December 31, 2014
Dear Member,

I am pleased to announce that on December 30, 2014 the United States Department of Transportation released the long awaited final administrative rule which fully implements section 403 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2012 – the law authorizing musical instruments as carry-on baggage onboard US air carriers.  This historic accomplishment was led by your Union and made possible through efforts by Members of Congress who are longtime AFM allies, and officers and rank and file members of Local 161-710, Washington, DC.  We were also assisted by the Department of Professional Employees, AFL-CIO and by many of our music industry partners.

I am currently analyzing the rule in order to bring you a concise, comprehensive explanation of these new policies and how they affect you.  Look for that analysis soon at www.afm.org and in the February edition of the International Musician.  However, I'd like to bring to your attention several important points that I believe are worthy of your immediate attention.

  • Airlines are required to allow small musical instruments, such as a violin or guitar, to be carried into the cabin and stowed in approved stowage spaces, if available, and/or under the seat.
  • Once safely stowed, airlines cannot require passengers to remove their instruments, even if space taken by their instrument could accommodate one or more other carry-on items.
  • Airlines cannot charge an additional fee for instruments as carry-on or checked baggage other than any standard fee imposed by the carrier.
  • Airlines are now required to train air crews, gate agents, counter agents and baggage personnel concerning appropriate procedures necessary to comply with all FAA musical instrument transportation policies.

Those of you interested in reading the rule can do so here: http://www.dot.gov/airconsumer/final-rule-musical-instruments.

I want to acknowledge the work of our National Legislative Office-Office of Government Relations and the two Directors who helped usher this process through to the end – Alfonso Pollard, our current Director and former Director Hal Ponder, who retired in the spring of 2013.  Special recognition is in order for International Executive Board Member and Local 257 President Dave Pomeroy, Local 161-710 President Ed Malaga and Secretary Treasurer Marta Bradley, and National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) violist and ICSOM Governing Board Member Jennifer Mondie, who attended my recent meetings with Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, his General Counsel Kathryn Thomson and DOT Deputy Assistant General Counsel, Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings and their staff.  I believe it was the impromptu solo performances by Dave and Jennifer at our discussion sessions that may have led the Federal Government to finally come around to our way of thinking.  I also want to thank major and regional airline executives for their work and cooperation in bringing these important new policies to fruition.

Finally, please accept my best wishes for a happy, healthy and productive New Year!

Sincerely and fraternally yours,

Raymond M. Hair, Jr., International President
American Federation of Musicians
of the United States and Canada