This won’t be a ‘recommendation’ or ‘guideline’ much longer. Effective March 6th, 2015, it’s the law. As of Monday, January 5th, the US Department of Transportation has issued its Final Rule of Law that dictates that all US-based carriers must allow musicians to carry a guitar, violin, or other similarly-sized instrument if room exists.
§ 251.3 Small musical instruments as carry-on baggage.
Each covered carrier shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other small musical instrument in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to any standard fee that carrier may require for comparable carry-on baggage, if:
(a) The instrument can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft cabin or under a passenger seat, in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the FAA; and
(b) There is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
This all started with a bunch of pissed-off musicians, like Deer Tick, whose nightmarish experience with luggage provoked a major reaction in Congress. There’s also this music video inspired by United Airlines insisting that a guitar could not be carried on board, then destroying it.
Here’s the complete, updated body of law, which musicians should feel free to present to any uncooperative airline agent.