Your Questions: Can I Fly In The USA With My DJ Gear?

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Last updated 6 April, 2018

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Ah the jetset DJ life… you’d sleep more peacefully during flights if stowing your gear was just as simple as normal carry on luggage!

Digital DJ Tips reader Cquer writes: “Since I have to fly in the USA this year with my Pioneer DDJ-SX controller, I’m wondering if the recent ruling (section 403) on musical instruments as carry-on baggage applies to DJ equipment? I really don’t want to check my deck on a plane, so would love some sage advice.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Good news! When you travel, your DDJ-SX may or may not be considered an instrument, but as long as it follows the airline criteria, you won’t likely have to check your gear. That said, it’s always a good idea to read up on each airline, as their guidelines can vary widely. Luckily, carrier websites usually list the specifics.

The FAA ruling came about to fix misunderstandings between airlines and musicians. It responds to difficulties that musicians have encountered while travelling with their gear, and tries to clarify the rules to avoid future issues. It has made things clearer, but there are still some best practices to keep in mind:

Carry-on luggage is stowed on a “first come, first serve basis”. Carriers have to allow a passenger to store their approved carry-on if they get there first, and can’t ask you to move it to make space for others. Therefore, they won’t move anything to fit your stuff. Whoever gets there last is out of luck – isn’t that very fitting for the “everyone for themselves” atmosphere in most airports?

So a pro tip would definitely be to board the plane immediately, even if that means paying a bit more. To carry your gear safely, use a controller backpack or shoulder bag designed specifically for the DDJ-SX. Getting a Decksaver cover will ensure the knobs and faders don’t get bent.

If you have to check your equipment for some reason (some airlines might be weird about it), your safest bet is getting a hard flight case. Actually, there is one safer bet: It’s possible to give your gear its own seat! Appropriately called “seat baggage”, you can buy an extra ticket for your controller, and have it secured in plain sight. And really, what better company could you ask for?

Have any stories or advice on travelling with DJ gear? Share them with us below!

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