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surfers airline baggage fees

2017 AIRLINE SURFBOARD BAGGAGE FEES & RULES

Travelling with your surfboard is getting harder year on year but as long as you do your homework it should be trouble free. Support the airlines that support surfers then everyone should be happy.

Here’s the current state of surfboard / sports equipment fees as of the start of 2017.

EU law doesn’t allow bags over 32kg, due to it snapping baggage handlers spines off, so make sure you’re always under weight for your chosen carrier. Most European routes limit you to 20kg and further afield 23kg. But sporting goods, if you’re paying extra, sometimes allow you more. Make sure you always double check the regulations and if in doubt call the airline before booking.

Here are the main airlines that us surfers will encounter flying from the UK and Ireland seeing as that’s our turf.

Speak to friends, get their recommendations, the main takeaway is be super careful when dealing with US carriers and of course Iberia they’re to avoided like the plague.

Travel with surfer friendly flyers, the days of free board carriage are all but done but those that are happy to take boards for a transparent fee like Easyjet etc are to be admired, while they still allow us at least.
Add your recent taking boards on board comments on the FB post and we’ll add the best ones here as they come in.

Compiled by Sharpy All info correct as of 2/1/17

AER LINGUS
Ireland’s national carrier and a good option for hopping further afield as Dublin is a decent hub for the US.
Max weight: 23kg
Max length international: 2.77m/110in
Max length regional: 2.05m/80in
Fee: To North America part of standard baggage allowance.
Other destinations €40 per leg.

AIR ALASKA
If you fancy exploring in the US these guys take two boards in a bag.
Max length: 115in unless on a diddy plane in which case total dimensions: 115in
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: $75

AIR ASIA
Air Asia are a budget carrier based out of Kuala Lumpur and they’re great for connecting to Indo and onwards from Malaysia.
Pre-book board bags as way cheaper and you’re limited to 20kg if you just check in without pre-booking. They’re sticklers for fees but their excess weight fees are real world not crazy. Must be in a boardbag.
Max length: 2.77m/109in
Max weight: 32kg
Pre-book fees per leg: 30kg:£16

AIR CALIN
New Caledonia’s carrier is groovy when it comes to boards, letting you take a 23kg boardbag in addition to your 23kg hold bag. Good work fellas.
Max dimensions: 3m
Max weight: 23kg

AIR CANADA
Amenable to surfers and good way to connect to Hawaii or Central America without having to suffer through US custom queues. Not to mention the mysto cold water Canadian coasts. Board bag counts as one of your checked bags. You can pre-register when booking.
Max length: 80in
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: $6.50 Canadian Dollars per leg handling charge. Not always enforced in our experience.

AIR FRANCE
Free as your checked luggage item (except for Economy Mini and Basic fare tickets).
Max length: 3m
Max weight: 23kg
Fees: €65 to €125 depending on route, mainly the Americas. So slightly confusing all round.
Reader comments: Peg Leg Rik, Paul Phelan and many others strongly urge you avoid Air France at all costs.

AIR NEW ZEALAND
Historically along with Virgin one of the legends of international surfer travel. Board bags no bother as long as in regulation and you can pre-book a board bag as an extra hold bag.
Max length: 2m
Max weight:23kg

AIR TAHITI NUI
For those of you fancying a pop at Teahupo’o or some other Tahitian dreams you might be worth checking Air France. Baggage rules a bit restrictive. Unless you’re going to hit Tea-ah-poo-poo on your 5’8”. Bags between 1.8 and 2m need to be sent as cargo. Board bags over 2m not accepted due to ickle planes.
Max length: 1.8m/70in
Max weight: 25kg
Reader comments: Board bags up to 2.5m ok according to Paul Lenfant

AMERICAN AIRLINES
The American airlines that are left have taken real anti-surfer stance which is pretty ironic considering the Californian roots of most of the world’s idea of surf culture. Anyhoose. AA at least don’t outright ban them like some other carriers but one to be avoided if possible.
Max length: 126in combined dimensions
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $150USD

AVIANCA
You can take a triple board bag in addition to your hold bag with Colombia’s national carrier.
Max dimensions: 3.7m
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $125-100 depending on destination

AZORES AIRLINES
Additional 10kg allowance for boards.

