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Instruments As Carry-On

Airport security and airline regulations in general have become much tighter and more strictly enforced since the terrorist attacks of 2001. One of the unintended consequences of this clampdown has been the extreme difficulty that musicians traveling on commercial airlines with their instruments face. While the AFM appreciates that the beefed up security measures at airports is needed in this day and age, the union also believes strongly that musicians have the right to freely and conveniently travel the country in order to entertain diverse audiences and earn a living.

The Office of Government Relations was successful in obtaining from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a commitment to process instruments without any difficulties. Many problems with individual airlines, over which the TSA has no authority, still remain. This office has been negotiating with the Air Transport Association (ATA), the airline trade association, to resolve these problems, but has not yet been successful. This office has asked Congress to bring pressure on the ATA and recently obtained a letter from the Chairman of the House Transportation Committee to the ATA, asking airlines to accommodate AFM members.

In the members only section of, you can get a copy of the TSA letter outlining their instrument policy. Many members have found this letter helpful. It is available on this website for free for AFM members only. Although some of our members have had limited success showing the TSA letter to airline personnel, it is important to be aware that the TSA letter only applies to security screening and is not officially recognized by the airlines.

The TSA Letter is located in the On-line library section of myAFM. You must be logged in to view it.

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