DOT tunes up ruling on carrying instruments on flights

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Thanks to a new ruling by the US Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are now required to allow small musical instruments, such as a violin or guitar, to be carried into the cabin and stowed in approved stowage spaces, if available, and/or under the seat.

“Under the rule, musical instruments as carry-on items are treated no differently from other carry-on items and the stowage space should be made available for all carry-on items on a “first come, first served” basis,” reads the new ruling. “Carriers are not required to give musical instruments priority over other carry-on baggage, therefore passengers traveling with musical instruments may want to buy the pre-boarding option offered by many carriers to ensure that space will be available for them to safely stow their instruments in the cabin.”

The rule goes into effect in 60 days.

For many years people traveling with instruments have been subject to arbitrary and contradictory size and weight requirements imposed by each airline for musical instruments carried on or checked as baggage, “[a]irlines will now follow a consistent policy for all musicians traveling with instruments, said Ray Hair, president of the American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada.

Airlines are now required to train air crews, gate agents, counter agents, and baggage personnel concerning appropriate procedures necessary to comply with all FAA musical instrument transportation policies and, hopefully there won’t a repeat of the incident that prompted the viral hit, United Breaks Guitars.

To help explain the new ruling, the DOT has created a webpage with helpful tips on traveling with musical instruments – and advice on what to do if you have a problem getting your instrument on a flight.

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