In Europe, myriad problems with musical instruments on airlines led the European Commission to address the issue in a memo of March 13, 2013:
In the “Air Passenger Rights Revision,” the EU proposed “strengthened enforcement for baggage rules and specific rules for … music instruments.”
Under new rights, we find:
Musicians often do not know in advance under which conditions fragile and often very expensive instruments will be taken on board. Under the proposal, the air carriers must accept smaller instruments into the passenger cabin and must clearly indicate the terms and conditions for the transport of larger instruments in the cargo hold.
The EU continued: “National authorities will be responsible for the enforcement of compensation rules for … the new rules on the transport of musical instruments make sure that their carriage is not refused on other grounds than safety or technical specificities of the aircraft.”
The changes came in part after lobbying by the International Federation of Musicians (FIM), which gathered more than 40,000 signatures in support of musicians’ rights to carry their instruments on board flights.
“This is a major step towards the fair treatment that has been requested for so long by musicians and their organizations,” the FIM said in response to the EU actions. Still, the group is lobbying for more revisions. The FIM is joined in the call for further revisions by Pearle, the European trade federation of Performing Arts organizations.
“You never know what happens,” one working musician wrote in response to the IFM’s concerns. “It would be great to have one policy for all airlines — that would make traveling much less stressful. I do not travel for fun but for work.”
Even with the law on their side, the ride may not always be smooth for musicians, the EU noted: “The main problem for passengers is that, while they have very strong passenger rights defined under EU law, they can have difficulty claiming them and feel frustrated when air carriers do not appear to apply them.”
The proposal addresses “key aspects of EU law (dating back to 2005) which have been a source of difficulty for passengers and air carriers alike.”