Air travel with a guitar

Air travel with a guitar is freaky business. Flying on a regional plane in the States, you'll at least have to gate check a full sized guitar. And even that freaks me out without a flight case.

So as I prepared to fly out for the Catskills Irish Arts Week last year to give a presentation on the Dunn Family Collection, I decided to not bring a guitar. I already had to bring a laptop, A/V gear, a couple visuals... I decided I should skip the guitar, especially since I didn't have a flight case for my tru sty Martin D-15. Hey, I was going to be busy, so I wouldn't miss the guitar, right?

Of course I was wrong and should have known better. CIAW always has some legendary sessions throughout the week. I made some good friends the first day I was there and was kicking myself for not having a guitar at hand to play tunes.

Luckily I ran into a fellow guitar player from Michigan who'd I met via email a couple months before--and he happened to have two guitars with him (thanks, Dane!). So I was able to join in the fun a bit the last couple nights I was around.

Dane and I chatted about air travel with a guitar (he'd driven out), and he mentioned that he'd tried a Voyage-Air guitar. He was surprised that a guitar that could fold in half could sound that good. I stored that info in my memory bank.

After getting back home, I started researching some options, more focused on getting a beefy flight case. At some of the festivals I attended last year with the archives, I got some opinions and experiences from other guitar and bouzouki players.

I heard some pretty harrowing stories. Even with some serious flight cases, I heard of some serious guitar destruction. And of course, I couldn't forget the United Breaks Guitars song and video.

Knowing that I'd soon be traveling to Toronto to visit the friends I made at CIAW, I ruled out the flight case idea. I'd already tried the smaller travel guitars on the market and wasn't really digging them.

My Voyage-Air VAD-06After reading more reviews, I decided to give a Voyage-Air a try. I opted for the VAD-06, since I do favor a dreadnought size, and they'd gotten favorable reviews on tone and playability.

After a good setup, my VAD-06 plays very nicely. It has a pretty distinct tone, with a more prominent high end than my D-15. It doesn't have a big boomy low end, which actually is a blessing when backing Irish music (I don't want to feel like I'm blasting away at the other players in a session). Does it "beat" the Martin? Overall I'd say no, but I'm satisfied with the tone for casual playing and road gigs.

The best thing about this guitar, of course, is it's portability. When folded up in it's case, it fits in the overhead bin of a smaller regional plane. On one flight, I was near the emergency exit, and it even fit in the smaller compartment (which did require a bit of arrangement gymnastics, but it worked in the end). However, if your bin already has a couple larger roller suitcases, you'll have to find another one to stash the guitar in.

So overall, I'm happy to have an easily transportable guitar to take on flights. I won't have to chose to leave a guitar at home any more!

*a quick note: I'm not endorsed by Voyage-Air in any way, this review is just my opinion.


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*Voyage-Air Owner's Club Note* Jeff is very active in Milwaukee's Irish community, working as the archivist at the Ward Irish Music Archives and teaching flute and whistle at the Irish Fest School of Music. In 2007, Jeff recorded a duo album with Milwaukee-based fiddler TJ Hull entitled Éist. This is a post from his Blog.


Stories From The Road

Owner Testimonials

  • 5star-100
    I received my VAOM-1C and boy does it sing!  I am the proud and happy owner of several top-notch Martins: a D35 Johnny Cash, a HD28e, a solid DCPA4R as well as a 1973 00-18. I also had a 2003 D18 which I sold because it wasn't so good. I was expecting the VAOM-1C to sound ok but not more. "Can't have the best of both worlds" I thought. Well, now I do. It is just exquisite, so melodic and yet with a surprising sustain and expressivity. It is a true jewel at a more than decent price! All the Best and THANK YOU!
    Jean-Dominique Michel, Switzerland - VAOM-1C
  • 5star-100
    My wife and I travel a lot and in the past have had issues with taking a guitar with me......they're either too bulky for the overhead compartment, or I have to let the luggage handlers toss around my guitars like they're a bag of beans. I recently purchased one of your VAOM-04 guitars, and I'm totally impressed with the sound and the playability of this instrument. My first choice is my Martins, but since I received the VAOM-O4 I haven't put it down. I would recommend this guitar to any player, even if you don't travel that much. I'm looking forward to my next trip. I may just spend most of the trip playing this guitar.
    Great Job Voyage-Air.
    - Tony H. - VAOM-04
  • 5star-100
    It’s considered a “travel guitar,” and it truly is a remarkably portable instrument; however, that label does it a disservice, because honestly, it’s a damn nice guitar. It just happens to have a nifty set of hinges that allow the neck to fold over on the top, making it far more compact and transport friendly. I love my Telair!
    - Anthony K. Sandy, UT - VET-2SBB
  • 5star-100
    I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and genius behind this amazingly compact, but great sounding guitar!! I work in the movie industry and travel quite a bit, and being able to bring my guitar as a carry-on wherever I go is just what I've been looking for! The overall sound is amazingly rich for its size, and the folding mechanics work like a dream! If you’re wondering if it's worth getting, the answer is a big YES!!
    - Nancy F. Santa Monica, CA - VAMD-04
  • 5star-100
    I bought a VAD-04 strictly for travel and light use. The day I bought it I paid a visit to United Airlines. As I was walking up to the counter the clerk said that he had seen these before and that there was no problem taking it on as carry-on. .I think that this is a great value and a nice sounding piece All in all it is a winner in my book. I’ve heard less sound from much more expensive instruments. I may mike it because I think it compares to my Taylor 814ce and Breedlove it surprised me!
    -  Michael, Columbus, NE - VAD-04
  • 5star-100 
    I travel a lot, and for years, I schlepped my heavy Goodall Jumbo, always worried about it getting damaged and stolen.  I recently purchased a Voyage Air guitar and love it.  Its light, gets on planes, and sounds terrific. It has made travelling with a guitar a no-brainer.  Even after closing and opening, it stays very close to being in tune. I recommend this guitar to anyone who likes to play wherever they go.
    - Stewart, Santa Fe, NM - VAOM-02