For us Southern California surfers, when we want to mix it up and take our wave-riding adventures to new locales, it can end up costing us a small fortune — and not for our flight, either: for our boards’ flights.
While checking your beloved surfboard rarely came with an added fee years ago, now you’ll be lucky to pay only $100 extra. It’s too bad that surfers have not been able to stop the airlines from charging so much for our boards. It seems unfair while so much of over-sized baggage – golf clubs, bicycles, guitars, boogie boards, fishing poles and many other irregular-shaped items aren’t charged at all.
As an 18-year-old traveling from Venice to Honolulu many years ago, my friends and I would wrap our beloved boards in our sleeping bags and the airlines seemed happy to have our strange-looking luggage. Of course, way back then, padded board bags and hard cases hadn’t yet been invented, so if your board showed up in one piece you were a happy traveler.
Of course, like anything, the fees have gone up steadily over the years — along with the quality of surfboard bags and cases — and fast-forward to today and you’ll find that Air New Zealand is one of the only remaining carriers that doesn’t charge extra to bring a board along.
I hadn’t thought much about these fees until my 15-year-old son and I decided to venture off to Nicaragua for a surfing vacation — booking our trip with Continental proved to be quite the frustrating experience with their handling of our surfboard luggage.
When I called to inquire about their policy I was told that I could check one surfboard or one board bag with up to four boards inside. Too good to be true?
Apparently so. Upon hearing that we had four boards in one bag, the less-than-cordial Continental employee loudly announced that we should be charged $700 — mind you, the entire round trip airfare itself was under $500!
We felt like they thought we were trying to smuggle weapons! Thankfully, we had the option to take two boards out of the bag and check them in as two, separate bags at $200 each bag and I paid – under protest. Listening to her yell was not a fun way to start the trip but paying $400 instead of $700 was welcomed relief.
Do you think I can drum up support for a Traveling Surfers Rights Union that can lobby the airline industry for lower charges for surfboards? Have you had similar experiences trying to travel with your surfboards? Is there a particular airline that handled it much better than the others? I’d love to hear your comments in the section below