an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

Why is US Transportation Secretary delaying musicians’ airline rights?

It has been almost a year since Congress passed a bill obliging airlines to take musical instruments on board. Last year, President Obama signed the bill into law. Since then, nothing has happened.

It needs the stroke of a pen from Ray LaHood, US Secretary of State for Transportation, to make the law effective, but he’s prevaricating. Who knows why? Maybe he’s been having meaningful conversations with airline lobbyists.

If two years pass without enactment, the bill will die.

A bunch of musicians have got together now to present a petition to the president to enact their airline rights. You can add your signature here.

Full text below:

Musical-Instrument_Carry-On_Legislation-310x177-300x171

 

To:
The President of the United States
Ray LaHood, US Secretary of Transportation
When musicians are travelling by air in the United States, their instruments have no protections under current law. Each air carrier can decide their own rules on how to treat instrumentalists, and this results in arbitrary decisions made down the line. This has resulted in the destruction of instruments, arbitrary fees charged to bring them on as carry-ons, and even the denial of a seat to musicians who purchased a full-fare seat for their instruments to protect them from baggage handlers. Many of our instruments are irreplaceable antiques made by master instrument makers in the 1600s and 1700s, and all we ask is the ability to fly with our most precious tools to provide music to audiences across the United States of America.Fortunately, Congress passed a bi-partisan bill, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr658/text/eas) over a year and a half ago to address these problems. It was signed into law by President Obama.Until Ray Lahood acts to transform this bill into a part of the United States Code under Title 49, Subtitle VII, Part A, subpart ii, Chapter 417, Subchapter I, § 41724 we will remain second-class citizens. The future of music as a profession in the United States depends on the security of knowing that we can travel freely and arrive at our destinations. Here is the full text of the law as passed:(a) In General.—
(1) Small instruments as carry-on baggage.— An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if—
(A) the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator; and
(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
(2) Larger instruments as carry-on baggage.— An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of paragraph (1) in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of the additional ticket described in subparagraph (E), if—
(A) the instrument is contained in a case or covered so as to avoid injury to other passengers;
(B) the weight of the instrument, including the case or covering, does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft;
(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator;
(D) neither the instrument nor the case contains any object not otherwise permitted to be carried in an aircraft cabin because of a law or regulation of the United States; and
(E) the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased an additional seat to accommodate the instrument.
(3) Large instruments as checked baggage.— An air carrier shall transport as baggage a musical instrument that is the property of a passenger traveling in air transportation that may not be carried in the aircraft cabin if—
(A) the sum of the length, width, and height measured in inches of the outside linear dimensions of the instrument (including the case) does not exceed 150 inches or the applicable size restrictions for the aircraft;
(B) the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft; and
(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator.
(b) Regulations.— Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out subsection (a).
(c) Effective Date.— The requirements of this section shall become effective on the date of issuance of the final regulations under subsection (b).

Please urge Mr. Lahood to turn this common-sense regulation into law before the 2 year deadline has passed and help music in this country!

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. Robin Blonstein says:

    Typical of the “Obummer Administration”. It’s all on paper, just as his promises are empty air. My electrically-charged and bristling “had-it-with-the-man” bias is obvious. Definitely PRESS THIS ISSUE!!!

  2. Robcat2075 says:

    I’ve never previously heard of a law that, once passed by Congress and signed by the President, requires the approval of a Cabinet Secretary to remain law.

    The text says:

    “(b) Regulations.— Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out subsection (a).”

    I read that to mean he is required to implement the law within two years, not that he is given the power to make the law disappear by doing nothing.

    • Robcat2075, you are quite right. Once Congress has passed a law and the President has signed it, it is the law. Cabinet Secretaries do not have the power to make or break laws. The role of the Cabinet Secretary and his huge staff is to write, propose, solicit comments on, review the comments, and write an implementing regulation. In real life, this can and often does drag on for many years

  3. I too hope this law is implemented ASAP. But there is a alternative approach, which may in fact be far more effective. That is to have your instruments and cases fully insured. I don’t wish to be a shill for the insurance industry, but it has been my experience that the airlines only change policy when it costs them money. Individual musicians cannot afford the time and don’t have the financial where-with-all to hire lawyers to chase the airlines when they damage our gear. And all the airlines have a limit on what they will pay for such damages. In fact, in some cases, they’ll even put a “fragile” sticker on your instrument case so that they are not liable beyond their limit, which is generally $200. However, insurance companies have their own lawyers, and once the insurance company has reimbursed you for the damage, believe me, they will chase the airlines to recoup what it cost to repair or replace damaged cases and instruments. If enough musicians have suits brought by their insurance companies against the airline industry, the airline industry will realize the same thing the insurance industry realized in the last decade, which is that musicians are generally responsible and protect their instruments in every reasonable way they can. The care that musicians therefore afford their instruments makes the investment less risky for insurance companies to give complete coverage for these instruments. This means that the airline industry is generally completely at fault when instruments are damaged. When the airline industry’s negligent handling of valuable instruments starts costing them money commensurate with the value of the instruments they damage, the airline industry will realize a $20,000 cello deserves at least the same respectful treatment as a hedge fund investor’s golf clubs routinely gets from flight attendants.

    • Good point. As for the petition, when I added my “john hancock”, it only had 765 signatures. So, even if you’re not a U.S. citizen, but have an interest in this issue, sign early and sign often.

    • Sorry, but most policies refuse to cover instruments transported as baggage, and as someone who suffered grievous damage due to incompetence, the insurance company did not even contact the airline, but told me that if there were another claim, they would cancel my policy….

      • Look into Music Pro, they do not exclude such damage. Of course if you want your instrument to actually get on the plane you are on, you should never check it curb side or at any place other then plane side. I know that if you get your instrument to the plane and it will not fit overhead it will only be handled to put it in baggage, and you will retrieve it when and where you de-board, plane-side, just like a checked baby carriage. This dramatically minimizes the chance of damage. But when even then they manage to destroy a carbon fiber case ………. like U.S. Air did with me, not only did my insurance company promptly cover the cost of repairing or in my case actually replacing the case, but they even got my deductable back. Since many such insurance companies will sell you $20,000 worth of coverage worldwide 24/7 for about $100 per year, if you travel with your axe for a living, get it insured. Then when those with the muscle to defend our rights and get us compensated for the airline’s negligence, I bet the airlines will treat or instruments with the respect they and we deserve.

  4. It’s an excellent petition and could be signed by anyone affected by the failure to issue implementing regulations, and not just U.S. citizens or residents. Also, it would be helpful to circulate this to all of the orchestras, managing agents, musician’s unions, conservatories and colleges.

an ArtsJournal blog