Senator Jack Reed: We Need Carry-On Rules for Instruments

Friday, August 01, 2014

instrument passenger on a plane instrument passenger on a plane (dmuth/flickr)

Last month, John McCauley of the band Deer Tick was preparing to fly to the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island when he was told by the airline, US Airways, that he'd have to check his guitar. Knowing what can happen to instruments that get checked on planes, he wound up taking a train to Rhode Island instead. U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) heard about the incident and decided to get involved.

Reed wrote to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, calling on his department to finalize and enact a 2012 law that stated that passengers can take instruments on planes as long as they can be safely stowed.

In this exclusive interview with WQXR, Reed says that without clear regulations, airlines will operate in a gray area and musicians will face more troubles. "We want the rules spelled out so a musician or anyone bringing an instrument will know exactly what his or her rights are when they board the aircraft," he said. Reed also says:

  • Why he believes the law hasn't been finalized yet.
  • What musicians flying with carry-on instruments can do in the meantime.
  • What kinds of practical measures he hopes will be covered by the legislation.
Jack Reed (D), Senator from Rhode Island
Jack Reed (D), Senator from Rhode Island



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Comments [9]

manhattanflutemom from Manhattan

Right after 9/11, pre-TSA security person at Newark put my son's flute case on its edge and started to open it. I stopped her and asked her if she would pay me to replace the flute when the pieces fell out and got dented. I was getting the hairy eyeball from the National Guardsman standing there in cammo with an M-16 or whatever. Looked like he was planning to shoot me. Nothing happened but I know of a famous flutist whose instrument was wrecked by airport security.

There is a tubular flute case that would prevent this kind of damage, but not I guess if TSA were to manhandle the sections of the flute out of the case...

Glad my son went to college within driving distance, given his nearly $20,000 worth of flute and piccolo

Aug. 11 2014 05:32 PM
William Lawrence from usa

Maybe we should be required to provide in flight concerts?

Aug. 07 2014 01:40 AM
Dr. George Ellis MIms from South East

Correct, we need workable rules for Instruments in Cases,etc. but most instruments that are travelling are incredibly expensive and the rules must not treat them as second class citizens at all! There must be provision for the Instrument's safety!

Aug. 06 2014 10:43 PM

Let's not forget all the nonsense regarding ivory on bows, bagpipes, and so on. The miniscule amounts of ivory involved hardly constitute 'importation of illegal ivory', yet some inspectors don't seem to use the brains God gave them.

Aug. 06 2014 09:34 PM
Leah from new york

I have two cellist daughters. I always laugh when mail comes from southwest airlines or whoever for mr. cello goldberg. major chuckle. Mr. cello goldberg has amassed major points. over the years, particularly the years when older D was auditioning at various conservatories......and paying for a second seat. i think they (the points) may have been lost, alas. now she has an "airline case" a travel case, many professionals use them. not convinced yet that they are secure. but she, now a professional musician, made major outlay for one of these airline cello cases. Other D has never flown with cello, but i had a small car, at some stage of their lives, that could accommodate two cellos, yes a small car. Destroyed by hurricane Sandy, major heartache. but two cellists are now grown, more or less...<> Happily no horror stories. re the two cellos. although i had my own horror story at Logan Airport, not relevant. horrors of horrors. I won, it was quite a battle, hours, brought in airport security, brought in 10 , yes 10 Mass. state police, amazons, 7 foot tall each of them. I stood them down, and won. meaning that I did not let the TSA felons touch me.

Aug. 06 2014 07:01 PM
Emma from Long Island, NY

I don't get the poking in the first place - but rosin? What would you do with it? Make people a little dusty and sticky? Ha. But for some reason they didn't care about people's reed knives and/or valve oil!

Aug. 06 2014 04:26 PM
mitchw from ny

A prominent violinist told me the story of trying to get through airport security some years ago, where a guard asked him to literally open his violin. Like crack it apart so its interior could be checked. The violinist asked for a manager who did came over, and told the guard to go get some common sense. At which point the manager offered that the previous night's performance by the violinist had been very fine.

Aug. 06 2014 03:31 PM
Jim from Seattle

You were lucky, Emma from LI....many of my friends had issues with getting the instruments on the planes. Cello end pins = "weapon." Even violin bows were taken out and the musician was told that he would have to check the bows because they could be used to....poke someone? Or a flight attendant deciding at the entrance to the plane that "No, your cello cannot come on board, we are not able to accommodate that." "But I bought a separate ticket for a separate seat for it." "Oh no that won't work. Our seat belts can't go around it." "But I just flew your airline that very same flight two weeks ago." "No...." That's the kind of silliness and all-over-the-place nature of airline travel with instruments today.

Aug. 05 2014 01:13 AM
Emma from Long Island, NY

I was just on tour with my orchestra in China, and we had quite a few flights (even though only two of them were in America). Might I say - I don't think it's the putting it *on the plane* that's the problem, rather actually getting it through the airport. Surprisingly, American airports were much easier than the Chinese ones, where the security almost made us late for our flight because, apparently, rosin is a 'potentially dangerous item'.

Aug. 04 2014 01:06 PM

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