Which airlines are best for musicians travelling with instruments?

The International Federation of Musicians has identified the airlines that give you the most favourable treatment if you are travelling with your instrument.

Plane taking off
A plane takes off from JFK International Airport. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The FIM ranks airlines green if they permit instruments to be carried in the cabin when they fit in the overhead locker or under the seat in front of the passenger regardless of size, which is the  USFAA regulation. Reflecting the repeated problems musicians have encountered in recent times, only 11 airlines make the grade, including Air Canada, American Airlines, Air Brussels and Southwest Airlines.

Airlines that do not comply with USFAA regulations but which have larger size limitations for instruments compared to normal baggage are rated orange, while those applying the same size to instruments and cabin baggage get a thumbs down with a red mark.

By far the majority of airlines surveyed, a total of 79, are ranked red, with 29 getting orange status. Some of the best known in the red category are Air France, Air Berlin, Lufthansa, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic.

The IFM cautions that its list offers no guarantee that the best-ranked airlines will accept an instrument. They point out that instruments are only accepted if there is enough room in the cabin and that musicians are advised to get to the gate early.

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