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Just in: US Congress passes bill allowing instruments in aircraft

Musical organisations are delighted:

The AFM applauds the passage of the FAA Bill that sets a consistent national policy allowing musical instruments on airplanes

After five years and 23 short-term extensions, Congress has passed legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next four years. Included in the bill are provisions that create a uniform national policy regarding musical instruments on airplanes. Any instrument that can be safely stored in the overhead compartment or underneath the seat may be brought on board as carry-on luggage. Additionally, the bill sets standard weight and size requirements for checked instruments, and permits musicians to purchase a seat for oversized instruments, such as cellos, that are too delicate to be checked. Existing law allowed each airline to set their own policy regarding musical instruments, and size requirements varied widely for both carry-on and checked baggage. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has been lobbying Congress to enact such a policy for nearly a decade.

“This is great news for professional musicians throughout the U.S. and Canada who carry the tools of our trade – our instruments – aboard commercial aircraft,” said AFM President Ray Hair. “Ending the confusion over musical instruments as carry-on baggage has been a top legislative priority for nearly a decade. I am proud of our Government Relations Director, Hal Ponder and his assistant Laura Brigandi in our Washington legislative office for seeing the effort through. Musicians can now fly in friendlier skies.”

The FAA reauthorization was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, February 3 by a 248-169 vote. It subsequently passed the Senate on Monday, February 6, 75-20.  The President is expected to sign the bill into law.

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  1. Is this just national flights or international ones as well? It seems every day there’s a horror story about cellos or guitars not being allowed on planes and being either mishandled or not handled at all. I hope this is great news for all traveling musicians, not just the stars.

  2. Patricia Lansche says:

    Yes, but I’m still glad I didn’t pursue my career in harp or contrabassoon. Poor bass players, not even a mention.

  3. the voice of sarcasm says:

    but they should still watch out for those Violas! You know the joke?
    “What do a violist and a terrorist have in common? …
    they both f@#% up bowings / boeings !” :-D

  4. Tony Clements says:

    It’s fucking about time!!!

  5. Jean Cook says:

    FIM (the international musicians union) is petitioning the EU government to make this happen in Europe as well. If you are a musician traveling in Europe, you can sign the petition here:

  6. Bur why on earth did 169 vote against?

  7. Awesome for Americans and all musicians. Funny that some actually voted against. Canadian politicians don’t care much for musicians here. They forget that we can actually mark an “x” inside the box too. I paid $200 extra for my keyboard on Air Canada which was put in the cargo compartment, not inside the plane. They also charged me an extra $150 for oversized luggage (my suitcase). I was not happy about the charge. Will consider my options next time I fly again.

  8. …’cause United breaks guitars…

  9. Are instruments counted as carry-on items subject to the rules and charges of each airline? For example, Spirit Air charges for carry-on items that will go in overhead bins. I assume they would charge to bring a fiddle on board. An item that will fit under the seat is free.

    • Air Canada was systematically removing money from my credit card every time I advanced through the terminal with my guitar. It’s unbelievably annoying. A fee for carrying it past the registration desk, another fee for someone else carrying the guitar from the check-in through security to the gate. Yet another fee for tagging and checking the guitar at the the gate.

  10. Yes, Spirit will charge you for carrying your guitar on board.

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