As someone who has brought an instrument on airplanes before and faced widely different “rules” about them, I can understand how many musicians will be happy with the latest DOT ruling on instruments as cabin baggage on airlines.
The new rules are set to go into affect at the end of next month and only covers smaller instruments aboard the cabin (such as violins and guitars), not larger instruments checked as baggage. The rules prohibit the airline from charging a fee beyond fees that airlines may charge for carry-on bags.
The DOT ruling also reminds passengers that the overhead bin space is a first come, first serve space and passengers that wish to stow their instruments aboard the plane should try to board earlier. For passengers without elite status that means that passengers should consider getting the airline’s co-branded credit card which often offers a better boarding zone (such as zone 2).
Here is a partial quote from the ruling:
This rule requires that carriers must allow a passenger to carry into the cabin and stow a
small musical instrument, such a violin or a guitar, in a suitable baggage compartment, such as
the overhead bin or under the seats in accordance with FAA safety regulations.
This should greatly help in standardizing airlines’ handling of on-board instruments and what is allowed, what isn’t, and fees they make like charge. It is an uncomfortable position for a musician to show up at the airport and then be told that they can bring their violin on-board or they need to pay an added fee.
To read more about the DOT ruling, click here.