Flying with your instrument

Tony Rice pictured with his flight case on the cover of "Me and My Guitar"Many, if not most, of us have experienced the frustration of flying with an instrument. Fine and vintage instruments are of such high value, checking that instrument through the airline’s baggage handling is not a risk musicians tend to be comfortable with. The airlines are not consistent in allowing an instrument to be carried into the cabin, and we are faced with checking a valued instrument, traveling with less than our favorite/best, or risking a fight with the boarding crew each time we fly.

It was just last year that Dave Carroll waged his musical attach on United Airlines after they broke his Taylor guitar. He had hoped that a solution would be offered by the airline, but none seemed forthcoming.

WAMU’s Bluegrass Country now brings us the news that both houses of Congress are working to pass bills addressing this issue. The Senate version of the bill has passed and would require the airlines to allow a passenger to carry on an instrument “free of charge”. The House version of the bill lacks that specific language while also reserving to the airlines the right to require such a passenger to purchase insurance for the value of the instrument.

The American Federation of Musicians has a petition on their web site to supports the passage of the Senate version of the FAA Reauthorization Act.

Congressional leaders hope to have a bill before the President to sign by the end of March 2011.

You can read the full story, including the actual text of both bills, at

You can read and sign the petition here.