Tag Archives: travel

Canadian Flying Guide Now Available in English and French

en français

After four years of lobbying the government of Canada, as well as meeting with airline councils, the Canadian Transport Agency, Minister of Transport, The Honorable Marc Garneau, and his staff at Transport Canada, I am pleased to share the news that, as part of the new Passenger Bill of Rights within the Canadian Transportation Act, we now have language in Canada with regard to musicians travelling with instruments on airlines in Canada.
Effective July 15, Air Passenger Protection Regulations within the Canadian Transportation Act included language to ensure that all air carriers must accept musical instruments unless security or safety is an issue. 
The airline industry battled hard to avoid the new bill, however, Minister Garneau and his staff at Transport Canada held strong in favor of passenger rights. As such a small part of a major bill, we were thrilled to affect language and changes to the industry and find support from Minister Garneau in our efforts to better represent musicians travelling in Canada.
We have prepared a Canadian Flying Guide in both English and French, which can be found online at:
www.afm.org/what-we-are-doing/travel-resources/afm-travel-kit/ under “Carry On Your Instrument” and “Carry On Your Larger Instrument” tabs
Each airline also will have clear guidelines published as part of their tariff. Under the law, all commercial airline carriers must accept musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage, unless it is contrary to general terms and conditions in the carrier’s tariff with respect to the weight or dimension of baggage or because of safety or security.
Many thanks to President Hair and VPC Alan Willaert for their support and investment into lobbying the Canadian government on behalf of all musicians.

Nouveau guide sur les déplacements en avion, en anglais et en français

Allistair Elliott, représentant international pour le Canada
Après quatre ans de lobbying auprès du gouvernement du Canada et de rencontres avec le Conseil national des lignes aériennes du Canada, l’honorable Marc Garneau ainsi que son équipe à Transport Canada, j’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer que le Canada est désormais doté d’une réglementation régissant le transport d’instruments de musique par avion dans le cadre de la Déclaration des droits des passagers aériens de la Loi sur les transports au Canada.
En vigueur depuis le 15 juillet, le Règlement sur la protection des passagers aériens, qui fait partie de la Loi sur les transports au Canada, contient des dispositions obligeant tous les transporteurs à accepter les instruments de musique à bord de leurs avions, à moins que ceux-ci ne présentent un risque pour la sécurité. 
Les compagnies aériennes se sont battues becs et ongles pour empêcher l’adoption du projet de loi, mais le ministre Garneau et le personnel de Transport Canada n’ont pas cédé. Comme nos revendications ne touchaient qu’une petite partie d’un projet de loi majeur, nous avons été ravis de constater que nous avions du poids ey que nous pouvions compter sur l’appui du ministre Garneau pour mieux défendre les intérêts des musiciens qui voyagent par avion au Canada.
Nous avons conçu un guide sur les déplacements en avion, en anglais et en français, que vous trouverez en ligne au :
www.afm.org/what-we-are-doing/travel-resources/afm-travel-kit/ Sous les onglets
« Le transport de votre instrument à bord de l’avion » et « Le transport de votre instrument de grande taille à bord des avions » de la page Trousse de voyage de l’AFM
Chaque compagnie aérienne publiera par ailleurs des directives claires dans le cadre de son tarif. En vertu de la loi, tous les transporteurs aériens commerciaux sont tenus d’accepter les instruments de musique comme bagage enregistré ou à main, à moins d’indication contraire dans les modalités générales du tarif du transporteur en ce qui a trait au poids, à la dimension ou aux risques pour la sécurité.
Je remercie chaleureusement Ray Hair, président, et Alan Willaert, vice-président, pour leur soutien et le temps qu’ils ont investi dans les activités de lobbying au nom des musiciens canadiens.

american airlines

American Airlines Eliminates Oversized Musical Instrument Fees

AFM International President Ray Hair and AFM legislative staff, after meeting and negotiating in late 2014 and early 2015 with US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, federal aviation officials, and several major and regional airlines, reached an agreement on musical instrument carry-on and checked baggage as mandated by Congress. The new rule, published in the Federal Register in 2015, outlined improved guidelines for musical instrument carry-on and large instrument storage in cargo while flying.

