It’s been nearly three years since the law was passed by Congress, but the Federal Aviation Administration has finally taken action to implement new rules to require airlines to allow musicians to carry their instruments on board commercial flights.
The new rules, which go into effect on March 6, allow you to stow a guitar, violin, trumpet, or other instrument in the overhead compartment if there’s room at the time you board. Before this rule, individual airlines may have had different policies, and enforcement could be subject to the whims of whatever gate agent happened to be working. Many musicians were forced to check their instruments, sometimes resulting in damage or mishandling. Now touring artists can make travel plans with a higher degree of certainty and security.
Note that the new rules alone don’t necessarily mean it’s going to be perfectly easy to fly with your instrument. There are still some extra steps you should take to make sure your instrument arrives safely at your destination. For example, it’s definitely worth looking into your airline’s boarding procedures, to try and ensure early boarding so overhead space will be available. Large items that don’t fit overhead will still need to be checked. It’s also important to be prepared for the TSA’s security screening needs.
To that end, we’ve updated our handy factsheet on Traveling with Instruments to reflect the final rules, and included some other helpful tips for travel.
Our thanks and congratulations to everyone who has worked on this issue over the past decade. Our friends at the American Federation of Musicians deserve an extra pat on the back for their leadership, as do those members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who supported this rule change. Of course, we’ll be watching closely to see how well airlines abide by the newly implemented law, but after so much turbulence on the way to these final rules, we’re optimistic that clearer skies are ahead.
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