Instruments Cleared For Takeoff

Musicians may soon be able to take small instruments into the cabin of airplanes, following a vote by the European Parliament. 


Various professional bodies including the UK’s Musicians’ Union and the international Federation of Musicians have spent about 10 years lobbying for a change that will make life much easier for traveling musos.

Four years ago, Irish-based airline Ryanair even faced a boycott by the Facebook group Musicians Against Ryanair, Problems for the musicians – and tour managers – were exacerbated by international airlines not having a common policy on the matter.

More than 40,000 people have signed a petition to persuade Europe to bring in legislation to clarify rules on the carrying of instruments. Two months ago, the European parliament appears to have come some way to rectifying the problem by voting in favour of the air carriers having to accept smaller instruments into the passenger cabin.

The parliament also says airlines must clearly indicate the terms and conditions for the transport of larger instruments in the cargo hold.

The measures came as part of a package of proposals designed to make it more likely that air travelers will enjoy their flights.

“The MU has been lobbying on this issue for years and actually reached an agreement with the Department for Transport in 2006,” explained MU general secretary John Smith. “But we have long been saying that it is only by working at a European and international level that we can successfully tackle this issue, as the problem is much broader than just UK airlines.

“I am delighted that the European Parliament has voted in favour of this proposal, which will make such a difference to working musicians,” he said.

Smith also urged the European Council of Ministers to follow its parliament’s advice, the next step in the EU process of making European law.

The other changes the European Parliament wants to see include airlines being forced to provide water and open lavatories if a plane is stuck on the tarmac for more than an hour. It also says passengers should be entitled to compensation if a flight is significantly delayed for technical reasons.