That whooshing sound you hear is millions of guitar players exhaling in one, collective sigh of relief.
On December 30, 2014, the U.S. Department of Transportation finally issued a final rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (Pub. L. 112-95, 49 U.S.C. §41724) regarding the carriage of musical instruments as carry-on baggage or checked baggage on commercial passenger flights operated by air carriers.
The final rule does not change the earlier provisions of the Act, but mercifully puts a period at the end of the sentence:
"Section 403 of the Act and this final rule provide that carriers are required to allow passengers to stow their musical instruments in an approved stowage area in the cabin only if at the time the passenger boards the aircraft such stowage space is available.
"With the exception of certain disability assistance devices, overhead bins or under seat stowage space is available to all passengers and crew members for their carry-on baggage on a “first come, first served” basis. Accordingly, carriers are not required to remove other passengers’ or crew members’ carry-on baggage that is already stowed in order to make space for a musical instrument. However, this also means carriers are not allowed to require a passenger to remove his or her musical instrument that is already safely stowed (e.g., in the overhead bin) to make room for carry-on baggage of other passengers who boarded the aircraft later than the passenger with the musical instrument.
"This is true even if the space taken by the musical instrument could accommodate one or more other carry-on items."
Hallelujah! The entire text of the Final Rule is available here.
The DOT has also provided a helpful page with links to procedures for complaining to an airline or to the DOT regarding air travel with instruments, and tips for traveling with a musical instrument, available here.
Best practices? PRINT A COPY OF THE RULE AND CARRY IT WITH YOU WHEN YOU TRAVEL so you can stop arguing with that officious ticket agent who insists that you have to check your guitar as baggage or buy another seat for it. And exhale. While you’re at it, add a couple of words—we call that singing. And this is definitely worth singing about!!
Singer-songwriter Laura Zucker wins audiences over with a hard-won perspective and a positive spin. The powerful imagery of her songs and stories ring so true you might think she’s read your diary – and you’ll find yourself humming her infectious melodies for days to come. She’s a two-time finalist in the prestigious Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk competition in Texas, 2013 West Coast Songwriters Association Best Song of the Year, and has received numerous accolades and awards from the organizations around the world. She has released four CDs of original songs with the latest, Life Wide Open, released in late 2013. Find tour dates, music and more at LauraZucker.com