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U.S. Requires Airlines to Accommodate Musical Instruments

U.S. Requires Airlines to Accommodate Musical Instruments

Fly Smart - New Rules For Instruments On Airplanes Approved For 2015

US airlines rules for traveling with string instrument

Tired of fighting with Gate Personnel and Cabin Attendants about where you're going to stow your violin while traveling on a plane? Have you been charged additional fees, or been told you need to buy a ticket for your instrument?

Well, things are about to change for the better, thanks to a new USDOT ruling set to finalize the mandate that all airlines accommodate musical instruments. 

We're talking about Section 403 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012 – the law authorizing musical instruments as carry-on baggage onboard US air carriers. Re-authorization is an act of Congress, the intent of which is to regulate US Air Carriers in regards to Safety, Services, Environmental Concerns and the overall welfare of US Aviation infrastructure. It's taken a while, with carriers dragging their feet, but the final ruling has come down and airlines must now comply with section 403 and make reasonable accommodations for musical instruments. Compliance is no longer a proposal. It's the law of the land.

Some key points:

  • Airlines are required to permit musical instruments as carry on luggage.
  • Carriers may not charge fees above and beyond the normal rates for additional carry-on or stowed baggage. Specific fees for musical instruments have been completely eliminated.
  • Owners may store their instruments in the overhead compartment, under their seat, or in approved storage areas inside the plane with the assistance of cabin crew.
  • Once situated, cabin crew cannot require you to remove your instrument to make space for another passenger's carry on luggage.
  • All crew that come in contact with musical instruments are mandated to attend special training in the care and handling of this fragile cargo. They are required to know the rules which govern air travel with instruments, and provide passengers with reasonable accommodations. This includes cabin crew, gate agents, counter agents and baggage handlers.

There are many other important rules and classifications contained in the law. The entirety of Section 403 can be found in PDF format here. Print it out and put it in the accessory pocket of your travel case so you can stand up for your rights.

The DOT was also nice enough to provide some tips and additional info for the traveling musician. Check it out here.

Want more information about flying with your instrument? Read LIVS' Guide To Airline Travel With Musical Instruments now.

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