Can you take DJ equipment on a plane?

dj equipment being loaded on to aeroplane
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Can You Take DJ Equipment on A Plane?

You might be nervous about traveling with your DJ equipment on board. First, there’s the chance that TSA agents will not allow you to take them on board with you. Another major concern is the baggage handlers. They might mishandle or damage your equipment, leaving you with hundreds of dollars’ worth of costs.

The quick answer to the question “Can you take DJ equipment on a plane?” is yes. You can carry your equipment on the plane as checked-in baggage as well as carry-on luggage. Recent FAA rules have made it easier for DJs and other musicians to carry their equipment as carry-on.

The rules dictate that as long as they fall within the specific weight and size limits, you can easily carry them onboard. Also, carry-on luggage is stored on a first-come first-serve basis. So if you’re one of the first folks to board, you can store bigger equipment easily without worrying about making space.

However, for each piece of equipment, there are certain rules you need to follow. Below, you will find more information about carrying the most popular DJ equipment on the plane.

DJ Speakers:

DJ Speakers tend to be one of the most important pieces of equipment for DJs. However, traveling with them can be a huge pain. If the speakers are small and lightweight, we recommend that you utilize them as carry-on luggage if they can fit. Of course, you have to be careful of the size and weight. If it’s over the allowed limit, then you might not be allowed to travel with it. When going through the scanner, take them out and put them in a separate bin so TSA agents can easily see what they are instead of panicking and holding you up.

On the other hand, if the speakers are quite large, then you should send them to luggage. You can box them up and wrap the box up with cellophane or plastic. Most airports allow you to wrap the package up for a small amount of money. This will help keep your Speakers safe — even in the checked baggage section.

DJ Controllers:

DJ controllers are quite fragile so you should always ensure that they are packed securely while traveling. There are various protective cases, backpacks, and controller sleeves that allow you to travel safely with your equipment. However, smaller controllers are easier to travel with.

One reason is that you can find an appropriately-sized sleeve, and another is that you can easily carry it with you on the plane. Carrying it with you tends to be much safer, since only you will be handling it.

If you’re willing to carry it in your hand, invest in a backpack. Make sure you check with the flight regulations to make sure they are small enough to be carried.

The controller sleeves tend to be quite sturdy and affordable as well. They provide your controller with the most basic protection. However, if you choose to send it to checked baggage, there are chances that it could fail in protecting your controllers. The knobs and the faders will most likely get damaged.

A decent option would be investing in a sturdy flight case. This option is quite suitable for the bigger controllers. Since the case is sturdy, you won’t have to worry about damaging the controller, even if you send it to checked baggage. However, they do tend to be quite heavy. You also need to make sure that they do not cross the weight limit.

Let’s not forget that controllers can also land you in a thorough security check. Since they are such complex devices, security might want to check the baggage thoroughly. Many times, DJs have been stopped and asked to plug in the controller to ensure it is an actual device and not an explosive.

DJ Headphones:

DJ headphones are perhaps the easiest to travel with. Their small size allows you to easily carry them with you on the plane. There are a couple of ways you can travel with them. First, you could include them in your hand carry. You won’t be asked many questions since they are standard equipment. Second, you could wear them while entering the plane. In fact, some people tend to avoid ear-popping by wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

Lastly, you can send them to luggage. However, we recommend that you box them up and wrap them in bubble wrap. You should place them in the middle of clothes to cushion any hard blows.

DJ Mixers:

DJ mixers can catch the attention of airport security as well. The TSA agents will often check mixers thoroughly for explosives. They might find it hard to see it properly through the X-ray. Because of this, you should take it out and put it in a separate bin just like you would do with a laptop. This could help you avoid any rummaging and longer security checks.

Needles can land you in trouble as well. You can tell the agents what they are and they might let you go. On the other hand, you might be told to leave them behind.

You can try putting them through luggage by using a flight case or a box with plastic wrapped around it. It won’t cause as much of a problem as including them in your hand carry.

DJ Turntables:

DJ turntables are perhaps more fragile than even the controllers. You can try sending them to luggage in a flight case, however, the handlers are bound to throw them around. Sometimes the TSA agent even checks and opens bags just to make sure the bag is safe.

We recommend that you don’t travel with mixers. You can try renting them out when you get to your destination or shipping it through FedEx or UPS. These are much safer options that won’t result in broken equipment.

Furthermore, there is also the fact that you might be traveling with a couple of DJ turntables which would require a flight case each. This could result in going over the weight limit and you would be required to pay extra cash. For the money, you could easily rent it out at the destination.

Cables and Lighting:

You should pack cables up in a separate box. Do not leave them attached to the equipment. If they pass through a scanner, TSA will likely see a black object with wires coming out of it. They could eventually arrest you without checking first. So, we recommend that you pack them separately.

Packing them in the box would make it easier for you to put them back in even if you are required to open up the case. Lighting should be carried in the carry-on bag if it is small enough. Otherwise, you should pack it up securely and send it through checked baggage.

Tips on Traveling with DJ Gear:

Here are a few tips you can follow to make your experience better:

1. Board as early as you can. This will allow you to take advantage of the empty space and store your large equipment.

2. Insure your Gear. Insuring your gear will help you to relax without the fear of your equipment getting damaged or lost. You won’t have to waste hundreds of dollars trying to get it fixed.

3. Book an extra seat. Some airlines might not allow you to do so. However, if you can, it will allow you to travel with more space.

4. Pack the bare essentials. Do not pack everything in your armada. Instead, go for only what you need.

Consider Separate Shipping:

As a last resort, you can try shipping the equipment separately through shipping services such as FedEx and UPS. This is a much better option, as these companies are more likely to handle your instruments carefully. However, they might be a day or two late on shipping, which can throw an ax in your plans. You should try to ship them over to a friend before you leave.

Check with Airline Regulations:

An important tip to remember is to check what your airline allows and what it doesn’t. Check for the weight limits of both the checked baggage as well as the carry-on. If you go over these limits, you might have to pay extra. Some airlines do not have any limits on carry-on bags for musicians. You can take advantage of this and carry oversized equipment as well. However, be sure to read the fine print and see if there is something they do not allow.

Bottom Line:

All in all, carrying DJ equipment can be quite a difficult task. You need to ensure that you follow all the rules and regulations. In addition, you need to ensure that your equipment is safe and sound, specifically in the checked baggage area. There is also the complication of getting through security without any problems.

However, we recommend that you comply with their requests. If they ask you to plug the equipment in and show them that it works, then do it without arguments. This will barely take 5-6 minutes and then you’ll be on your way!

We have another great guide on how to protect your DJ gear, which also covers traveling and performing. 

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