Can You (Legally Bring) DJ Equipment on an Airplane
Flying can be quite frustrating for DJs. Recently I did research on everything you need to know for traveling with your gear.
So can you bring DJ equipment on an airplane?
Yes, you can bring DJ Equipment on an Airplane. If you stick to the prerequisites of dimensions and weight. DJ equipment is either allowed as check-in luggage or as carry-on luggage. For carry-on luggage the default international dimensions are 21" x 14" x 9" and for weight 15lbs.
I will explain everything you should know when flying with your musical gear starting off with a simple packing list. I have also made a custom calculator to calculate if your DJ Deck will be allowed as carry-on luggage.
Not forgetting your stuff is just as important as having no issues at the airport. I have made a simple packing list for you to quickly check if you have packed everything and if you are ready to go.
- DJ Controller
- Sound System (PA Speakers)
- Special Lights
- Hard Drives
- Backup Gear
Agency Guidelines Regarding When You Bring DJ Equipment
Until 2015 airlines had their own policy on carrying your musical gear. Until then it was very hard to travel sometimes. Luckily The Department of Transportation has issued a new rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. which means musical instruments can travel by consumer airplane in carry-on luggage or as check-in luggage. This was viable in domestic flights and international flights from the United States. A few years later the FFA has checked if the implementation was successful and the implementation is now successful. Airlines agree to musical equipment being check-in luggage or being carry-on luggage if they meet the requirements and if there is not too little space.
Most airlines even accept renting another seat for your DJ Gear. Of course, you have to carry it in the seat on your own but 2 small bags should be doable.
How to make sure your gear stays safe
- Try to board early on the plane. This way you will be ensured of plenty of space in the storage above your head. You can also make sure to lay it down safely so that it does not fall down when releasing the hatch after the flight. pro tip: try and be as early as possible so you can store your equipment across from you. This way you have even more space for yourself and you can look at your stuff when someone opens the storage area.
- Get your gear protected with according protection bags or cases. For small to regular sized DJ decks, you are able to cover them with a special bag and then stove into your backpack. For medium, to large DJ decks, I recommend getting a travel bag like the Gator GK-2110. Coming in at 22.5 inches in length. It surely falls into the big side for a carry-on bag. Which means it may have to be a check-in bag. But being nice to the airplane staff could mean a lot. Something I do not recommend is a polycarbonate cover as they easily fall off and could break. They are also very expensive.
- Get a hardcover for larger equipment such as PA speakers. Since you have to check-in the luggage anyway there is no reason to get an as small as possible bag for it. Cargo handlers tend to be very careless with your luggage so proper gear protection is needed. Some cases come with some form of foam protection included. If it does not you can just simply get yourself some protective foam or bubble wrap and make sure it is layered thickly. Pro tip: put some 'fragile' stickers on the cases of your equipment so cargo handlers will be more serious about handling your equipment. If you do not want to spend extra money on getting a special DJ case, normal flight cases work fantastically if your DJ equipment fits.
- For those flights who are not that expensive, it may be a good idea to book an extra seat, especially for your equipment. Today most airlines allow booking an extra seat for your equipment since it saves them money. But make sure to notify the staff beforehand since they have to follow strict safety measures which could mean they will not allow it.
- Ensure your DJ equipment. If you do not have expensive gear with you the default travel insurances cover electronic items including your musical gear. On the other hand, it only covers a very low amount which is around 300 Dollars. This is valid for damaged or stolen items.
- Pro tip: Print the policy of the airline you will be traveling by. In that case, you have all the information needed to defend yourself in case they will not allow your musical equipment or other certain things. If you happen to find yourself losing your gear or you cannot check-in your gear make sure to file a formal complaint with your airline. This makes sure they have to play by the rules as they have to have a response within 60 days. For the US you have to also send it through the US Department of Transportation.
- Always contact your airline beforehand if you are traveling with a new airline. This way you will be sure about what you can expect and what is allowed to do at that certain airline.
Should You Take Your Gear on a Check-in Bag or on a Carry-on Bag
Ideally, you should put your DJ equipment in a carry-on bag. This way it is safer and less prone to the damage done by cargo handlers. This also means you have direct sight on your equipment which makes sure it does not get stolen. Another overlooked benefit to having your DJ controller on you if that you could practice your set with your laptop, headphones and DJ controller. It also means you will have a less boring flight since we all know how exhausting long flights can get. For my recommended storage you can check out my recommended DJ equipment page about DJ equipment storage.
Will my bag with DJ Controller be allowed to go as a Carry-on bag?
Check you local airline rules for detailed information. Or check one of the links I've mentioned above for detailed information.
Can I get stopped by the douane? Yes, and you most likely will be stopped sometime when traveling with your musical gear. Since you have a DJ controller it is very normal for you to have a laptop, USB-sticks and more with you. That is totally normal and they will most likely just ask you to open your bags with your equipment. They are interested in seeing your equipment and they will ask you what all the electronics are for. When you just tell them you are traveling as a DJ they will be satisfied and tend to be more interested in you than your equipment in a positive way.
Can I rent my musical accessories at the place of destination?
Yes, you can rent all your gear locally if you are near a large city. The cost of booking an extra seat and/or extra luggage space could be more expensive than just hiring the gear at your flight destination. The rental companies may even have your identical equipment but they should at least have similar equipment which you will be able to play on. Apart from that this could be less expensive it is also a safer option since your DJ gear does not get used, and will not damage in the traveling process. Also, most of the gear you hire is insured in some way so damage will not cost you the full amount.
I love researching and writing about new and exciting things in the world of mixing, including tutorials, reviews on hardware and software, as well as finding the latest and greatest. My goal is to help people become better DJs by providing them with all the knowledge they need to do just that!