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Balance Airline Security With Fair Treatment, Urges AFM
By Mi2N
(more articles from this author)
2006-08-15
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The American Federation of Musicians (AFM) is voicing concern that, in the understandable rush toward tighter airline security in the wake of recent terrorist activity, the needs of working musicians not be forgotten.

Specifically, the AFM is calling on airlines and the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) to protect working musicians' means for earning a living by continuing to allow delicate and valuable musical instruments—the tools of a musician's trade—to be carried on board airplanes.

"With terrorism making headlines every day, it is imperative that the voice of working people be heard," says AFM President Thomas F. Lee. "Safety, of course, should be the number one priority of the airlines. However, the AFM has long maintained that assuring passenger safety and treating traveling musicians appropriately are not mutually exclusive concepts."

"It would be foolish for anyone to disagree that valuable instruments are not intended to be stored in a plane's cargo area," continues Lee. "Instruments are fragile and extremely expensive to repair or replace. The cargo area is an environment where motion and temperature changes—not to mention handling by baggage carriers—provide a very real threat to instruments."

During the last four years, the AFM has fought vigorously to raise the awareness of government and airline officials of the interests of musicians who travel to earn a living. The Federation worked closely with the TSA to secure a letter for AFM members to present to airline personnel at security gates.

This letter has helped convince boarding personnel that instruments in the cabin are not a security threat. The TSA recently implemented a policy to allow musicians to assist with the processing of instruments, providing them with more say in how instruments are handled by security inspectors.

The AFM also has been working with the airline industry to institute uniform carry on and storage policies in respect to instruments. While most airlines have shown sympathy toward musicians, Delta Airlines remains uncooperative and has created numerous problems for AFM members. In response, the AFM issued a boycott of Delta. Recently, the AFM has been informed that Delta is reviewing its policies.

"The threat of terrorism will continue for a long time, and musicians may have to deal with new airline safety and security measures," concludes Lee. "The AFM will continue to advocate for working musicians to ensure reasonable procedures that will allow them to maintain professional livelihoods without compromising security measures necessary for safe travel."

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