The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just gave a little bit of help to all of those musicians out there traveling with their favorite instruments. The DOT issued new rules regarding carry-on items for airplanes, and they now include small instruments that can be stored in the overhead compartments or underneath seats. Instruments like violins, guitars, small wind instruments, and so on are now allowed. Sorry KJ Sawka, we don’t think they’ll let the drum kit on board, even though that would probably be one of the best plane rides ever.
During the past year, the Department of Transportation has been engaged in a dialogue with musicians as well as representatives from airlines and industry associations… Several members from various musician organizations described the problems they encounter while traveling by air with their musical instruments.
The main purpose of the new rules is to clear up a lot of ambiguities that lie with instrument fees. With the final set of new rules, airlines are NOT allowed to charge more than a carry-on fee for instruments that fit within the regulations. The ambiguities that existed before were because airlines, admittedly, had staff at the counters who were not fully familiar with the policies regarding what to charge for instruments. It could be that some musicians were unnecessarily charged fees, where there were none.
The stakeholders recognize that, while most airlines’ current policies regarding musical instruments are consistent with the current statute, front line customer service agents and flight crew may not always be well versed in those policies and may not communicate those policies accurately or effectively to musicians.
This new rule does come with a caveat, however. If you are a musician carrying on an instrument, it is HIGHLY recommended by the DOT that you purchase priority seating or be on the plane as soon as possible, to ensure there is enough room in the overhead compartments to fit your instrument. This new rule will go into effect at the end of February.
The Northwest is home to some of the most talented musicians in the world from all genres. This new rule will help the struggling artists in our local scene by easing the airline chaos, and will help them get to the gigs they need to be at. Travel is not a cheap endeavor and any money they can save will help us all as fans.
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