Traveling with your gear is one of the most stressful aspects of being a musician on the road. While the notion of a tour bus or road trip is exciting, air travel is often the easiest way to get to your gig. Unfortunately, carrying your instrument on the plane is, at the least, discouraged and often outright prohibited by airlines. And checking your instruments feels like sending your baby to the slaughter - visions of it being thrown around or left lonely on the tarmac (we took this pic from an airport in Colorado in December).
The issue has caused musicians to speak out and choose other modes of transport. Over the summer, the band Deer Tick got kicked off their US Airways flight after being denied to bring their guitar on board. They insisted on going on the Amtrak instead of checking their instruments with the rest of the luggage.
The US Department of Transportation has been paying close attention to the issue, even hosting a "Flying with Musical Instruments" meeting over the summer. The DOT has now issued a Final Rule of Law requiring that all US-based airline carriers allow musicians to carry a guitar, violin, or other similar instrument on an airplane if room exists. The law goes into effect March 6th 2015. There seems to be some wiggle rooms for airlines to comply - we've all heard the "there's no room" excuse before. But it's definitely start!
§ 251.3 Small musical instruments as carry-on baggage.
Each covered carrier shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other small 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 FAA; and
(b) There is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
Want more info on the history, benefits, and what to do with large instruments? Check out the overview and full text of the law here.