The initial airline rule changes (which required that US airlines accept musical instruments as carry-on or checked baggage on commercial passenger flights) have been mostly successful, but periodically have been met with resistance from a few airline gate attendants and air crews. The AFM has been monitoring the progression of these 2015 rules and reporting violations to the DOT. During those 2014-2015 discussions led by AFM President Hair, the matter of storage for larger musical instruments was covered, particularly as it relates to proper handling and damage.

For larger checked instruments that are not allowed in cabin, the rules were fairly succinct then and did not need considerable tweaking. Primarily, musical instrument safety was paramount for us and our negotiating coalition, which included the League of American Orchestras, Chamber Music America, the Department for Professional Employees AFL-CIO, the Folk Alliance, and others. The negotiating coalition pressed this point, which was predominant in those discussions.

After some years since the 2015 change in policy, this current move by American Airlines (AA) is a welcome step in the right direction. The needs of professional musicians—and musicians in general—to improve their plight when it comes to affordable travel using US airlines is again a welcomed advance. The elimination of oversize bag fees is important to, and has the potential of definitely impacting, the overall economic well-being of traveling and touring musicians and their pocketbooks. This new American Airlines policy went into effect May 21, 2019 and the company should be recognized.

At this writing, several questions remain as the AFM Legislative Office works to make direct contact with AA communications officials. Is this a permanent change; are gate staff and flight crews fully trained nationally to ensure a smooth transition in policy across airports; and will the company make this a permanent change in their Contract of Carriage and post it for all to see? The new policy states, “Customers can check common oversized sports and music equipment as standard baggage, up to the maximum allowed dimensions and within the weight requirements. Refer to the full policy for additional information.”

The AFM will continue to pursue answers to other questions, watch the reaction of other airlines, and report on the results in future issues of the IM. These questions include: Do these fees apply to large instruments that require special handling? How does this new policy affect large group carnets on American Airlines flights when ensembles are touring? Is it still possible to purchase a seat in-cabin for such instruments as cellos, etc.? Will the airline stick to its 2015 federal policy clarification allowing guitars, violins, and other small instruments on board?

The statement of policy change makes clear that these new rules came about as a result of “feedback from customers and American team members.” You can bet that your input throughout the years has in some way played a critical role in American’s new position, and we encourage you to stay in contact with the company, with one another, and with the AFM President’s Office to voice your opinions about important travel changes relating to your profession.

Remember, musicians working together have the power. We will revisit this matter again. Thank you for your activism.

canada's air policy

Canadian Office of the American Federation of Musicians Announces Major Breakthrough Affecting Travelling Musicians

Pour voir cet article en français, cliquez ici.

The Canadian Office of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) has announced a successful outcome in its efforts to affect much-needed changes to Canada’s Air Policy with regard to the transportation of musical instruments on Canadian air carriers. 

Effective July 15, Air Passenger Protection Regulations within the Canadian Transportation Act will include language that ensures that all air carriers must accept musical instruments unless security or safety is an issue. These amendments will include clear and predictable terms and conditions with regard to musical instruments, as well as the obligation to carry and accept an instrument. Airlines also will be required to offer an alternative to musicians travelling with instruments should a change in aircraft cause an instrument not to fit.

“Over the years, we’ve seen far too many professional musicians have very expensive, and often irreplaceable, tools of their trade broken or destroyed during air travel,” says Alan Willaert, AFM vice president from Canada. “We have worked closely with the government of Canada and all Canadian air carriers on this issue since 2014 and are delighted to see these demands become regulation. We are grateful to The Honourable Minister Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, who has been supportive from the very beginning; the officials at Transport Canada, who have worked tirelessly with us; and the Canadian Transportation Agency.”