BRITISH AIRWAYS
Board bag considered checked baggage as long as it’s in weight. But watch out for the tiny length restriction.
Max dimensions: 1.9m/75in
Max weight: 23kg

DELTA
Allow max two boards in a bag and charge you for it. Like most US carriers best avoided.
Max length: 115in
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $100-$150 depending on route

EASYJET
Our preferred European budget airline makes it easy to pre-book a board bag and extra hold bags if needed. They take canoes and windsurfers also so bag size rarely an issue. Never had an issue so far and they’ve got the Euro surf destinations down. One sports equipment per person. 6 max per booking.
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: £70 return

EMIRATES
One of the main carriers from Europe to wave rich wonders of Asia features modern planes and a stop off in pleasurable, if not a tad pricey, Dubai. Board bag goes as part of your checked allowance.
Max dimensions: 118in
Max weight: 23kg

ETIHAD
A relatively new player that’s also surfer friendly. Board bag is part of your checked allowance.
Max length: 3m
Max weight: 23kg

FLYBE
A handy UK airline for getting around our islands and across to Ireland. Not the biggest planes but good fares and for SW surfers having a hub at Exeter is a treat. Leave a bit of time to pay the bag fee at the airport.
Max length: Depends on plane, between 1.67m and 3m.
Max weight: 20kg
Fee: £30 per leg payable at the airport

GARUDA INDONESIA
Free boardbag in addition to your hold bag. Good work fellas. This is how it should be.
Max weight: 23kg
Max length: 3m

HAWAIIAN
Boards included in the baggage allowance. Limit of two per bag. Which seems a bit mental.
Max length: 115in
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: Inter island $35, Hawaii to US $100. Price varies from free to NZ/Oz to $150 per leg depending on destination.

IBERIA
There’s no bones about it, in the last few decades of surf travel Iberia undoubtedly top the list when it comes to horror stories about fees. Seems they’ve changed to allow boards as part of checked baggage allowance for long haul. One board limit. Fees apply for extra bags. €45 for short/medium haul.
Max length: 3.5m
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: €45 per leg

ICELAND AIR
Book in advance to ensure carriage and there’s an each way fee for ‘medium’ sports equipment depending on route.
Max length: 2.5m
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: UK to Iceland: £57

KLM
KLM let you take a board bag as part of your allowance. If you want a case as well then you can pay for an extra bag. On European routes you just prebook the standard hold baggage fee. If you want a hold bag and a board bag it’s €68 each way.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 23kg

LATAM CHILE
No stress with Chile’s national carrier either your bag goes as your allowance as long as it follows the rules. Handy in a county so long that internal flights are pretty essential unless you really love 30 hour road trips.
Max dimensions: 3m
Max weight: 23kg

LUFTHANSA
Not an airline we’ve used but like KLM they can be good value and hopping to their European hubs not a bother. Well. It wouldn’t be if they didn’t charge for boards.
Max length: 2m
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: €100

MALAYASIAN
Carried as part of free checked allowance and Malaysian have an awesome free checked allowance of two 30kg bags which makes them a very worthwhile option. Prices are good too. Hook up with Air Asia from KL and you’re sweet for Indo.
Max length: 2.5m
Max weight: 30kg

NORWEGIAN
Europe’s award winning budget carrier is a growing player and has a modern fleet and good prices, especially to the US. Boards are paid up at booking time.
Max weight: 25kg
Max length: 2.5m
Fee: short haul £33 – 38 GBP (online) 43 – 52 GBP (airport). Long haul £47 GBP (online) 52 GBP (airport).All items are charged per item, each way.

QANTAS
As you’d expect from Australia’s main airline they take boards for free. As with all the big players keep inside the rules or you’ll get stung excess.
Max length: 2.7m/109in
Max weight: 32kg

QATAR
Another of the Middle Eastern airlines that are your ticket to the joys of Sri Lanka, the Maldives and beyond. Doha is a pretty functional but sparse airport but their prices tend to be good and free board carriage as part of your checked allowance. But double check if you’re taking a hold bag too.
Max dimensions: 118in
Max weight: 30kg

RYANAIR
Ryanair always get their pound of flesh but they’ve committed to being more human and simplifying charges. Their fares are also ridiculously cheap. But when you add the board fees then there’s not much budget left about it.
Max length: Standard board bags always go with no problem. Hard to find a specific length on their site.
Max weight: 20kg
Fee: £50 each way for ‘Large sports equipment’

SAS
Let you take a boardbag as your free checked bag. Additional bag fee if you want an extra hold bag. Thanks Paul Milner for the tip.

