money cigarWhat kind of crime is it to be a musician?

What is this arcane punishment for daring to attempt to bring your musical tool onto an aeroplane?

Why does it cost more to pack you guitar into the hold than your sweaty, wheezing body into the seat upstairs?

£100 is about the average price to bring a guitar onto a flight with you these days.


Cheap airlines are, surprisingly, the worst offenders – the cost of taking a guitar on these airlines can be double your own good self. It’s crippling and is yet another barrier to international touring. Most bands are not the Rolling Stones, most bands don’t have offshore accounts, most bands are skint. Broke. Just trying to get from A to B. No-one is asking for a free ride. Just a level playing field. Without excessive blagging extra chrages from coroporate companies.

Some airlines seem to allow passengers so lug huge suitcases full of endless outfits crammed into their designer hides and yet anyone daring to bring a guitar that takes up half the space gets charged? what if we took a guitar case and took the guitar out and stuffed it full of clothes and said it was some kind of funky bag? would that be allowed?

It’s bad enough these days with the £5000 slapped on European bands who dare to attempt to tour the USA, and then the endless foreign taxes taking up to 30 per cent of each fee without having to also pay £100 extra to bring your guitar with you which then gets kicked across the runway or lost quite often.

This is yet another situation that has to change or we will end up with a generation of rich kid hobby horse bands pottering around the circuit on their gap years and no-one else…

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Disgraceful to charge us poor guitarists extra. I once took my strat in a suitcase to Sydney, by unscrewing it at the base of the neck and folding it down. Not to avoid the charges though – as this was 1999, but because I did not own a hard case at the time.

    What about posting the guitar out the destination pre gig and picking it up on arrival? Would this be cost effective, or even safe?


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