Years ago world famous cellist Lynn Harrell was banned by Delta Air Lines because he would book a seat on his flights for his cello – and credit the miles for that seat to a SkyMiles account in his cello’s name. I appeared on Stephen Colbert defending Delta.
- You can book a seat on a plane for your musical instrument
- Your instrument is not entitled to miles when you do
Department of Transportation rules are clear about airlines accommodating musical instruments on board their aircraft. But these rules aren’t often well-understood.
It’s been possible to buy a ticket for a cello, for instance, and not have reservations agents check to make sure they’re in the proper, allowable seats. And then the passengers may be able to fly with the cello unaccosted anyway, or they may not.
Cello On Board American Airlines Airbus A321
American Airlines has updated its policies to become much more flexible traveling with musical instruments.
They used to require that large instruments go in bulkhead rows, but even this varied by aircraft because American doesn’t offer true bulkheads on all aircraft anymore.
Now, according to an internal memo, there’s no more requirement that large instruments have to be seated in a bulkhead. Instead, the rule is simply that the passenger must be seated next to their instrument; cannot be seated in an exit row (because it could block the exit); and must not impede egress of other passengers in an emergency.
Generally if you are a solo traveler with a large instrument, you’ll book the window and middle seat rather than the aisle.