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Classical Notes

Musicians can stop singing the Delta blues

Posted at 5:13 PM on April 26, 2007 by Don Lee

If you're Delta Airlines, what's the bigger relief? That a bankruptcy court yesterday approved your $2.5 billion reorganization plan? Or that the American Federation of Musicians today ended its year-long boycott of your flights?

Well, here we care about the music story:

The AFM called for the boycott about a year ago, saying the airline was going too far in restricting musicians from carrying their instruments on board planes. Here's the background, from a statement the union released today:

Restrictions on carry-on items were tightened following 9/11. In response, the AFM lobbied Congress and the administration, seeking support for carry-on rules that reflected the value of musical instruments and the importance of allowing them on board. The AFM’s efforts were successful in winning a formal statement from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allowing passengers to carry one musical instrument through security screening checkpoints in addition to the standard allotment of one carry-on and one personal item.

Ultimately, most airlines allowed musicians to carry on their instruments. But each airline is free to impose its own restrictions, and Delta continued to be the most restrictive.

In 2006, AFM instituted an internal boycott that asked all of the union’s 100,000 members plus all local and international leadership not to fly the airline. Upon Delta’s announcement of its new policy allowing instruments on board, the union’s International Executive Board today voted to lift the boycott against Delta.

It'd be interesting to know how much difference the boycott made to Delta's bottom line.