DOT Rules on Flying With Musical Instruments


US airlines must accept musical instruments as carry-on or checked baggage on commercial passenger flights, when certain conditions are met, according to a new rule implemented by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

On Dec. 30, the DOT issued a final rule to implement section 403 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. The rule, which takes effect on March 6, requires carriers to accept musical instruments in the cargo compartment as checked baggage if those instruments comply with the size and weight limitations provided in Section 403 and the FAA’s safety regulations.

Carriers must allow passengers to stow their small musical instruments in an approved stowage area in the cabin if at the time the passenger boards the aircraft such stowage space is available. For some musical instruments that are too large to fit in the cabin stowage areas described in the carrier’s FAA-approved carry-on baggage program (i.e., an overhead bin or under a seat), it is sometimes possible to secure them to a seat as “seat baggage” or “cargo in passenger cabin.”

The final rule applies to scheduled and charter flights in domestic or international transportation operated by US carriers, regardless of the size of the aircraft they operate.