Flying with Your Surfboard (and Other Sports Equipment)

We’ve all seen it – people trekking through the airport with golf bags, surfboards, ski equipment, and even bicycles in hand. If you’ve ever wondered how the heck they do that (and how you can too)– CheapAir has all the answers you need.

travel with sports equipment

We’re going to keep this very simple. Sports equipment generally falls into the airlines’ “Oversize” baggage category, so you will be charged a fee for bringing those items along. But every airline is different – so it pays to research what each airline will charge if you need to travel with sports gear, as well as if the charges are one way, round trip or by segment.

The best prices for domestic flights are on Southwest ($75), Jetblue ($50) and AlaskaAir ($25). American and Delta each very recently updated their policies to essentially allow “free” boards, but they still count as your third bag (with those attendant fees) and can also incur fees if they go over the maximum weight or length limits. No one beats South Africa Air or Singapore Airlines (boards are free!) internationally, but we did include the most popular airlines for surfers (based on routes and surf destination accessibility).

Surfboard Fees By Airline

airline surfboard fees         *Range of fees depending on factors such as length of board, weight of board, etc

Bikes are probably the trickiest items to transport. You need to know how to dismantle and reassemble one 9some airlines will even ask you to deflate the tires), and you have to decide whether you want it to fly in a cardboard bicycle box (most affordable, but less secure) or a custom bike case (comparatively expensive, but very safe). It stands to reason, if you’re planning to fly with your bike you probably have these skills (otherwise, you’d be renting a bike when you get to where you’re going).

bike travel bag

Most standard road and mountain bikes weigh less than 50 pounds, so let’s assume our hypothetical bike does. Here’s how the domestic carriers currently stack up.

Bicycle Fees By Airline
Bicycle Transport Fees Airline *Bikes weighing over 50 pounds are assessed a $150 fee on American.

Fishing Gear
Good news, fishermen! Your hobby is the least expensive hobby to have when flying on domestic air carriers. Most of the airlines don’t charge at all for the following items: two rods, one reel, a landing net, a tackle box and a pair of fishing boots. If you’re flying Spirit, Southwest or Frontier you’ll need to keep your gear under 62”in length to avoid a surcharge.

Golf Bags
Golf bags won’t incur extra charges on most airlines (it will count as a checked bag and therefore you’ll have to assume that bag fee). If it’s your first time at the “flying with your golf clubs” rodeo, make sure to read the airline’s fine print. Different airlines allow a different number of balls, for example.

Serious golfers tend to travel with their golf bags, but the recent proliferation of affordable specialty shippers has also stepped in to offer convenient, affordable service (Ship Sticks is a favorite for golfers). Still, the airlines do a brisk business in golfers traveling with their bags.

Skis and Skiing Equipment
It’s a little early for ski season, but lets get a jump on how much the airlines will charge you to transport your ski gear.  Luckily, airlines don’t gouge you for ski equipment. Most airlines will let you fly free (skis in one bag and boots/helmet in another). Make sure you’re not adding other clothing to your boot bag – if some airlines see you’ve done this, you’ll get hit with a regular bag fee. Hawaiian and Spirit both charge $100 for ski equipment.

The best airlines for sports enthusiasts are Delta and Alaska Air – both almost never charges extra fees for sports equipment or oversize bags. You’ll need to reach out directly to the airlines once you’ve settled on a flight to make sure your specific equipment meets the size and weight limits to not accrue extra fees. We hope you found this post helpful. Please let us know if you have other tips to share in the comments section below. You can also read more about other special considerations – flying with medications and pets.

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