View Full Version : Uke on a plane

02-15-2014, 09:41 AM
This may sound silly but here goes. I will be travelling soon and want to take my uke with me. (Kamaka Tenor) Can I bring it on the plane as a carry on or does it need to be checked as baggage?

02-15-2014, 10:45 AM
YES YOU CAN!!!! I traveled with mine for my first time last week. I was very nervous. You know thinking people are looking at me like I got a machine gun in the case or something like that. I was pleasantly surprised that at least half the TSA agents I passed by knew what it was just by the case it was in. One of them asked what kind it was and how long I had been playing. I even had my homemade humidifier inside it that I actually meant to leave behind because is vinyl tubing with a wetted spong and a piece of 550 paracord tied to it to remove it easier. I thought for sure it would look like a stick of dynomite on the xray!

I did a lot of searching before I took mine and one thing I learned from that is if there is not room for your uke in the overhead bin then nicely ask a stewardess if it could be put in the crew closet. I did not have to do this as my concert uke found room each way on the planes.

02-15-2014, 01:07 PM
Carryon! The flight attendants are glad they don't have to fit the big old guitar case.

hawaii 50
02-15-2014, 01:36 PM
It is a law now...that you can take musical instruments on the plane with you even if not a Kamaka :)
but just carry it on don't ask any questions...sometimes airlines folk with no idea will tell you no, for no other reason than they can...

ask no questions just act like you know what you are doing....

my 2 cents

02-15-2014, 01:41 PM
I did a lot of searching before I took mine and one thing I learned from that is if there is not room for your uke in the overhead bin then nicely ask a stewardess if it could be put in the crew closet.
Yes, you can carry on a uke, but it's based on space available, so there is never a guarantee.

If you're on a long-haul flight to a vacation destination, odds are a lot of the passengers are staying a few days and will be checking larger suitcases. If you're on a commuter flight with lots of business people who all bring their overnight bags and laptops on board, then the overhead bin space fills up quickly and people can be forced to gate check what otherwise qualifies as carry-on. I ran into this a lot when I was flying from Burbank to San Fran and back for meetings. People would get really upset that they had to check their allowed carry-ons. But when the bins are full, they're full, no matter what's "allowed" or not.

Best thing is to pick a seat that boards early. Most airports use jetways and board from the back to the front, so a seat in the rear means you get first crack at the overheads.

Burbank doesn't use jetways (at least the last time I flew, which has admittedly been over ten years) and boards from the center out, with stairs at both ends of the plane. In that case, a seat toward the middle of the plane would be your best bet.

And if you're flying Southwest with no assigned seating, get there early so you can be in the first third to board.

hawaii 50
02-15-2014, 01:46 PM
I have flown between Hawaii and California with a uke about 25 times....no problems....it counts as one of your two carry ons...

02-15-2014, 07:40 PM
This topic comes up every so often and I try repost the following post I made a couple of years ago. I have a unique insight into this topic. Hope this helps:

As an Airline Pilot based in Honolulu I couldn't resist adding my 2 cents. I bring my Kala travel uke with me EVERYWHERE. I often jumpseat on airlines other then my own so I have lots of experience in this area. Here is my advice:
1 - NEVER, EVER check or gate check your ukulele - NEVER
2- TSA - The rules state that you can carry on one instrument in addition to your carry on and personal item. They don't always know the rules, they are poorly trained and are performing an unskilled task for a meanial amount. Therefor you can surmise the level of employee they recruite. Arguing does no good, simply ask to speak to their supervisor and tell them to refer to TSA.gov website section pertaining to: Transporting Musical Instruments, then politly explain the rules.
3 - Kindness and niceness go along way, however the gate agent (the person who collects the tickets) is your biggest obstacle. If the gate agent attempts to make you gate check your uke tell her, "I carry it on all the time, if it doesn't fit I would be happy to gate check it", however don't forget rule one.
4 - Now that you have gotten past the gate agent there are two more obsticles. First, if you are carrying something bigger then a soprano there may be a lack of overhead bin space. The only way you have to combat this is to be ready to que up as soon as the gate agent calls ready to board. Boarding is usually done by seating sections, one first etc. (unless your flying on southwest) be the first in your section to board to ensure overhead bin space.
5 - If there is no overhead bin space this brings us the next obstacle, the flight attendant. If there is no more overhead space there are several options. There are always coat closets, even on the smallest planes. On some of the smaller planes the coat closet is reserved for the crew. Again kindness goes along way. The crew wants to get the plane out on time and not get blamed for a delay. Ask nicely if you can place it in the coat closet, if they tell you the closet is full or there is no closet ask if you can place it in the crew's closet. If they still refuse, tell them on the last flight the Captain placed the uke in his closet and ask if they will ask this captain if he will do the same. As a Captain I always accomodate instruments, even full size guitars. If you still don't have any luck, look for open seats on the plane. An instruments may be place in an empty seat as long as: 1)The case has some kind of handle to secure the instrument to the seat with the seat belt 2) The instrument is not placed in an exit row 3) The instrument is not so tall as to block any signs (no smoking, fasten seat belt etc.)
If after using all this information you still are being asked to check or gate check you uke, ask your self this question, is the health of my uke more important then the time it would take to wait for the next flight. If you value your uke ask to be put on the next flight, you will probably have a different gate agent and a different flight attendant. I hope this helps all you traveling musicians. If you have any more question feel free to send me a private message.

02-15-2014, 07:51 PM
The key to it all....be nice. Smile.

It gets you further than anything. Even if you're trying to carry an elephant on board.

hawaii 50
02-15-2014, 08:28 PM
Hey Lance

did I meet you at HMS in Haleiwa :)
...I hang with Corey and Andrew sometimes...
you live part time on the North Shore right.....

take care!!
see you soon

02-16-2014, 01:04 PM
I just flew round trip this week on a full flight with a uke and had no problems at all. I reserved my seat in the back of the plane so that I could board early, and fit it easily in the overhead. I think if I'd had a soprano, it might have fit well enough right under the seat.

02-16-2014, 01:48 PM
so, what if I take one over with me to Hawaii and buy a Koaloha while I'm there? Can you take 2 on the plane?

02-16-2014, 10:58 PM
so, what if I take one over with me to Hawaii and buy a Koaloha while I'm there? Can you take 2 on the plane?

If you want to make it harder on all of us to bring a uke on a plane in the future, sure, push it with two. ;)

Might as well make them baritones, while you're at it.

02-20-2014, 05:42 AM

02-20-2014, 06:15 AM
so, what if I take one over with me to Hawaii and buy a Koaloha while I'm there? Can you take 2 on the plane?
I bought a ukulele when I was in Hawaii. I used a light weight gig bag and put it in my carry bag, the new ukulele was in the case. My GF did the same thing and we had no trouble with our 4 ukuleles.
You are allowed two carry-ons, but there is still an element of luck involved. I have flown many times with a ukulele and not had an issue.

02-20-2014, 08:52 PM
Yes hawaii 50, we did meet at HMS. I don't get over there that often any more, I used to live part time on the North Shore but now I have a cottage in Lanikai. Anytime I'm on your side of the island I always stop in at HMS to do a little dreaming, I love that place.