The Canadian Office of the AFM will issue a Canadian Flying Guide over the coming weeks to further assist musicians flying with instruments. Each airline also will have clear guidelines published as part of their tariff. Under the Obligation to Carry amendments, all commercial airline carriers must accept musical instruments as checked or carry-on baggage, unless it is contrary to general terms and conditions in the carrier’s tariff with respect to the weight or dimension of baggage or because of safety or security.

Canadian Transportation Agency Calls for Public Consultation

Since December 2014, the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) has been lobbying to ensure safe carriage of musical instruments on Canadian airline carriers. On May 24, the Canadian Transportation Act (CTA) received Royal Assent. The Canadian Transport Agency has since announced the dates for public consultations, as part of the process to develop regulations in air passenger protection, including musical instruments.

The CFM was effective in ensuring that this legislation passed in the House of Commons and the Senate, and will make a formal submission in Ottawa on July 4. However, comments from our professional musicians are also vital to ensure that the regulations truly reflect the needs of all musicians. We encourage musicians to send in thoughts and experiences through the CTA website http://www.airpassengerprotection.ca/instruments (French: https://www.protectionpassagersaeriens.ca/instruments-de-musique). If you do join this effort by sending your individual submission, we ask that you also mention that you are an AFM/CFM member who supports the CFM’s initiative to make “musical instruments as carry-on regulations for Canada harmonize with regulations in the US.” Alternatively, if you feel more comfortable in doing so, please feel free to instead send your thoughts to AFM/CFM International Representative Allistair Elliott (aelliott@afm.org) who will be presenting the submissions for CFM and who will be appearing in the interest of all Canadian musicians.

For more information about the Canadian Transportation Act (CTA) websites: http://www.airpassengerprotection.ca/. (French: https://www.protectionpassagersaeriens.ca/)

La nouvelle Loi sur les transports au Canada (LTC) a reçu la sanction royale le jeudi 24 mai 2018. L’Office des transports du Canada a annoncé depuis les dates prévues pour la consultation publique dans le cadre du processus visant à l’élaboration des règlements pour la protection des passagers aériens, ce qui comprend les dispositions régissant le transport des instruments de musique. 

La FCM a déployé beaucoup d’efforts afin de veiller à ce que la législation soit adoptée à la Chambre des communes et au Sénat. Pour la suite des choses, nous présenterons un mémoire officiel le 4 juillet 2018 à Ottawa. À cet égard, les commentaires des musiciens professionnels joueront un rôle crucial afin de faire en sorte que les règlements adoptés répondent vraiment aux besoins de tous les musiciens. Nous vous encourageons par conséquent à faire part de vos idées, commentaires et expériences par le biais du site Web de l’Office des transports du Canada : https://www.protectionpassagersaeriens.ca/instruments-de-musique (anglais : http://www.airpassengerprotection.ca/instruments).

Si vous décidez de vous joindre à cet effort et d’envoyer une soumission écrite à l’OTC, nous vous demandons de mentionner que vous êtes membre de la FCM/FAM et que vous appuyez l’initiative de la FCM pour que « les règlements du Canada concernant le transport des instruments de musique comme bagage de cabine soient harmonisés avec ceux des États-Unis ». Si cela vous convient mieux, vous pouvez plutôt envoyer vos idées et commentaires à notre représentant international Allistair Elliott (aelliott@afm.org), qui déposera les soumissions pour le compte de la FCM et qui fera les représentations au nom de tous les musiciens.

Vous trouverez ci-dessous la liste de questions de l’Office des transports du Canada pour la consultation publique sur la protection des passagers aériens. 

Pour plus de renseignements, vous pouvez consulter le site Web de l’OTC à ce sujet : https://www.protectionpassagersaeriens.ca/

(anglais : http://www.airpassengerprotection.ca/)

Eating Healthy on the Fly: Don’t Let Fast Food Slow You Down

Eating HealthyFor musicians on the road, eating healthy food can be hard. Restaurants and mini-mart offerings can add unwanted calories quickly, but they are often the only option.

