View Full Version : Flying with an ukulele...travel tips

03-06-2013, 07:42 AM
Hi everyone! We are getting ready to fly back to Korea, its about 24 hours in a plane. I have a new premium Kanile'a concert uke that I'll be carrying on with me, it's my first time flying with a uke. I imagine there are two main threats to the uke while flying, lack of humidity and impacts. So I have an Oasis uke humidifier and an Oahu hardshell case. I'll probably need to have the humidifier in a ziplock to go thru security, but once cleared I'll take it back out of the baggie. What else can I do to ensure my uke makes it safe and sound? Are there any other things to consider?

All you old hats at travelling with ukes, please pass along your wisdom and experiences, I would greatly appreciate it. :) Many thanks!

03-06-2013, 08:04 AM
I've flow with mine many times, and honestly have done nothing that special. I almost always carry it on, and when I do I've literally done nothing but be keep it in a hard case. Once, my only option was to check it, so I brought a less expensive uke and packed it on the center of a large bag with clothing all around it. Both worked fine, though I'd never check my nicer instruments.

03-06-2013, 08:07 AM
Be sure to review your airline's carryon rules.

Most count your instrument as one bag, but will accomodate an instrument with no problem.

I took my soprano on a flight as one of my two bags and had no problem at all.

Happy travels

hawaii 50
03-06-2013, 08:09 AM
I have flown many times with a uke in the overhead..but only 5/6 hour flights..i don't think you have to worry too much about your uke drying out in 24 hours..

the main thing is having it in a safe spot in the overhead..ask MGM he knows all that stuff.

did you get the uke from him at The Ukulele Site(aka HMS) ?

Dan Uke
03-06-2013, 08:13 AM
Nothing to worry...Enjoy your flight back and why don't you bring your uke next time you go to a noraebang!! LOL

03-06-2013, 08:53 AM
I have yet to be on a flight where the overhead bin wasn't big enough for a uke. I recently flew a small prop plane on a quick hop, and even that had enough overhead space for a uke!

03-06-2013, 09:20 AM
I use Oasis humidifiers at home, but I've avoided using them on planes for fear that the change in air pressure in the cabin might cause them to leak. It's unlikely (fountain pens, on the other hand, leak like newborn babies), but for my relatively short flights (6 hours is my longest flight with an ukulele so far) I haven't worried about humidity.

03-06-2013, 09:50 AM
As long as the Oasis is not completely full at takeoff it won't be a problem as the pressure decreases.

ukuLily Mars
03-06-2013, 12:10 PM
You could fill up the humidifier after you clear Security. That way you don't need to keep it in your ziplock bag. And not filling it completely is a good idea.

I have flown with my Dolphin quite a bit, and I sometimes put it (in its case) in my checked bag... because it's a Dolphin. However, I have carried it on a couple times and have had no problem. I use a Uke Crazy case and it has been fine. On my last international flight, I was able to fit the case comfortably in front of my carry-on in the overhead compartment, and the carry-on bag held it in place (I secured it a little so it wouldn't fall out if someone opened the compartment). That's with a soprano, but if you have a smaller carry-on bag than I had (which is very likely, as this was a very long trip) you could probably something similar, depending on your case.

My advice would be to streamline the rest of your carry-on baggage. The less you are carrying in addition to your 'uke, the better. Also be friendly to the gate and flight attendants! My last trip, I got to chatting with a little boy who was interested in my case (he plays violin, so he wanted to know about my instrument), and both his mom and the flight attendants were glad he was distracted. No way they were going to give me a hard time about my case!

What airline are you flying? The full-service airlines, which are becoming rare, are generally more supportive. Some of the Asian airlines are the best.

03-06-2013, 12:45 PM
Nope, even if the Oasis isn't filled up, you need to have it in the ZipLock bag--TSA is curious about the *gel beads* inside there in addition to the fluid. TSA guys on the Big Island (KOA airport) didn't understand what the Oasis humidifier was and it threw 'em for a loop. Keep it in the ZipLock not in your case when going through security.

ukuLily Mars
03-06-2013, 12:52 PM
Nope, even if the Oasis isn't filled up, you need to have it in the ZipLock bag--TSA is curious about the *gel beads* inside there in addition to the fluid. TSA guys on the Big Island (KOA airport) didn't understand what the Oasis humidifier was and it threw 'em for a loop. Keep it in the ZipLock not in your case when going through security.