SINGAPORE AIRLINES
Flying to Singapore is a joy, it’s one of the world’s leading airports and not a bad place for a layover. Singapore airlines run a new fleet of them fancy double decker Airbuses so you can really travel in style. Board bags are part of your checked allowance also.
Max length: 2m
Max weight: 32kg

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS
A tricky one with SAA, board bags under two metres go as a free additional bag. Over two must go as cargo. So make sure you get your small print sorted if venturing to J-Bay.
Max length: 2m
Max weight: 23kg

SOUTHWEST
Another US airline you’ll only encounter if you fly code share to the US.
Max length: 80in
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $75 each way

SRI LANKAN
Your go to outfit for Sri Lanka or the Maldives are understandably cool with boards. Hell they used to sponsor surf events too! Nice weight limit too.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 30kg

TAP PORTUGAL
The main carrier to Portugal that isn’t budget will actually take longboards which is a rare treat these days. Pity about the fees.
Max weight: 32kg
Fees: Up to 2m €50 over 2m €100 per leg!
Editors comment: Had my hold bag delayed by two days then an amateur hour scenario where rather than courier to hotel I had to go collect from a bus station. Fourth time I got told it would be there it was. 48 hours in limbo. And the bag padlock had been cut off and GoPro burgled. So. Try and go with Easyjet eh?

THAI AIRWAYS
Perplexing rules but it ain’t good. Doesn’t count as your free baggage and only one board allowed.
Max length: 109in
Max weight: 30kg
Fee: $100 if under 2m $200 if over!

THOMAS COOK
The British package holiday operator has their own planes on some routes, like the Caribbean, and don’t mind you taking a sled for a fee. But generous weight and no stress on longer boards. (2016 info from Tom Shep).
Max length: Longboard
Max weight: 32kg

UNITED
With a fee scheme like this it’s a surprise any surfer would book with United. Two hundred bucks each way?!? You guys are loco.
Max length: 115in
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $150 each way in US airspace and $200 each way international?!?

VIRGIN
Board bag goes as part of your checked allowance. But the new length allowance is daft. If you want to take a hold bag and board bag then it’s £65.
Max length: 75in
Max weight: 23kg
Readers comments: Be warned, they told Joel Gray they won’t take boards at all on any route. As with all if in doubt get it in writing like we did!

WOW
Fancy an Iceland excursion? easyJet is cheaper for boards but if you score a cheap flight with WOW it might be worth checking.
Max length: 109in
Max weight: 20kg
Fee: £71.99 each way.

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BOARD BAG GUIDE

If there is one thing that sucks more than anything it’s arriving on your surf trip, opening your board bag and finding dings or worse… I had one snapped in three by Air France once. The tail was literally cut. Never seen anything like it. No explanation, no compensation. No idea how they managed it.
Luckily these days most airlines are on the ball, and board bags are better than ever, but there are still a few tips that will help you protect your quiver. One thing at the airport if the board doesn’t go down the oversized belt but goes into one of those trolleys make sure you see it being wheeled away. They can occasionally be forgotten…

1. Put your biggest board on the bottom wax side up. Stack the others the same way and try and align the rockers.
2. Most board bags have internal separators or a day bag. The day bag comes in handy the other end so if you don’t have one get one. If you need extra padding between boards use a towel, rashes, boardies, or wetsuits.
3. You can use pipe insulating foam to add extra protection along the rails from the nose and tail. Just grab a decent length, cut it down the middle to fit the length of your rail (or tail) and whack it on both sides. If you don’t have this pack the tail with boots, reef boots, or your wetty. (Heaviest items at the tail if you have a wheeled bag). For the nose use any other boardies, T-shirts, clothes you have. If you a worried about them getting damp, put them in a plastic bag first. You can reduce you hold luggage like this so maybe save some coin.
4. Wax, wax combs and the like I put in a string bag and place down the tail (on the wheels) for more protection, or tuck in the bottom corners of the bag.
5. If you have fixed fins get some polystyrene blocks. Cut to the same size as your tail and put slits where the fins are. Use masking tape to secure.
6. If you are really scared get a little extra bubble wrap for packing for exposed deck/bottom and nose and tail areas. You shouldn’t really need it with these bags, but there are always horror stories.
7. Be careful with leashes. Don’t let them run free. You’d be amazed the pressure ding you can get if a leash is stuck between two of your sleds for the duration of a flight.

* Always
• Double check airline bag policy and book your boards before you get to the airport.
• Check your bag weight and airline limits (overall dimensions and weight) – luggage scales are cheap or balance on your bathroom ones at a push.
• Get there well early so your board goes on first and the check in staff are in a good mood.
• Pack a solar activating ding kit. Great innovation. Even ding repair guys use them.
• Take a plastic bin bag, wetsuit or dry bag. Always good if you have last minute surf and need to pack wet things!
• Duct tape. Always useful.