Choose beverages with no added sugar or with few calories. Most stores stock fat-free or low-fat yogurt, fruit packs, and trail mix. Keep in mind that some prepackaged foods look like single servings, but actually contain multiple servings. Avoid obvious bad choices: fried food, high-fat meat, and milk shakes. Instead, choose sandwiches with fewer toppings and no cheese. Opt for salads with low-fat or fat-free dressing, replace French fries with sliced fruit, and swap out fried meats for grilled options or fish.

The good news about health halos is a bit more complicated. Fast food chains use the symbol to indicate a healthier option. This claim, however, usually overestimates the healthfulness of an item. Researchers note that consumers frequently confuse low fat with low calorie, resulting in overconsumption. Some veggie dishes pack nearly 1,000 calories, while a burger may have as few as 250.

According to the Food and Brand lab at Cornell University, “Consumers chose beverages, side dishes, and desserts containing up to 131% more calories when the main dish was positioned as ‘healthy,’ even though the main dish contained more calories than the ‘unhealthy option.’” The rule of thumb is always read the nutrition facts before ordering. (Now that restaurants are adding calorie counts to menus, it’s becoming easier to riddle out how much you will be taking in.)

Other recent studies done by the Food and Brand Lab found that “low-fat” labels on snack foods encouraged people to eat up to 50% more than those who saw labels without the low-fat claim. “Simply seeing the words low-fat encouraged people in these studies to consume 84 extra calories! This happens because when consumers see the low-fat label on a product, they automatically assume it has fewer calories.”

Got a smart phone? Get an app to count calories. The Fast Food Calorie Counter app ($1, for iPhone or Android) lists more than 9,000 menu items. Also, eat small with pint-size portions. The kids’ menu can save you calories. If it’s unavoidable to eat unhealthy at one meal, make sure the next choice is a healthy one.

Dehydration can cause sweet and salty food cravings. Stay hydrated and you will be less likely to snack. Fruits can add to overall hydration: lettuce and some vegetables have high water content, as do watermelon, peaches, strawberries, oranges, pineapple, and blueberries.

Banana, beans, greens

Maximize protein and plant-based foods. Plant-based foods plus plenty of protein keep energy levels up. Generally, avoid refined grains, sugary snacks, and fried foods. Called a super fruit, bananas are high in B vitamins, calcium, and other minerals, such as magnesium and iron. Dark leafy greens, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and fruits, and foods high in probiotics (fermented foods) all boost energy. High-fiber and nutrient-heavy plant foods that will burn for hours. Low-fiber and nutrient-light foods—simple carbohydrates—burn quickly. When you’re eating plant-strong, you won’t have the energy highs and lows.

Kale, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, and broccoli are high in nutrients and contain glucosinolates, which inhibit the growth of certain cancers. Swiss chard and spinach have similar nutritional value. What’s more, they are available throughout the year, and both are rich in iron, which carries oxygen to the blood.

Egg, salmon, almonds

Nuts are satisfying proteins that fill you up, although try to find the “no salt” option. They have heart-healthy unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and fiber. 

Eggs pack a punch, too. More than half the protein is found in the egg white, along with vitamin B2, and whites are lower in fat and cholesterol than the yolk. Egg whites are also rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12, and minerals, like zinc, iron, and copper.

If you like it, fish is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Like nuts, it is plentiful in omega-3 fatty acids and the vitamin D, a nutrient that most people are deficient in. It functions like a steroid hormone in the body. (Of the many unhealthy options at a McDonalds, the Filet-O-Fish contains a rather modest 380 calories.)

Traveling by Air? Know the Rules and Your Rights

After years of negotiating and lobbying, the AFM saw the implementation of standard rules regarding musical instruments as carry-on and checked baggage. As of March 2015, musicians are allowed to bring certain musical instruments in-cabin on US carriers. Here are some airline travel tips for musicians.

Your Reservation

Tell the airline that you will be transporting a musical instrument. Air carriers are required to adequately inform passengers about limitations and restrictions to travel with instruments.

Book priority seating, requesting or purchasing early boarding.

On-board stowage rules  apply to any instruments that meet FAA carry-on size requirements.

