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Musicians Fly With Ease

In February, Congress passed a Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that includes new standards for storing instruments on planes. Pending issuance of final regulations, the amended law will let travelers carry any instrument or related gear onto an airplane that can be safely stored in the cabin, rather than risk it being damaged in the plane's cargo hold or during baggage handling.

Included as an amendment to section 403 ("Musical Instruments") of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (H.R. 658), the bill provides airport personnel with specific guidelines for carry-on instruments, including when musicians may purchase a separate seat for an oversized or fragile instrument, as well as weight and size limits for storing a larger instrument in a plane's cargo area.

Also, guitar-sized or smaller instruments will be allowed on-board at no extra charge as long as they can be safely stowed in a baggage compartment or under the passenger's seat. Instruments that are too large to be safely stored overhead or under a seat but don't weigh more than 165 pounds may still be carried on-board. However, the owner will have to purchase a separate seat in order to accommodate the instrument. Owners who want to transport larger instruments as checked baggage will be allowed to do so, assuming the instrument weighs 165 pounds or less and the circumference of the instrument doesn't exceed 150 inches.