Written by Cory M. Clark, all opinions expressed do not reflect my employer nor past employers.
Airlines, which previously have allowed passengers to bring musical instruments on board aircraft as long as they were checked in as luggage, have lost the battle. Airlines in the United States must now allow passengers to bring musical instruments on the plane as carry-ons, regardless of size, as long as they fit in overhead baggage compartments. Congress actually passed a law about this, stating that
“An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other 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 ….”
As a frequent flyer and someone who works in the aviation industry, I fully support musicians bringing musical instruments onto the aircraft. However, and this is a big however, if it is going to impact multiple passengers by preventing them from putting baggage in the overhead compartment, then the instrument should have to be checked in. When speaking to people about this very subject, they said they thought musicians should have the right to bring it on and should be allowed, no matter what. I disagree in that it causes other passengers to be inconvenienced when they are following the proper baggage rules.
The average overhead baggage compartment can hold 5 bags, that is five different people can put their carry on bags into the compartment. For the purposes of this discussion, let’s assume that those five people are flying during the summer, so we won’t consider bulky jackets and coats. One person, the musician, has a guitar in addition to his carry-on bag, and he decides to put the guitar up into the overhead bin and put his bag in the overhead bin across the aisle. The other five people in the row now rush to put their bags in the overhead bin, but now there are only 4 spaces remaining in one overhead bin, and none left in the other. This means that up to 5 people can’t put their items into an overhead bin. Is it fair that the person that is bringing carry on luggage and has paid a fee or has to catch a connecting flight now has to check their baggage?
The example I gave above only deals with up to 5 people being inconvenienced and we all know the baggage compartments are always full so it’s likely that many people will be inconvenienced because of this one person’s large musical instrument. I am 100% for people being allowed to bring musical instruments and other baggage into the cabin; however, when it is going to inconvenience other passengers it should not be allowed.