Now you can know the truth.
Among musicians, it depends who you ask whether you’ll hear answers ranging from “No, they’ll make you buy a seat” to “Yes, no matter what,” and virtually every variation of the two. The short answer is yes, you can bring your guitar on the plane as a carry-on, and here’s why: The FAA MODERNIZATION AND REFORM ACT OF 2012. Before you travel, it’s important to know that some limits have been imposed on the size and weight of the instrument, however, this shouldn’t be a problem for guitarists. For those who travel with skeptical companions and who want to see the rules for themselves, point them to Section 403, which states:
SEC. 403. MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS.
(a) IN GENERAL.—Subchapter I of chapter 417 is amended by adding at the end the following:
‘‘§ 41724. Musical instruments
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—
‘‘(1) SMALL INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE.—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 carryon 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 Administrator; and
‘‘(B) there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.
‘‘(2) LARGER INSTRUMENTS AS CARRY-ON BAGGAGE.—An air carrier providing air transportation shall permit a passenger to carry a musical instrument that is too large to meet the requirements of paragraph (1) in the aircraft cabin, without charging the passenger a fee in addition to the cost of the additional ticket described in subparagraph (E), if—
‘‘(A) the instrument is contained in a case or covered so as to avoid injury to other passengers;
‘‘(B) the weight of the instrument, including the case or covering, does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft;
‘‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator;
‘‘(D) neither the instrument nor the case contains any object not otherwise permitted to be carried in an aircraft cabin because of a law or regulation of the United States; and
‘‘(E) the passenger wishing to carry the instrument in the aircraft cabin has purchased an additional seat to accommodate the instrument.
Also included in the regulations, but may not apply to guitar
‘‘(3) LARGE INSTRUMENTS AS CHECKED BAGGAGE.—An air carrier shall transport as baggage a musical instrument that is the property of a passenger traveling in air transportation that may not be carried in the aircraft cabin if—
‘‘(A) the sum of the length, width, and height measured in inches of the outside linear dimensions of the instrument (including the case) does not exceed 150 inches or the applicable size restrictions for the aircraft;
‘‘(B) the weight of the instrument does not exceed 165 pounds or the applicable weight restrictions for the aircraft; and
‘‘(C) the instrument can be stowed in accordance with the requirements for carriage of carry-on baggage or cargo established by the Administrator.
“(b) REGULATIONS.—Not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of this section, the Secretary shall issue final regulations to carry out subsection (a). ‘
“(c) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The requirements of this section shall become effective on the date of issuance of the final regulations under subsection (b).’’.
“(b) CONFORMING AMENDMENT.—The analysis for such subchapter is amended by adding at the end the following: ‘‘41724. Musical instruments.’’.
The language seems to imply that airlines can make some decisions about larger instruments at their discretion, especially if there is no more space: [as long as] “… there is space for such stowage at the time the passenger boards the aircraft.” It’s safe to assume that they will work with you as airlines may not want negative publicity from a songwriting guitarist with a YouTube channel, like Dave Carroll. That was a mess!
Here’s the entire document: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-112hrpt381/pdf/CRPT-112hrpt381.pdf
Frequentscene is written by Adam Zuñiga, guitarist for Austin-based Hours Quiet, Love Hate Affair and San Antonio-based Adam Zuniga Project. Adam recently graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio, where he majored in Philosophy and minored in Religious Studies. Despite a number of personal attributes which seem consistent with the disposition of a typical musician, he prefers mornings.