In early 2012, President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Among its many elements was a set of regulations regarding musical instruments — badly needed reform for traveling musicians.
The American Federation of Musicians lobbied Congress for nearly a decade on behalf of passengers with instruments. It said the changes set a “consistent national policy allowing musical instruments on airplanes” and ended “the confusion over musical instruments as carry-on baggage.”
While the regulations passed Congress and were signed by the president, implementation and cooperation from the airlines are far from a given. Elements of the Modernization Act are being phased in over several years.
Here is the text of the massive document that applies to musicians:
SEC. 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
Sec. 41724. Musical instruments. 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).’.
• (b) Conforming Amendment- The analysis for such subchapter is amended by adding at the end the following:
41724. Musical instruments.’.