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Delta Airlines Changes Instrument Carry-On Policy

Lost and damaged baggage is rough on any traveler, but for a musician, few things can be more nerve-racking than the thought of a treasured guitar tumbling and slamming around in the hull of an airplane. At least on one airline, musicians may get a break from broken instruments.

In a move publicly praised by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), Delta Airlines has decided to rollback its strict policies regarding the transportation of instruments as carry-on baggage. Since post-9/11 changes in baggage regulations, the airline had developed a poor reputation for refusing to cooperate with musicians who requested to bring on carry-on instruments, specifically guitars. With its 100,000 members, the AFM union levied a boycott of Delta flights in 2006, which has since been lifted.

“We’re extremely pleased that Delta has finally responded to the needs of our members and has instituted this policy,” said AFM president Thomas Lee in a press statement. “Delta’s refusal to allow people to bring their very delicate and often very expensive and irreplaceable instruments onboard 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.”

Delta now says the following on its Web sites regarding taking music instruments on flights as carry-on baggage:

“We know that your musical instrument is important to you and depending on the size, we accept musical instruments or equipment as checked baggage, carry-on baggage, or cabin-seat baggage. Please help us to keep your instrument safe by bringing it in a hard-shell case.”

In addition to changing its policies regarding carry-on instruments, Delta has also expanded the maximum dimensions for checked-instruments, now allowing a combined (length + width + height) size of 120 inches and 100 lbs.

For musicians carrying instruments, most airlines require the instrument to fit the limited specifications of a typical carry-on bag. Problems often occur for guitar-owners. Those unwilling to risk checking a valued instrument have the admittedly costly option of purchasing an extra cabin seat.

For more information on Delta’s instrument carry-on policies, visit the airline’s official Web site.

Originally Published