Oops.. forgot it was gel beads. Thank you.

03-06-2013, 01:57 PM
Thanks everyone. Some replies: I got the uke from HMS, we are flying Delta (I don't like them, Korean Air is best), noraebang is too debaucherous an environment for this uke (although it would be fun with a cheaper uke!), I'm always nice to the cabin crews especially on the asian airlines ; ), we are travelling with a 2 year old so minimizing carry-ons is a never-ending challenge but we try.

The only thing I need to try to rectify is my full Oasis, I just filled it up last night not thinking about the cabin pressure. I'll probably displace some of the gel beads trying to empty out some fluid, but its better than it exploding all over my uke.

Thanks everyone for the input and pointers!

03-06-2013, 02:13 PM
Some of the Asian airlines are the best.

Thanks everyone. Some replies: I got the uke from HMS, we are flying Delta (I don't like them, Korean Air is best)
Thanks everyone for the input and pointers!

Just a question for you...I had heard of an incident where Korean Air refused to allow a uke as a carryon. I have traveled with my tenor uke with no problems on Hawaiian, Delta, Southwest, etc.

But I was going on a trip to Japan and Korea this summer, and was going to leave my uke at home since I did not want to check it. My flight to Tokyo and from Seoul are both on Hawaiian, so I knew those flights should be okay. But the one from Tokyo to Seoul is on Korean. Have either of you (or anyone else) taken a tenor uke as a carryon on Korean? I don't have any other carryon, just a tote bag.

03-06-2013, 03:50 PM
the humidifier dont worry about i just came back from korea with my ukes and did not have a problem if they open it up and ask what the thing is just tell them its a humidifier they will be cool about im sure u dont need to zip lock it what i did was de tuned my strings cause i was just nervous of it snapping from being way up in the air but agian never had a problem gettin in and out plus peepz usually just say thats cool instument have a safe flight to korea

03-08-2013, 03:55 AM
Made it back safely, super exhausted though. Uke is fine and had no trouble from Delta or JAL with carrying it on, no one even asked about it. Can't speak for Korean Air as I've never taken a uke with them. Since I'm now planning on traveling with my uke everywhere I go, and we primarily use Korean Air, I will certainly call before our next trip!

03-08-2013, 03:57 AM
Good to hear

03-08-2013, 11:52 AM
To answer your question about impact, I wouldn't worry too much about it since you have an Oasis case for your uke. Make sure it fits snugly though. If there is any free space around the body of the uke or if the neck isn't well-supported, you can always use pieces of foam or balled up newspaper to ensure a tight fit. Actually, even it it's a snug fit I would still recommend balling up some newspaper to go under the headstock to minimize the risk of anything happening, should the case get dropped accidentally. I had a student who dropped his guitar, which was inside an ill-fitting hardshell case, down a flight of stairs and the neck cracked (almost snapped actually) because the case didn't support the neck very well.

03-08-2013, 02:23 PM
In addition to the points made re humidifier, a good Hard case, one should check their airlines web site re transporting a musical instruments...most say ok for a small carry on such as an ukulele.

Air Canada suggests that the strings on a stringed instrument should be loosened...I always take this precaution.
See below....
Air Canada Packing instructions:
When a stringed instrument is transported by air, it may be exposed to dramatic changes in temperature and pressure, which can cause the instrumentís headstocks to crack or snap off. To prevent possible damage, it is the customerís responsibility to ensure that the strings are loosened so that the tension is reduced.
Air Canada is not liable for damage caused by failure to properly prepare a musical instrument for travel.
When transported as checked baggage, musical items must be properly packaged in a rigid and/or hard shell container specifically designed for shipping such items.
Musical instruments as carry-on baggage:

03-14-2013, 12:09 AM
Perhaps a stupid question, but here goes...

When traveling with your ukulele, do you put a humidifier in the case? And if so, where do you put it so that it won't bang the instrument?
I read that some put it near the headstock, but how to keep it in place (?) so that if you bump into someone or the case falls, the humidifier won't be all over the place scratching the ukulele?
Thanks your input.