New U.S. DOT Ruling a Welcome Change for Traveling Musicians

U.S. DOT logoTraveling by plane just got a little easier for some musicians, thanks to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DOT issued a final rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The rule requires airline carriers to allow passengers to carry on small musical instruments, including violins and guitars. The instruments must be stowed in the overhead bin, under the seat or in a baggage compartment. Airlines cannot charge a fee above a usual carry-on fee for bringing instruments into the cabin.

The new ruling will go into effect at the end of February 2015.

“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,” the Department of Transportation stated. “Several members of various musician organizations described problems that musicians encounter when traveling by air with their musical instruments.”

“At DOT, we know how important instruments are to musicians and are committed to doing everything we can to ensure that they are not damaged while being transported on airlines,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “This final rule implements the statute, and it will go a long way towards keeping instruments safe when they fly – from allowing them in the cabin if there’s space for safe stowage, to letting passengers buy a seat for certain large instruments.”

Travel tips were also offered for musicians, including paying for priority boarding to ensure they board the plane before storage space for instruments runs out. “Because the rule does not require that musical instruments be given priority over other carry-on baggage, we encourage passengers traveling with musical instruments to take steps to board before as many other passengers as possible to ensure that space will be available for them,” the DOT said.


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Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at

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