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The U.S. Department of Transportation earlier this month issued new regulations regarding the transport of musical instruments on commercial airliners. Specifically, the USDOT clarified a pertinent section of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012.

The summary of the policy, which was published on Jan. 5 in the Federal Register, indicates that “this rule responds to difficulties musicians have encountered when transporting their instruments during air travel.”

The new guidelines spell out the conditions under which musical instruments can be transported as carry-on items and/or checked baggage. The background section of the USDOT’s final rule indicates that “during the past year, the Department has been engaged in dialogue with musicians as well as representatives of airlines and industry associations to address the difficulties musicians face when traveling by air with musical instruments” and “the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has shared with the airline industry a survey it conducted among its members that identified problematic areas when traveling by air with instruments.”

On its website, the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization Americans for the Arts said “the provision was supported by nonprofit arts organizations, including Americans for the Arts; these organizations had long advocated for uniform regulations for the handling of musical instruments as carry-on luggage.” Americans for the Arts called the rule’s implementation a “victory for musicians and their instruments.”

Musicians intending to travel with instruments should read pertinent portions of the USDOT’s final rule and visit the agency’s website for information about “Traveling with a Musical Instrument.”

We’d love to hear from individuals who’ve run into trouble traveling with musical instruments as well as those who might have suggestions for doing so.

— Arts Council Staff

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