked her profusely, and she shrugged, saying "It's a ukulele - can't have that get damaged."

I really liked that flight attendant! (And I have to say, 99.99% of the United Flight attendants are great - Just remember to treat them as you would like to be treated.)


01-14-2012, 10:55 AM
It does fit. On a recent trip from Maui to Cali., I tied a soprano to a concert, then to a tenor, all in their own cases of course. Made it to be one carry on.
On another note, there was a discussion once about additional carry ons and the uke. Someone referenced a letter from TSA allowing an instrument as an additional piece not counted towards the 2 piece limit. But it is depends on each airline if they would allow it. American Airlines won't allow it......catch 22, TSA says it's OKAY, Airlines says NO.
Bring your ukes on vacation, it's fun.............................BO................ .....

01-14-2012, 11:08 AM
I traveled with both a soprano and a baritone uke on a recent trip to Hawaii - carried them both on and both fit nicely in the overhead compartment.

01-14-2012, 11:50 AM
I don't normally trust in the overhead bin, hard case or not. I've always just held mine in my hand and no ones ever given my problems with it. Mind you these have all been small domestic flights though..

01-14-2012, 11:52 AM
Awesome! Glad to know it's hassle free to travel with one. :)

Ken Middleton
01-14-2012, 12:42 PM
Awesome! Glad to know it's hassle free to travel with one. :)

It is not hassle free to travel with one.

I travel a lot to festivals. On long haul flights they are often reluctant to let you carry a uke on board. I have given up asking. Now I just put mine in the hold. Much easier and probably safer too.

By the way, if you have a pick-up fitted with a battery inside the uke, take it out. If the battery gets loose it can damage the bracing of your uke. This hasn't happened to me, but James Hill damaged one of his ukes this way.

01-14-2012, 12:44 PM
Thanks for the quick and thorough responses. Looks like I'll be flying with my tenor!

01-14-2012, 01:24 PM
Good luck with your travel. Now that they charge extra for checked baggage, more people are using the carry on sizes for their trip, filling up much needed uke storage. Some planes have enough room under the seat in front of you, and if you are traveling with someone (so you are taking up two seats), you can protect it better in that location (where nobody can try and force another bag on top of it).


01-14-2012, 02:07 PM
Last summer we had the baggage handlers on a tentative strike and everyone had carry on, so much so that they ran out of overhead space and they made whoever didn't have room to check them in. ARGH!

I'd be scared checking in an expensive uke with the airlines. Hey Ken, did you just have your ukes in their hard cases or did you box them as well? I'll be sure to pack a roll of duct tape with me to the airport just in case they make me check in my uke when I come back from HI this summer.

Colonel Uke
01-14-2012, 02:08 PM
I spent about 10 months on the road last year traveling for business, always with my baritone uke in a hard, uke crazy case. It fit in all the overheads of all the planes I traveled on, but you do need to get it in first. It's not like a soft suitcase, backpack, or purse that you can squeeze in. Do not put a uke in a soft gig bag in an overhead. The other passengers will not care what is like you do, it will get flattened. The one time I did travel with a soft case, I was able to sweet talk the flight attendant into putting in the small coat closet near the door (typically where the Crew's coats are placed.) I've sat in many hotel lobby's at night just strumming away. No one's usually there, it beats playing alone in the room, and the front desk staff usually don't mind the company.

01-14-2012, 03:29 PM
Now that they charge extra for checked baggage, more people are using the carry on sizes for their trip, filling up much needed uke storage.
I used to travel a lot between Burbank and SFO for meetings. These "commuter" flights were usually packed with business people, all with maximum carry-on luggage. Some would get really miffed when they were forced to gate check their carry-ons because the overheads were already full.

So, try to be one of the earlier boarders. If the airport uses jetways (those large tubular things you walk thru to enter the plane), they board from the rear to the front, so get a seat toward the back or at least behind the wing. Smaller planes in smaller airports that don't use jetways usually board from the center out if they use roll-up stairs on both ends.

OTOH, I once flew LAX-Orlando. BIG plane, major vacation destination, lots of families with kids, most planning to stay long enough to pack suitcases and check them as baggage. The overheads were pretty much empty.

Do not put a uke in a soft gig bag in an overhead. The other passengers will not care what is like you do, it will get flattened.
Yeah, the last thing you want is someone piling heavy stuff on top of it. But if you can jockey the situation and get it at the top of the pile...

Back in the day, I actually bought a SoloEtte travel guitar (http://soloette.com/) for those nights I was away and stuck in a hotel. Now I'm thinking that soprano Risa stick looks really cool and it could just go in your overnight bag. :)

01-14-2012, 03:47 PM
I saw someone put a Strat in an overhead bin once, so a tenor shouldn't be a problem except on very small planes. I usually just bring my Flea if I'm flying anywhere, because I can stuff it into overhead-friendly duffel bag. It's actually worked out fine in just the gig bag in the overhead bin too. This is when it pays to be among the last people to board. You'll get to throw your uke on top of other peoples' stuff. :B

01-14-2012, 07:42 PM
Thanks for all your comments...with any luck I' ll have a new tenor safely tucked in the overhead bin when I return from Hawaii in a couple of weeks.

mr moonlight
01-14-2012, 09:31 PM
I've traveled quite a bit with my tenor and I just use a gig bag. I either stuck it in over head at the end if I see a good safe spot (90% of the time) or I just stuck it under the seat. Never had an issue. Airlines are usually very good about instruments, just try an board early. If there's no space in overhead there's also the flight crew closets and behind the last row of seats. If you sit close to the back that's a good option.

Ken Middleton
01-14-2012, 09:41 PM
I'd be scared checking in an expensive uke with the airlines. Hey Ken, did you just have your ukes in their hard cases or did you box them as well?

Your fellow Canadian, James Hill, put his ukes in the hold in their cases, so do some other performers. Sometimes I just put them through in their hard cases, sometimes with my other luggage in my case. I know you may see some baggage handlers throwing cases around (they have to do the job quickly), I can't imagine many would want to damage a musical instrument.

mr moonlight
01-15-2012, 03:47 AM
Almost every tenor uke that is made in Hawaii and is sent to the mainland goes in a cardboard box in an aeroplane, most custom ukes are sent all over the planet in cardboard boxes, often they are in transit for two or more weeks, going through Customs Stores, post offices, shipping depots etc. A few don't make it and get sent back for repairs, but most arrive safely. They don't get carried on board and put in an overhead locker, they just go in the hold with the rest of the mail. Probably every tenor that is sold some distance from where it was made has been sent on an aeroplane in a cardboard box. Sometimes I think a cardboard box is better than a hard case because there is no illusion of strength in the cardboard and most people will take more care with a cardboard box than a seemingly bullet proof hard case.
I don't think it's just that handlers don't think cardboard has the illusion of strength, a cardboard box with a uke wrapped in bubble wrap is safer than most cases. The cardboard absorbs impact and the bubble wrap makes for a really flexible and soft landing. If the uke is in a case inside the box it's even better. The problem with checking in a cardboard box is that you have to keep that box and packing material for the whole trip. Definitely a very good option though.

01-15-2012, 04:21 AM
On a recent trip to Hawaii carried my tenor and either stored in the over head or you can ask the attendant to put in the coat closet when you first get on the plane. Ukes take very little room in that closet.

Coconut Willie
01-16-2012, 09:04 AM
Yes, mine fit no problem. Flew on United. Make sure your uke is in a hard case as it will get banged around by other carry on suitcases.