NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Good news for Nashville's music industry. Beginning March 1, all U.S. airlines must allow musicians to carry on their instruments when they fly.
Last month, NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposed how musicians have been routinely forced by airlines to check their guitars, violins, and banjos, and how these instruments often wind up damaged or even destroyed during flights.
Congress passed a law nearly three years ago to allow musicians to carry on smaller instruments. But as our investigation found, that law never took effect because the U.S. Department of Transportation failed to come up with the required guidelines for the airlines by the February deadline this year.
The D.O.T. finally issued those rules Tuesday which said as long as there's space either in an overhead bin or under a seat when a passenger boards, he or she may bring their instrument with them on the plane.
The new rules take effect in 60 days.
Two men who worked to get the law passed were both quite happy to hear this. Congressman Jim Cooper told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "I've been pushing hard for the federal government to protect our musicians and instruments," while Dave Pomeroy, President of Nashville Musicians Association, called it "a huge step forward for musicians who need to be able to travel safely with the tools of their trade."
Congressman Jim Cooper's full statement:
"I've been pushing hard for the federal government to protect our musicians and our musical instruments. Finally, the FAA is allowing guitars in overhead bins on airlines. You won't have to check your instrument underneath the plane. You'll be able to carry onboard and keep it safe."
Full statement provided by Dave Pomeroy.
“On behalf of the AFM and the Nashville Musicians Association, we are very glad to see that the DOT has followed up with the final rules for carrying instruments on planes, so that the FAA Modernization Act that was passed almost 3 years ago can finally be enforced in a consistent fashion. No doubt there will be a bump or two as airlines, and especially their employees, learn to comply with the FAA rules, but this is a huge step forward for musicians who need to be able to travel safely with the tools of their trade. I am very pleased to have been a part of this important process, and appreciate everyone involved for their efforts on this important issue for musicians.”