Travelling with a Bike or Surfboard? How to take big items on the plane.

The age old battle between the airlines and passengers still continues to this day. While the carriers claim that they are doing everything in their power to keep the ticket prices as low as possible, the travelers have their own set of opinions which is located on the completely other side of the spectrum.

However, from time to time, some small victories are won for the passengers, and recent news certainly look like a step in the right direction. As it turns out, some major carriers have instated new policies regarding the fees for oversized items, such as sports equipment and musical instruments. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this interesting topic.

What exactly is the oversized item?

Oversized item or baggage is not as uniformly standardized as you might’ve imagined. Different airlines have different rules regarding pretty much anything, and when it comes to this question, well the answer pretty much varies depending on who you ask.

While some carriers primarily look at the size and bulk of these items, others give priority to weight, but most try to find some middle ground between the two. In case that your baggage falls under these rules, prepare to pay a special fee for it. Additionally, it turns out that some smaller items that require special handling, which might be particularly fragile or expensive, will still fall under these rules, which means that the extra fees will also be applied.

How to properly pack the sporting items

The last thing you’d want is to have your precious bike or surf board damaged in the process. To avoid this, each passenger needs to wrap the equipment very securely, without adding on too much unnecessary weight that would affect the overall dimensions. Depending on the value of the item, some passengers choose to go with the hard-shell cases, while others just go with the bubble wrap and a polyurethane cover and hope for the best. Either way, in case that your item has a lot of moving parts, such as bikes, all the pieces need to be locked in place, or separated from the base entirely, to prevent breaks.

Furthermore, certain airlines require for passengers with oversized items to call in advance, thus allowing the airline personnel to plan for loading details ahead of time. The deadline is usually set about 72 hours prior to the flight, but it’s probably a good idea to perform this task as soon as possible, just to be on the safe side. The smaller aircrafts tend to be limited for space, so every piece of additional information that can be provided will be very useful.

Naturally, there are some rules and limitations when it comes to the maximum allowed size and weight of these oversized baggage items as well. Some airlines draw the line at 50 lbs, while others can be a bit more lenient, allowing for those that weight up to 70 lbs.

There is some good news on the horizon

The battle for passengers is getting tougher each day, and it turns out that some carriers are finally ready to give out certain benefits to draw as many clients as they can. One of the biggest players on the market, the American Airlines is prepared to do such a thing. They recently made an announcement claiming that they will significantly reduce the fees for oversized items, which is a welcomed news for those traveling with a bike or a surfboard.

On the other hand, the competitors are also doing their best to reach as many passengers as they can. For example, United Airlines don’t charge any extra fees to travelers with surfboards, going in and out of California, as their way to celebrate this new national sport. Besides this rather awesome offering, they also have loose policies when it comes to other sports equipment, so you might get away with more than what you originally anticipated.


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