08 April 2009

Carrying Musical Insruments on Aircraft

AirSafe.com covered many issues related to checked and carry-on baggage at tsa.airsafe.org, but didn't address musical instruments. In short, if it can fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat, you should be able to carry it on board the aircraft.

TSA recommends that you check with your airline prior to your flight to ensure your instrument meets the size requirements for their aircraft. Some aircraft may have particularly small overhead compartments. Also, larger instruments in checked baggage may have size or weight limitations.

While they recommend that you travel with brass instruments in your checked baggage, there is nothing in any of the TSA's other recommendations that ban smaller brass instruments from carry-on.

They do recommend that you travel with you stringed instruments as a carry-on item if it is small enough. By the way, your airline may allow you to purchase a separate ticket for a larger instrument.

If you have an instrument in your checked baggage, include instructions, where a security officer will notice them, for handling and repacking your instrument. Make sure these instructions are very clear and understandable to someone who knows nothing about the instrument, especially the easily damaged areas of the instrument.

If you have electronic instruments that are small enough to take as carry-ons, be prepared to take it out for inspection.

Speaking of inspections, the TSA allows you to carry one musical instrument in addition to a carry-on and one personal item through the screening checkpoint. Airlines may or may not allow the additional carry-on item on their aircraft. Please check with your airline before you arrive at the airport.

Security officers must x-ray or physically screen your instrument before it can be transported on an aircraft. If the instrument has to be inspected, try to stay with the instrument and be prepared to offer the security screener advice on how to handle the instrument.

Allow extra time for screening. If security officers cannot clear the instrument through the security checkpoint as a carry-on item, you may have to go back to the check in counter and send the instrument as checked baggage. How much extra time? At least 30 minutes.

1 comment:

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