For musicians there may be a belated Christmas present as US airlines introduce a rule that standardises how musical instruments are handled on flights.
The US Transportation Department finalised the rule yesterday that now requires airlines to allow small instruments such as guitars or violins as carry-on bags in overhead storage or under seats.
The long-awaited rule, which the US Congress ordered to become Federal Aviation Administration law in February 2012, anticipated possible discord if an instrument occupies space that could otherwise accommodate two or three carry on bags.
But the rule says musical instruments should be treated just like any other carry-on bags, on a first-come, first-served basis. So nobody has to remove a bag to make room for a guitar, but once the guitar is in the overhead locker, its owner doesn’t have to move it for anyone else.
The new rule also covers larger instruments such as tubas weighing up to 165 pounds. The rule also says travelers can buy a seat if they want to transport larger instruments in the cabin, but the instrument must be strapped down without blocking emergency exits or signs.
The US Department Of Transportation has set up a website to help musicians.
It is not clear whether this will be adopted by non US airlines but it is a step in the right direction.