We demonstrate the high sensitivity of gas sensing using a novel air-guiding photonic bandgap fiber. The bandgap fiber is spliced to a standard single-mode fiber at the input end for easy coupling and filled with gas through the other end placed in a vacuum chamber. The technique is applied to characterize absorption lines of acetylene and hydrogen cyanide employing a tunable laser as light source. Measurements with a LED are also performed for comparison. Detection of weakly absorbing gases such as methane and ammonia is explored.