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Rachel Barton Pine

Pilot Rejects Violin

violinOn March 6 of last year, following nearly three years of lobbying and negotiation between music stakeholders (represented by the AFM) and DOT officials, details of the rules for bringing musical instruments onboard US airlines were announced. Though musicians are experiencing less problems since the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the regulation is only effective if the airline crew is ready and willing to abide by its rules. Among those guidelines, US carriers are required to allow passengers to board with small musical instruments, like a violin, provided it could be stored in an overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you.

On April 17 internationally acclaimed violinist and Local 20-208 (Chicago, IL) member Rachel Barton Pine was denied boarding with her violin—a 1742 Joseph Guarneri “del Gesu” violin. The instrument, insured for $20 million, is on lifetime loan from an anonymous benefactor. Pine was the first person down the jetway to her American Airlines flight, and her only other carry-on was her purse. It was the pilot who eyed her violin and stated he would not allow it on his plane. She tried to explain that it would fit (as it had many times before) in the overhead compartment and tried to restate American Airline’s own policy, in line with the FAA Modernization and Reform Act.

The pilot simply stated: “It is not going on because I say so.” Pine was forced to take another flight in the morning where her violin was easily accommodated in the overhead compartment.

“The Department of Transportation and the airlines have established important policies to protect musical instruments. However, those policies are meaningless if they are not enforced, or if the airline staff and crews are not properly educated and trained,” she says.

Rachel Pine Performs for Homeless Shelter


The largest homeless shelter in Washington D.C. the D.C. Community for Creative Non Violence, which feeds over a thousand homeless people, experienced a world renowned guest – professional violinist Rachel Barton Pine of Local 10-208 (Chicago, IL). She has played around the world and is internationally known, but she decided to play for only a dozen people this time.

Pine says she was not so different from those in the shelter. “We were always getting our electricity and phone cut off, and were one missed payment from losing the roof over our heads.” She goes on to say, “My father had left the family by that point and, sure enough, he became homeless.”

Pine says it was a shelter like the Community for Creative Non Violence that helped her father get back on his feet. It’s an inspirational story that Pine wanted to share, and a story that many people took to heart.

Kenneth Price, a man staying at the shelter, said, “Her story is almost like mine. Her father was homeless, me, my girlfriend passed away, then that’s how I got homeless.”

David Basnight, another resident of the shelter, was also inspired. “It gives me the motivation when I leave here today to go try to get me an apartment or something because if she did what she did and got as far as she got, I know I can do the same thing.”

It goes without saying what Pine has done is more than simply play a few songs. She has inspired and motivated, all while staying extremely humble.

“Music is coming from a higher power and I’m a conduit for that.”

Other Interesting News Items

Instrument Carry-on Rule for Flights Pleases Musicians 

DOT Harmonizes Rules for Musical Instruments on Flights 

Musicians Get Approval to Carry on Instruments When Flying 

DOT Final Rule on Musical Instruments in the Cabin 

DOT Updates Rules for Musical Instruments on Planes 

U.S. DoT Issues Final Rule – Air Travel with Musical Instruments 

Hey, Rockstars, You Can Now Legally Bring Your Instrument as a Carry On