Business News Live Business

MU calls for consistency on airlines’ instrument carriage rules

By | Published on Friday 10 February 2012

The Musicians’ Union has called on the UK government to consider legislation to match that recently passed in the US that creates industry-wide standards regarding the carriage of musical instruments on aeroplanes.

This is an area the MU has been lobbying on for sometime, many musicians finding rules regarding taking instruments on flights – which currently vary from airline to airline – confusing and frustrating, and sometimes prohibitively expensive, with additional fees, where they are charged, sometimes only apparent when the musician arrives at the airport.

The confusion often covers both putting instruments in the hold and taking them on board as hand luggage (and for some musicians with instruments of high financial or emotional value, the prospect of having them stored in the hold is not especially attractive).

The MU agreed standards on the issue with the Department Of Transport in 2006 that would apply to flights under the UK jurisdiction, but those standards were merely guidelines, so many airlines still operate their own rules on this matter, some more consistently than others. In the US new laws force standards across the airline industry.

Calling for something similar in the UK, MU General Secretary John Smith told CMU: “We call on the UK government to consider introducing a similar act regarding instruments on planes as has just been passed in the US. Such a policy would make a huge difference to the lives of musicians, who often face a lottery when they fly with an instrument”.

He stressed the biggest issue – over and above any fees musicians have to pay for the transit of their instruments – was the inconsistency on rules and fees.

He continued: “The main problem is the inconsistency between airports and airline staff. You might be allowed to take your instrument into the cabin with you at no extra cost, but then be charged an extortionate fee to put it into the hold on your return flight. This is particularly unfair given that most airlines allow sports equipment, such as skis, to travel for free. For a working musician, the fee can mean the difference between a concert or gig making or losing money – and that’s without even counting the potential cost of a damaged instrument”.