U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) welcomed a final rule from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regarding the treatment of musical instruments on commercial airlines. Reed urged Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to issue the rule earlier this year, when media reports documented an incident in which members of the Rhode Island band Deer Tick were barred from bringing their guitars as carry-on luggage.
Section 403 of the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012 states that air carriers “shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument in the aircraft cabin,” provided “the instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat” and that “there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.” The law also makes similar allowances for the transport of larger instruments in the airplane cabin when a separate ticket is purchased for the instrument.
The law was enacted in February 2012 and included a requirement that USDOT adopt regulations to carry out this provision within two years. The law could not become effective until the final rule has was issued, leading Reed to call on Secretary Foxx in July to end the delay and clarify the rules of the road. There have been numerous reports of musicians experiencing travel disruptions when attempting to board flights with their instruments, as well as accounts of loss, theft, or damage to instruments when the artists have been required to place them in in the baggage hold.
“I’m pleased that, after nearly three years, there is a final rule that makes the FAA Modernization and Reform Act fully implemented and effective. It will be up to the airline industry, working with musician organizations, to familiarize airline personnel and travelers of their rights and responsibilities. I’m pleased that Secretary Foxx in developing this rule brought the airlines and musicians together, and that dialogue should continue. We’ll also need to closely evaluate the airlines’ performance in handling valuable and fragile musical instruments,” said Reed.
In July, after news reports that members of the band Deer Tick were detained and subsequently delayed on their return flight from Nashville to Rhode Island after they were barred from bringing their guitars as carry-on luggage, Reed sought to ensure other air travelers do not face similar problems. The delayed final rule, issued Tuesday by USDOT, requires that US airlines accept musical instruments as carry-on or checked baggage on commercial passenger flights, provided that certain conditions are met.
“We have a lot of great musicians based here in Rhode Island, and many who travel here for our world renowned music festivals. When they fly, they should be able to learn ahead of time how an airline will store their instruments during the flight. If an instrument passes through security and can be stowed safely, it should permitted in the airplane cabin. This final rule is an important step towards a more uniform policy for musicians traveling with their instruments,” added Reed.
The rule is expected to become effective in March.