Musical Instruments as Carry-On Luggage

The FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act (S. 223) contains provisions that set a uniform national policy for all airlines regarding musical instruments as carry-on luggage on airplanes.

S. 223 includes language that allows any instrument to be carried on board as long as it can be stored safely in an overhead bin or under the seat. In addition to the carry-on policy for small instruments, S. 223 also has provisions for oversized instruments. A musician can either buy a seat on the airplane for a large instrument like the cello, or choose to check the instrument.

The House version of this bill, H.R. 658, as amended, also contains provisions for musical instruments to be carried on board as long as they can be stored safely, but adds the qualifier that the instruments must be stowed “in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo set forth by the Administrator.” AFM is concerned that this allows the FAA to enact a future policy negating the effect of the Senate provisions by adding further restrictions to the FAA regulations regarding musical instruments.

Musicians need an unambiguous, consistent policy so that they can adequately prepare for the safe transport of their instruments, rather than being surprised at the gate by airline employees’ arbitrary decisions. A uniform national policy for all airlines regarding musical instruments as carry-on luggage on airplanes would establish a consistent standard that musicians could rely on. It would also provide a codified law for musicians to present when airline employees refuse to allow their instruments on board.

Please insert the name of your organization in the letter below to urge Senator Rockefeller to include the Senate provisions in the final bill. You may also edit the letter to personalize it and share your own stories about traveling with musical instruments.

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