06 Feb 2016
February 6, 2016

2016 AIRLINE SURFBOARD BAGGAGE FEES

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Travelling with your surfboards is getting harder but it’s easy as long as you do your homework. Here’s the current state of surfboard / sports equipment fees for 2016. 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. There’s hints and tips on packing your boards at the bottom of the post. Here are the main airlines that us surfers will encounter flying from the UK and Ireland. Speak to friends, get their experience, the main takeaway is be super careful when dealing with US carriers and of course Iberia. Travel with surfer friendly flyers.

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.
Max length: 2.77m/109in
Max weight: 32kg
Pre-book fees per leg: 20kg:£9.50 / 25kg:£11 / 30kg:£14.20

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: $50USD per leg handling charge. Not always enforced in our experience.

AIR FRANCE
While some airlines like KLM get more surfer friendly others go the other way. As of March 2016 fees for surfboards are being introduced. Bodyboard bags under 42in still go free. Not tres bon Air France. In fact rather merde.
Max length: 3m
Max weight: 23kg
Fees:€65 to €125 depending on route

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

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

BRITISH AIRWAYS
BA have gone from being board friendly to board stupid and back again. Still pretty tight on the length thing but at least it’s over six foot. Just. So. Best for small wave trips eh? At least it’s not charged, board bag is checked baggage as long as it’s in weight.
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: €125

EASYJET
Our preferred European budget airline makes it easy to prebook 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.
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

HAWAIIAN
Boards included in the baggage allowance. Limit of two per bag. Which seems a bit mental. Honolulu airport also used to impose crazy fees to take your own boards home.
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. Definitely the least surfer friendly airline. So if you’re reading this Iberia types how about winning some customers over?
Rules are harsh as well. One board per passenger. Carriage subject to space. And here’s the doozy from their T&Cs: ‘Considering its characteristics, which normally make it impossible for them to ride the baggage belts, it is up to the company’s personnel to decide whether to use a system that facilitates the carriage of this equipment from the check-in area to the aircraft. Any expenses that might arise for this special handling will be met by the passenger.’
Max length: 2.5m
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: €150 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:€62 Europe to USA €87 each way.

JET BLUE
An American carrier you might end up on via code share or if you’re hopping around the US.Counts as your checked bag and a $50 fee each way.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $50 each way

KLM
A welcome arrival in the elite, enlightened surfer-friendly group of carriers 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.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 23kg

LAN 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

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.
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: €100 return for ‘Large sports equipment’

SATA
Included in baggage allowance, confirm with the airline when booking.
Max length:
Max weight: 32kg

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 you checked allowance also.
Max length: 2m
Max weight: 30kg

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!

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: $60 if under 109in $119 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. (Recent 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
Which if you’re thinking about heading Stateside would make booking with Virgin a good idea. Board bag goes free in addition to your normal allowance and they’re more than happy to take it. So you can take a board and a hold bag with no fuss. Which is how it should be.
Max length: 109in
Max weight: 23kg

Travelling with your surfboards is getting harder but it’s easy as long as you do your homework. Here’s the current state of surfboard / sports equipment fees for 2016. 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. There’s hints and tips on packing your boards at the bottom of the post. Here are the main airlines that us surfers will encounter flying from the UK and Ireland. Speak to friends, get their experience, the main takeaway is be super careful when dealing with US carriers and of course Iberia. Travel with surfer friendly flyers.
Add your recent airline experience comments on the FB post and we’ll add the best ones here as they come in.

Compiled by Sharpy

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.
Max length: 2.77m/109in
Max weight: 32kg
Pre-book fees per leg: 20kg:£9.50 / 25kg:£11 / 30kg:£14.20

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: $50USD per leg handling charge. Not always enforced in our experience.

AIR FRANCE
While some airlines like KLM get more surfer friendly others go the other way. As of March 2016 fees for surfboards are being introduced. Bodyboard bags under 42in still go free. Not tres bon Air France. In fact rather merde.
Max length: 3m
Max weight: 23kg
Fees:€65 to €125 depending on route

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

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

BRITISH AIRWAYS
BA have gone from being board friendly to board stupid and back again. Still pretty tight on the length thing but at least it’s over six foot. Just. So. Best for small wave trips eh? At least it’s not charged, board bag is checked baggage as long as it’s in weight.
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: €125

EASYJET
Our preferred European budget airline makes it easy to prebook 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.
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

HAWAIIAN
Boards included in the baggage allowance. Limit of two per bag. Which seems a bit mental. Honolulu airport also used to impose crazy fees to take your own boards home.
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. Definitely the least surfer friendly airline. So if you’re reading this Iberia types how about winning some customers over?
Rules are harsh as well. One board per passenger. Carriage subject to space. And here’s the doozy from their T&Cs: ‘Considering its characteristics, which normally make it impossible for them to ride the baggage belts, it is up to the company’s personnel to decide whether to use a system that facilitates the carriage of this equipment from the check-in area to the aircraft. Any expenses that might arise for this special handling will be met by the passenger.’
Max length: 2.5m
Max weight: 23kg
Fee: €150 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:€62 Europe to USA €87 each way.

JET BLUE
An American carrier you might end up on via code share or if you’re hopping around the US.Counts as your checked bag and a $50 fee each way.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 32kg
Fee: $50 each way

KLM
A welcome arrival in the elite, enlightened surfer-friendly group of carriers 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.
Max length: 118in
Max weight: 23kg

LAN 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

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.
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: €100 return for ‘Large sports equipment’

SATA
Included in baggage allowance, confirm with the airline when booking.
Max length:
Max weight: 32kg

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 you checked allowance also.
Max length: 2m
Max weight: 30kg

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!

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: $60 if under 109in $119 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. (Recent 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
Which if you’re thinking about heading Stateside would make booking with Virgin a good idea. Board bag goes free in addition to your normal allowance and they’re more than happy to take it. So you can take a board and a hold bag with no fuss. Which is how it should be.
Max length: 109in
Max weight: 23kg