Travelling with musical instruments can be a stressful experience for professional musicians, especially when it comes to air travel. In the past, some resorted to buying a separate seat just for their instrument, while others were hesitant to pass a valuable or irreplaceable instrument with other luggage in the cargo hold. The rules and requirements for carrying instruments on board vary from airline to airline and sometimes from flight to flight, making it difficult to plan ahead. Fortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established a standard that requires carriers to allow passengers to carry and store a small musical instrument, such as a violin or guitar, in an appropriate luggage compartment, such as the upper compartment or under the seats. However, this does not mean that musicians are free from additional costs and risks.
Insurance is still necessary to cover damage and repair costs if damage occurs. Additionally, airlines may charge extra fees for carrying instruments on board. For example, United Airlines recently announced a new fare structure that charges passengers an extra fee for carrying instruments in the upper compartment. This could result in musicians paying more for tickets in order to continue using the upper compartment for their instruments. The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) should address this issue as soon as possible because it is inevitable that other airlines will adopt this new fare structure in order to remain competitive.
It is important for musicians to be aware of the restrictions and regulations when travelling with musical instruments by airplane so they can plan ahead and make informed decisions.