It’s springtime here at the Pro-Lite International HQ in Ventura, CA which means bad winds, minimal swell with cold water, and time spent at our desks trying to figure out where we can hop on a plane and get our fill of warm water swell.
Given that the record high price of gas has contributed greatly to air travel ticket prices skyrocketing as of late, we tend to be extra thrifty in searching for a flight. And while we are all tempted to hop on Priceline and pull the trigger on the cheapest flight, it is important to dive deeper and make sure that your airline is surfboard friendly. We have made the mistake ourselves and had come to cancel out any savings by absorbing board bag/oversized luggage fees. And have even found a few friends who had to leave boards behind because of limitations from that respective carrier. Even team riders spending $1200+ to get a bag of boards home from a trip.
Feel free to check out our list of airline board bag policies at https://prolite.com/pages/bag-charges which is a good starting point when booking a flight. These policies have been updated recently, and many of the airlines will quietly change their policies or have staff unfamiliar with their own policy. So, make sure you verify the individual airlines policies on the airlines website. This is merely a guide to help you.
So here are a few tips to keep in mind when booking a flight while travelling with surfboards.
- Check for the best prices to your destination, across multiple carriers. Sites like priceline.com, kayak.com, etc. will usually be a good starting point. But also, some carriers are not represented on here, so also check your favorite airlines website.
- Check our bag-charges list and for pricing and policies – it is important to find airlines that have the best policies in place for your needs. Most airlines have height and weight limitations, that can send your luggage cost from $75 up to $300 quick. If you are travelling with longboards, or more than 2 boards, many airlines drive the price up exponentially for oversize and overweight. But may not let you carry more than two boards at all.
- Be diligent in reading the fine print - many airlines will list their policy as “up to 115 linear inches”. This measurement will be factoring in the length + width + depth = the total allowed at that price, not your 9’4” longboard bag. Head for the company website and search the policy there to make sure the guidelines are clearly stated.
- Print the airlines posted policy- The person checking your luggage has a lot of rules and regs and varying price structures for different items. They often are guessing themselves, and it is always good to have it in writing to present to them, should they attempt to over charge you, or try and make you leave your trusted step up behind. This has happened to me on several occasions, but other times they undercharged me, and my proof of policy stayed securely in my back pocket. A smile and some light conversation can work wonders as well.
- Make sure the airline policy is the same on the return flight as it is on the departing flight- We have heard many stories of boards costing one price leaving, and a much steeper price on the return flight home. It is also worth noting the policies in relation to layovers, size of the aircraft, and if you’re jumping between airlines to get to or from your destination.
- Weigh It at home! - Keep in mind that boards in bags quickly become heavy. Depending on the measures you are taking to protect your board in addition to your surfboard travel bag, less is more. Throwing towels, clothes wetsuits, etc. in your bag will significantly increase the weight. And you may find yourself trying to shed that weight at the scales or pay a hefty overage fee. We have all seen that scramble at check in, someone with gear spread across the terminal trying to cram items into another already full bag. Save yourself some trouble…. Pack light and weigh it at home.
In closing, sometimes paying another $200 on a surfer friendly airline, will save you $400 in unbudgeted board bag fees. Happy hunting, and don’t forget to tip your bag handler! $10 up front may save your board from a $100 repair.
You can browse our collection of surfboard travel bags here: https://prolite.com/collections/surfboard-travel-bags
We have now entered our 40th year of making surfboard travel bags and continue to look forward to what new innovations the future will bring to help get your surfboards safely around the world. Whether that journey be by air, sea or land.