Packing Your Gear

Remove any sharp tools and all liquids that do not comply with TSA’s three-ounce regulation.

Have a proper travel case, in the event that your instrument is not allowed in the cabin.

Board early. Overhead stowage is on a first come, first served basis.

Once an instrument is stowed in-cabin it cannot be removed or replaced by other bags.

Deal Calmly with Problems

If you are stopped by a flight attendant, calmly and quickly explain the precautions you have taken to prepare your instrument to safely travel in-cabin.

Do not block the way of other boarding passengers.

If necessary, ask to deplane so that you can resolve the matter with airline supervisors. Remember, you have approximately 15 minutes before the plane backs away from the gate.

Be prepared for the possibility that you may not be able to travel with your instrument in the cabin. It is important to have a backup plan.

Bring Along Links to Helpful Resources

Keep a link to the Department of Transportation Traveling with a Musical Instrument web link (www.dot.gov/airconsumer/air-travel-musical-instruments).

The AFM has developed comprehensive manuals: A Guide to Traveling with Musical Instruments (34-page guidebook) and A Guide to Flying with Musical Instruments (eight-page pocket guide). To find these resources, log into afm.org and go to “Document Library” and open the “Legislative Office” folder.

For a more in-depth story on the AFM’s efforts to ease air travel for musicians please visit: internationalmusician.org/musical-instrument-airline-carriage-rule/


Airline Travel with Musical Instruments in Canada Update

by Allistair Elliott, AFM International Representative for Canada

Early in 2015, after several years of lobbying efforts by AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard and AFM International President Ray Hair with the National Instrument Carry-On Coalition, the US government voted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Modernization and Reform Act into legislation. It regulated the carriage of musical instruments onboard US air carriers. About that time, given that this act governed US aviation only, AFM Vice President from Canada Alan Willaert asked me to represent the CFM office on behalf of musicians travelling with instruments on airlines in Canada.

With the help of our Ottawa lobbyist, Isabel Metcalf, we began a series meetings that included airline councils, the Canadian Transportation Agency, and the Minister of Transport’s office. We found out that the Government of Canada, under the Harper government, had initiated a complete review of Canadian Transport. Working quickly, we were able to submit documentation of our concerns with a follow-up meeting to the Transport Review Committee.

Chaired by the Honorable David Emerson, PC, OBC, the Canadian Transportation Act Review Report was tabled February 25, 2016. The review encompassed all modes of transport, from rail to shipping, trucking to airlines. We were thrilled to report at that time, the assiduity of our effort was not only mentioned in the report, but also cited as an example of a general theme of harmonization with US and EU transportation standards. Soon after the report was tabled, Air Canada initiated some changes to their own airline policy regarding musical instruments. The changes, which were generally positive, included priority boarding for musicians with instruments and the purchase of a second seat for musical instruments (such as a cellos) was reduced by 50%.

With the change in government, there were many changes in staffing, including a new Minister of Transport, Marc Garneau. After meeting with his staff, we were assured that he would be looking at the recommendations of the Emerson Report on Canadian Transport.

Earlier this year, Garneau announced he would initiate a new passenger bill of rights to modernize the transport industry. It has been important to continue our lobbying efforts, meeting with CTA staff, Garneau’s office, opposition transport critic Kelly Block, MP, and Judy Sgro, MP, chair of the Standing Subcommittee on Transport.

On May 16, 2017, Garneau announced the Bill C-49 proposal to amend the Canada Transportation Act. One of the items detailed in the paper is a requirement that carriers implement standards for transporting musical instruments. This is another step in the right direction for our efforts in this area. The bill has gone through second reading in the House of Commons, and will likely go to committee in September. We have already requested to appear before committee and over the summer we are preparing for this.

Recently there have been some concerns with new Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) procedures at some Canadian airports. CATSA has initiated a newer, more efficient, and more automated CATSA Plus. Some musicians have raised concerns about travelling through security with instruments. CFM is working with CATSA to determine the best advice for musicians who have concerns. (Alfonso Pollard’s column in the March 2017 IM has additional information regarding US Transportation Security Administration automated bin lines.) I am currently in communication with CATSA and I hope to soon provide information via local offices with regard to passenger rights going through security at airports.

