The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada, AFL-CIO (AFM) today applauded Delta Airlines’ recent decision to allow small musical instruments and guitars on board all flights. The AFM urged all other airlines to immediately implement formal policies that allow musical instruments to be carried on board.
Restrictions on carry-on items were tightened following 9/11. In response, the AFM lobbied Congress and the administration, seeking support for carry-on rules that reflected the value of musical instruments and the importance of allowing them on board. The AFM’s efforts were successful in winning a formal statement from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allowing passengers to carry one musical instrument through security screening checkpoints in addition to the standard allotment of one carry-on and one personal item.
Ultimately, most airlines allowed musicians to carry on their instruments. But each airline is free to impose its own restrictions, and Delta continued to be the most restrictive.
In 2006, AFM instituted an internal boycott that asked all of the union’s 100,000 members plus all local and international leadership not to fly the airline. Upon Delta’s announcement of its new policy allowing instruments on board, the union’s International Executive Board today voted to lift the boycott against Delta.
“We’re extremely pleased that Delta has finally responded to the needs of our members and has instituted this policy,” AFM President Thomas Lee said. “Delta’s refusal to allow people to bring their very delicate and often very expensive and irreplaceable instruments on board instead of having to check them has been a tremendous hardship for AFM members and all musicians. We’re pleased that Delta recognized that these instruments are valuable possessions and should be treated that way, and we applaud their decision.”
In addition to its carry-on policy, Delta also improved its checked baggage policy. Previously, Delta only accepted checked baggage that measured 80 linear inches or less with a weight limit of 80 pounds. Checked items can now measure up to 120 linear inches and weigh up to 100 pounds, good news for musicians traveling with large instruments.
“Other airlines have been more tolerant and helpful to musicians, and have been more lenient in allowing them to bring their instruments safely on board,” Lee continued. “Our union now asks the other airlines to take a further step and adopt Delta’s carry-on and checked baggage policies for musical instruments.”
The American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada is the largest organization in the world representing the interests of musicians, with approximately 100,000 members in the United States and Canada. Whether negotiating fair agreements, protecting ownership of recorded music, securing benefits such as health care and pension, or lobbying our legislators, the AFM is committed to raising industry standards and placing the professional musician in the foreground of the cultural landscape.