AIRLINE POLICIES VARY ON CARRYING LARGE MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS IN CABIN

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ARTICLE: FAA Modernization and Reform Act Of 2012 Will Change Rule Reading Carriage of Instruments

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Recently the subjects of bringing service animals and the use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs)  on board aircraft have been topics of interest. The Globe and Mail of Canada now brings to our attention some airlines’ concerns about the carriage of large musical instruments, specifically the cello. Most airlines will allow guitars and violins to be stowed in the overhead storage area while other air carriers prohibit the carriage of items like a cello in the cabin. Recently on a flight leaving JFK I witnessed a young musician boarding an American Flight with his cello. Apparently he purchased an extra seat, which was a window seat and was not in front of or behind the exit row. The instrument was also secured by a baggage restraint net.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 legislated changes that will prevent US airlines from treating musicians and their instruments in the way experienced by Mr. Katz. Specifically, instruments that can fit in overhead bins must be allowed, instruments that can fit in a seat (like a cello) can no longer be barred, and large instruments like double basses must be accepted as oversize checked luggage, not forced to go as cargo. The legislation becomes effective in February 2014 and applies to US operators only.

So air carriers that have stringent policies against large musical instruments in the cabin should stop FRETTING over cellos on airplanes and BOW to the new legislation now, as it makes no sense to STRING this matter out. However, until the new legislation goes into effect the disparate airline policies must be NOTEd by musicians. Bottom line – call the airline (s) before booking your flight and check on their policy – at least until Feb 2014.

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