Our goal throughout our lobbying effort has always been, and remains to be, to achieve harmonization with the FAA Carry On Act, so that musicians travelling throughout North America will have the same policies when travelling on any airline with a musical instrument. In that regard, we continue to work on behalf of all musicians so that the toughest part of the gig is not getting there!

Traveling Engagements

Traveling Engagements—Who Plays and Who Gets Paid?

by Joseph Parente, AFM International Executive Board Member and President of Local 77 (Philadelphia, PA)

Over the next several months, outdoor venues will be presenting various types of entertainment in many locals throughout the Federation. These engagements provide added employment to many musicians. However, there seems to be an issue as to which musicians are to be employed for this work and what is the correct scale for these traveling engagements.

A symphony orchestra traveling to another jurisdiction to perform a symphonic concert is normally covered by their collective bargaining agreement (CBA), and is not at issue here. However, in cases where symphony orchestras are hired to travel to other jurisdictions to back a name act or to perform the soundtrack for a motion picture or video game, there have been problems.

AFM Bylaws cover both types of engagements. Article 14 Section 3(a) states:

A symphony orchestra may travel freely for the purpose of giving concerts of a symphonic type … That seems to be clear. Article 14 goes on to say: In the cases where a symphony orchestra travels as a back-up unit to an artist or in a commercial venture that is not self-produced … or the orchestra is not the main attraction … the wage scale of the home Local or the Local having jurisdiction over the engagement, whichever is higher, shall be payable to the musicians …

Again, this means playing for an act, motion picture, or video soundtrack.

Article 13 covers traveling engagements defined as … an engagement in which any member performs outside the jurisdiction of that member’s home Local. This applies to symphony orchestras as well as freelance orchestras traveling to other jurisdictions.

Article 13 Section 10 states:

Except for services that are covered by a CBA with the home Local or the AFM that provides for wages and other conditions of employment … the minimum wage to be charged and received by any member … for services rendered on a Traveling Engagement shall be no less than either the Local wage scale where the services are rendered or the Local wage scale where the musical unit has its base of operation, whichever is higher.

So there is no misunderstanding, other than an orchestra traveling to give a concert, the orchestra’s CBA is irrelevant. Terms of employment are governed by the local’s (either home local or destination local) wage scale book. Obviously, a promoter or presenter would love to pay only traveling expenses (per diem, lodging, etc.), while the cost of the orchestra is being paid by the orchestra’s management who is burning services under their weekly scale.

Incidentally, this situation doesn’t merely occur during the summer. There are just many more engagements in the summer because of outdoor venues. Similar engagements take place during the year with regional “mini-tours” such as Il Volo, Salute to Vienna, Mannheim Steamroller, and Trans-Siberian Orchestra. These are usually freelance engagements, but the same rules apply. Contractors, locals, orchestra committees, and musicians need to communicate with each other before these jobs take place so there is a level playing field for all musicians involved. Once the job takes place, it’s extremely difficult, if not impossible, to make things right. Local musicians should not and cannot be cheated out of work that is theirs in order to accommodate others who circumvent the AFM Bylaws.

The AFM Federal Agenda: Air Travel with Musical Instruments, the Fair Play Fair Pay Act, NEA Support, and Fighting the National Right to Work Act

Developments in Domestic and International Air Travel with Musical Instruments

On March 6, 2015, new regulations relating to musical instruments as carry-on baggage went into effect thanks to the work of our national carry-on coalition. Talks with the Secretary of Transportation, led by AFM International President Ray Hair, helped develop and implement new carry-on rules that brought consistency to major and regional US air carriers, along with new tips for traveling musicians. Since the promulgation of these new rules, incidences of the rejection of instruments by gate attendants, flight attendants, and pilots have all but disappeared.

New Carry-On Fees

Now two new issues are being discussed within our musical instrument coalition. A few airlines have instituted new economy services, which affect changes in carry-on rules. In some cases, the change includes fees for carry-on baggage.

