February 9, 2012

U.S. Congress says instruments will be allowed as airplane carry-ons

The Lawton Philharmonic Ore
Oklahomans for the Arts participated in a phone conference today with Americans for the Arts in which arts administrators declared an arts advocacy victory for air passengers who travel with musical instruments. The following is a news release from the American Federation of Musicians.

Americans for the Arts, of which our board member, Ken Fergeson, is president, was very involved in advocating for musicians in this regard. Congratulations to AFTA and musicians traveling with instruments the world over!

AFM News Release

The AFM applauds the passage of the FAA Bill that sets a consistent national policy allowing musical instruments on airplanes.

After five years and 23 short-term extensions, Congress has passed legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the next four years. Included in the bill are provisions that create a uniform national policy regarding musical instruments on airplanes. Any instrument that can be safely stored in the overhead compartment or underneath the seat may be brought on board as carry-on luggage. Additionally, the bill sets standard weight and size requirements for checked instruments, and permits musicians to purchase a seat for oversized instruments, such as cellos, that are too delicate to be checked. Existing law allowed each airline to set their own policy regarding musical instruments, and size requirements varied widely for both carry-on and checked baggage. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has been lobbying Congress to enact such a policy for nearly a decade.

"This is great news for professional musicians throughout the U.S. and Canada who carry the tools of our trade – our instruments – aboard commercial aircraft," said AFM President Ray Hair. "Ending the confusion over musical instruments as carry-on baggage has been a top legislative priority for nearly a decade. I am proud of our Government Relations Director, Hal Ponder and his assistant Laura Brigandi in our Washington legislative office for seeing the effort through. Musicians can now fly in friendlier skies."

The FAA reauthorization was passed by the House of Representatives on Friday, February 3 by a 248-169 vote. It subsequently passed the Senate on Monday, February 6, 75-20. The President is expected to sign the bill into law.

Oklahomans for the Arts, Inc.