October 18, 2019

Tips for traveling with instruments

If you’re traveling by plane and wondering if you can bring your musical instrument(s) as carry-on, the U.S. Department of Transportation has issued its “final rule” on traveling with instruments. These guidelines were issued on January 5, 2015 so they’re probably the latest word (although you may want to contact the U.S. DOT to be sure–see contact info below).

The guidelines were issued after a year of discussions with musicians and representatives of airlines and industry associations, as well as a review of the results of a member survey conducted by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) identifying problem areas when traveling by air with instruments.

The Department has a Web page that provides useful information on air travel with musical instruments, including the entire rules document, as well as a shorter “tips” document.

The web page:

The “tips” document:

The complete rules document: http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/Musical%20instruments_FR_final%20rule.pdf

It’s a good idea that you be as informed as possible because there’s no guarantee that airline staff will be completely knowledgeable about these rules. For more information, contact the DOT as follows:
Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings
Aviation Consumer Protection Division
Phone: (202) 366-2220
TTTY/Assistive Device: (202) 366-0511
Business Hours: 8:30am-5:00pm ET, M-F