Because there is no universal change in policy across all airlines, when booking travel, musicians are encouraged to ask air carrier ticket agents about any new carry-on fees. These fees add to the overall cost of travel, and if you are on a travel budget or being reimbursed for travel, you will want your sponsor or employer to know about this upfront.

TSA Automated Bin Lines

The other issue is related to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). TSA has initiated what they call automatic bin lanes at a few major US airports. This new security procedure, designed to more effectively and quickly move passengers through security screening, will have a direct impact on musicians carrying their instruments through these  TSA automated security lanes.

  • Automated bin lane highlights from TSA’s website:
  • Stainless steel countertops enable several passengers to place their items in bins simultaneously;
  • Property bins are 25% larger than those in standard
    screening lanes—large enough to hold roller bags;
  • Automated conveyor belts draw bins into the X-ray
    machines, and return the bins back to the front of the queue for passengers;
  • Carry-on bags that trigger a warning of potential threat are automatically pushed to a separate area to allow bins behind them to continue through the screening process;
  • Unique Radio Frequency Identification tags are attached to each bin to allow for additional accountability of items as they transit throughout the security process;
  • Cameras capture images of the contents of each bin, linked to an X-ray image of a bag’s contents.

The League of American Orchestras, members of our airline travel coalition, spoke with TSA officials by telephone in order
to help outline information musicians need to consider.

Highlights from that telephone call are:

  • Musical instruments may be screened through both TSA PreCheck and regular lanes that use the new automated
    bin system.
  • Each checkpoint (both TSA PreCheck and regular) will continue to have a nonautomated conveyor belt screening lane. 
  • If your musical instrument exceeds the size of the automated bins, and fits through the standard conveyor belt X-ray machine, you will be directed to the nonautomated lane. 
  • If your musical instrument exceeds the size of the conveyor belt X-ray machine, you may be hand-screened. 
  • At present, the automated bin system is only in use at
    Newark, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, and Atlanta airports. (Newark will be consolidating its lane locations in March to make it easier to find nonautomated lanes.) 
  • TSA is updating signage, direction, and coordination between TSA and airport employees on the automated lane procedures before passengers enter the queue.
  • TSA is mindful of the needs of musicians and other passengers with oversized items as the automated bin procedures are implemented on a larger scale, and is reviewing its online guidance for musicians for any needed updates.

For musicians who travel frequently, these tips, along with a copy of the AFM Pocket Flying Guide downloaded from AFM.org (Member Log In/ Document Library/ Legislative Office/ Flying with Musical Instruments), serve as guides for more convenient air travel.

International Travel with Instruments Containing CITES Material

On December 7, 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, in cooperation with national music partners including the AFM, LOAO, AFVBM, Carnegie Hall, CMA, the Recording Academy, and NAMM, presented a comprehensive webinar that summarizes new regulations relating to travel abroad for those who own musical instruments containing component parts of CITES protected wildlife species. This tell-all webinar can be found at: www.afm.org/2016/12/travel-instruments-containing-endangered-species/. We encourage every traveling musician to review this presentation.

National Right to Work Legislation

For more than half a century, states have struggled over the adoption of “right to work” laws that give employers leverage to exploit workers by preventing them from forming and joining unions. Currently, there are right to work laws in 28 states. AFL-CIO research shows that workers in right to work states are worse off due to lower wages and income, lower rates of health insurance, and lower investment in education, and higher poverty, infant mortality rates, and workplace fatality rates.

For musicians, right to work employers promote policies that undermine collective bargaining, which often leads to reduced participation in collective action. For as much as our union has fought in the states against this policy, now Congress is engaged in a federal debate that would see national right to work laws enacted in this country.

