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Flying with your handpan

August 27, 2022 4 min read

You want to discover the world without leaving your favorite music instrument aside. Yes, traveling and playing handpan go hand in hand. When far from home, playing handpan is ideal to meet people and create bonds easily. As a player, when I arrive in an unusual place I love to have my instrument and add my musical touch. If you also like to film your session, traveling with your instrument is very convenient to get nice videos. Seeing new places, being in nature and meeting new people and cultures is even better with your handpan at hand. But how to travel with this precious instrument without damaging it?

1 - Check-in your handpan

This option can be a bit stressful if you haven't taken the right steps to protect your instrument. Your handpan is out of sight and will pass through many hands during transport. However, this stress can be avoided with proper protection. Personally, being a bit stressed, I prefer to avoid all unknowns and not find myself on a plane that does not accept my handpan in the cabin compartment. That's why I prefer to carry it with a great protection to make sure everything goes well. For my part, I use the FlyRoll from hardcase technologies to make the trip 100% safe. This way, I avoid any last minute problem and travel with peace of mind.


When choosing this solution, it is important to know that customs can decide to take the handpan out of its protection for examination. Yes, handpan is not a common object and can arouse curiosity about its content. To avoid any problem during control by the customs, it can be useful to add a visible explanatory note on your protective case to warn them about the nature of the object. It can be higlighted that it is a rare, fragile and expensive instrument that must be handled with care.

Here is a very practical sticker that can be printed and added to your case.
Download the sticker Here

2 - Bring the handpan in the cabin


What could be more reassuring than having your handpan within sight ? Generally, it is possible to put your handpan in the cabin, even with its protective shell. Unfortunately, most flight attendants are not aware of this, so if you have already done so, we advise you to take a picture of your handpan placed in the cabin and show it on your next flight to reassure the crew.

There is a always risk of refusal when you fly with small airlines. First of all, most low-cost airlines do not allow multiple carry-on bags and have strict controls on baggage size. It is therefore essential to get all the informations in advance.

For larger airlines with bigger planes, there is usually enough room in the overhead compartment to store your handpan. There is even enough space to store your handpan with its protective shell. But be prepared if things don't go as planned.

The standard size limit for carry-on luggage varies by airline. The average size of a handpan case usually exceeds the standard carry-on size. These limits seem to be suggestions rather than strict regulations, as many travelers bring larger luggage on board than these limits.

Full list of Major Airlines Carry-On Luggage Size

Tips : Before check-in

  • Arrive early at the airport and explain the situation.
  • Start a conversation and explain that the instrument is traveling with you.
  • Use your charm and show them your instrument to facilitate communication
  • If it doesn't work, give your handpan its own seat.

Tips : After check-in before boarding

  • Arrive early at the gate.
  • Talk to the boarding agent to get your instrument on the plane.
  • Ask if you can board early to find a seat.
  • Ask for the use of the "fragile item area". Yes, there is an area for fragile items. This area is not well known by the general public. Airlines don't even mention it for fear that everyone will rush to put something there.


It's important to mention that if an airline wants to work by the rules they may insist, and then you're stuck. Again, I recommend that you at least take a hard fiberglass or carbon fiber case.

Is it interesting to wrap your handpan in plastic film ?

This is an option but it is expensive. The main reason people do this is to avoid having items stolen from their luggage and be insured in case of theft. Note that if you carry several handpans, you can film them together in order to pay for only 1 checked bag!

3 - Ship your handpan

A well-packed box with foam padding or lots of bubble wrap can prevent a handpan from being crushed or falling directly onto the sides of the note. This option has been proven to work for shipments all over the world. For less stress when flying with a handpan, we recommend shipping the instrument ahead of time or getting a handpan case that has been proven to be safe.

If you decide to send your handpan in a box here are some tips : 

  • Use a sturdy, rigid box. (wooden box)
  • Neither too small or too large to allow for cushioning materials.
  • You will also need tape, shipping labels and bubble wrap.
  • Carefully wrap the item in a sheet of bubble wrap to protect it.
  • Fill in any gaps with cushioning materials to hold the item perfectly.
  • Place an extra label inside the package, in case the outer label comes off.
  • To perfectly seal all flaps and protect your shipment even more effectively, use the H-method. For the most protection, you simply apply tape across all of the boxes open seams. That will make an H-shape across the top and bottom of your box.
alexandre zunino
alexandre zunino

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