Ruling Issued on Air Travel with Musical Instruments


Good news for traveling musicians across the country as the U.S. Department of Transportation ruled last week that instruments will now be treated just the same as carry-on items or checked baggage on commercial flights (although some slight conditions still apply).

All U.S. carriers must allow passengers to store small instruments – such as a guitar or violin – anywhere normal carry-on luggage is placed, be it in the overhead storage area or even under the seats. And just like carry-on items and luggage, they will be treated on a “first come, first serve” as far as space is concerned.

Larger instruments will be accepted in the cargo compartment just as checked baggage is but for any musician out there uncomfortable with that scenario, carriers will also be required to allow instruments under 165 pounds to be brought into the cabin itself – provided the passenger buy an additional seat to accommodate the instrument.

“At DOT, we know how important instruments are to musicians and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that they are not damaged while being transported on airlines,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “This final rule implements the statute, and it will go a long way towards keeping instruments safe when they fly – from allowing them in the cabin if there’s space for safe stowage, to letting passengers buy a seat for certain large instruments.”

The final ruling is part of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

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