The rule takes effect 60 days after the publication, dated Jan. 5, 2015.
The FAA regulations’ new “Part 251” addresses small musical instruments as carry-on baggage, the area in which most of the in-flight frustrations and clashes occur.
“At DOT, we know how important instruments are to musicians and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that they are not damaged while being transported on airlines,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who met with musicians and the airline industry on the topic last summer.
Under the rule, musical instruments as carry-on items are treated no differently from other carry-on items — and the stowage space must be made available for all carry-on items on a “first come, first served” basis.
Foxx said the statute “will go a long way towards keeping instruments safe when they fly — from allowing them in the cabin if there’s space for safe stowage, to letting passengers buy a seat for certain large instruments.”
The FAA states that airlines “shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other small musical instrument in the aircraft cabin” without an additional fee (standard carry-on charges would apply). The instrument must fit under the seat or in the baggage compartment.
It also guarantees a traveler’s right to buy a seat for an instrument without additional fees.
The Federal Register published the musical-instruments ruling on Jan. 5, 2015. It implements section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.
Here are the highlights:
PART 251: CARRIAGE OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
§ 251.3 Small Musical Instruments as Carry-on Baggage
Each covered carrier shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other small 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 FAA; and
(b) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
§ 251.4 Large Musical Instruments as Carry-on Baggage
Each covered carrier shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of section 251.3 in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of an 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 FAA;
(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.
§ 251.5 Large Musical Instruments as Checked Baggage
Each covered 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 FAA.
The final rule applies to scheduled and charter flights in domestic or international transportation operated by U.S. carriers, regardless of the size of the aircraft they operate.