When musicians are travelling by air in the United States, their instruments have no protections under current law. Each air carrier can decide their own rules on how to treat instrumentalists, and this results in arbitrary decisions made down the line. This has resulted in the destruction of instruments, arbitrary fees charged to bring them on as carry-ons, and even the denial of a seat to musicians who purchased a full-fare seat for their instruments to protect them from baggage handlers. Many of our instruments are irreplaceable antiques made by master instrument makers in the 1600s and 1700s, and all we ask is the ability to fly with our most precious tools to provide music to audiences across the United States of America.
Fortunately, Congress passed a bi-partisan bill, the FAA Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2012 (http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr658/text/eas) over a year and a half ago to address these problems. It was signed into law by President Obama.
Until Ray Lahood acts to transform this bill into a part of the United States Code under Title 49, Subtitle VII, Part A, subpart ii, Chapter 417, Subchapter I, § 41724 we will remain second-class citizens. The future of music as a profession in the United States depends on the security of knowing that we can travel freely and arrive at our destinations. Here is the full text of the law as passed:
(a) In General.—
(1) Small instruments as carry-on baggage.— An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other 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 Administrator; and
(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
(2) Larger instruments as carry-on baggage.— An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of paragraph (1) in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of the 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 Administrator;
(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.
(3) Large instruments as checked baggage.— An air 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 Administrator.
(b) Regulations.— Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out subsection (a).
(c) Effective Date.— The requirements of this section shall become effective on the date of issuance of the final regulations under subsection (b).
This petition goes to President Obama as well because Ray Lahood does not have a public email address.
For examples of the problems airlines cause to musicians, here are a few links:
Musician ordered to fly cello first class
Flying with my cello: One traveler's nightmare
Airline destroys $13,800 viola
'Musician's worst nightmare': Vintage Gibson guitar mangled by airline baggage handlers