On February 1, the battle came to Capitol Hill. Representative Steven King (R-IA) introduced HR 785, the National Right to Work Act—a bill designed to prevent union security agreements, weakening organized labor’s ability to unionize/organize workers. Both HR 785 and companion bill S 391 in the Senate amend the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act to repeal provisions that permit employers, pursuant to collective bargaining agreements that are union security agreements, to require employees to join a union. This includes provisions permitting railroad carriers to require, pursuant to such an agreement, a payroll deduction of union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Signature Issues

On January 31 and February 1, AFM President Ray Hair traveled to Washington, DC, to lobby members of Congress on the Fair Play Fair Pay Act; O and P Visas; support for National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and Corporation for Public Broadcasting; and against the offshoring of film scoring. These remain our signature issues and we are working hard to effect positive change in these areas.

We look forward to your continued input and encourage you to use the AFM congressional links to email your thoughts to your Washington, DC, representatives.


Webinar Provides Resources for Travel with Instruments Containing Protected Species

The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was created to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. There are 183 parties to CITES, which meet every three years. The most recent meeting, CITES COP17, was held last fall in South Africa. (You can read more about this meeting in AFM Legislative and Political Director Alfonso Pollard’s November 2016 IM column.)

On December 7, a webinar co-hosted by the AFM, as well as the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music America, League of American Orchestras, NAMM, and The Recording Academy, highlighted new rules for protected species and musical instruments. If you missed it, you can view the webinar from the website: www.afm.org/2016/12/travel-instruments-containing-endangered-species. Following are some highlights from the webinar.

Protected Species

Musicians should be aware that certain interstate or international activities with wood or wildlife products such as wooden instruments or instruments with ivory inlays are prohibited or regulated under international and domestic law. Before you acquire a new instrument or make plans to travel with an instrument made of protected wood or wildlife species, you should make plans to ensure compliance.

CITES protected species (about 5,000 animals and 35,000 plants) are listed in three appendices:

Appendix 1: Species threatened with extinction. Commercial trade is generally prohibited.

Appendix 2: Species vulnerable to overexploitation but not at risk of extinction. Commercial and noncommercial trade is allowed.

Appendix 3: Species protected by at least one country to address legal origin, not sustainability. Most activities are generally allowed.

The complete appendices are found at: cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php.


The backbone of CITES is a permit system that facilitates international cooperation in conservation and trade. Permits are issued only if a country’s management and scientific authorities determine trade is legal and does not threaten species’ survival. Permit requirements are:

Appendix 1 species: Require an import permit from the importing country and an export permit from the exporting country.

Appendix 2 species: Require an export permit or certificate from the exporting country.

Appendix 3 species: Require an export permit from the listing country and a certificate of origin from all others.

Pre-convention specimens: Require CITES certificates for export, but not import.

Musical instrument and traveling exhibition certificates:

Musical Instrument Certificate—a passport-like certificate for musical instruments that is issued to individuals.

Traveling Exhibition Certificate—a passport-like certificate for musical instruments that is issued to orchestras and ensembles.

These certificates are valid for up to three years and are intended for noncommercial purposes, including travel for performance. Single-use CITES Export/Re-Export Permits (form 3-200-32) are available for commercial purposes (sale). Application forms are available at: www.fws.gov/international/permits/.

Sometimes a permit is not required for musical instruments personally owned and containing less than 10 kg of these species of wood. If an individual is traveling with an instrument that contains only Appendix 2 and 3 species, he may qualify for a personal or household effects exemption. (Regulations on personal effects can be found at www.ecfr.gov.)

Travel Tips

For each instrument, gather as much information as possible: scientific name and common name of woods used, date of manufacture, evidence of lawful acquisition, and evidence of lawful import.

Print out regulations and keep them with the instruments for reference.

Keep and travel with documentation about the source and history of your instrument.

Consult with CITES Authorities in any countries to which you will be traveling prior to travel with an instrument containing a CITES species (www.cites.org/cms/index.php/component/cp).

If you are unsure about the status of the species you wish to import or export you can search by scientific name or common name on the CITES Species Database (www.speciesplus.net).

For more details on the Endangered Species Act visit www.fws.gov/endangered/. Or contact Alfonso Pollard (apollard@afm.org) for more information on travel with instruments containing protected species.