Not all of us are world class athletes and sportswomen, so most of the time we will be forgoing the chance to transport our own sporting gear on a plane and instead just rent as we go.
Like skiing – perhaps you’d be fine with just renting equipment when you arrive at the mountains instead of worrying about your gear making it safely.
However, there are times when traveling with sports equipment is preferred, such as when you’re planning to hit all the golf courses in Florida in a month (with dreams of the LPGA tour in your head), or to ski for weeks in Colorado. In those cases, you might need a good bag and to weigh the costs and hassle of checking them on a plane.
Sporting Equipment You Might Consider Checking:
- Golf clubs
- Softball bats, gloves and protective gear
- Tennis rackets (you might just go carry-on)
- Scuba gear
Things to consider:
- Cost to check your sports equipment versus the cost to rent while at your destination.
- The benefits of using your own equipment (are you training for a bigger event?).
Sporting equipment is considered special items, and some of them can be taken as carry-on, such as baseballs, softballs, basketballs, etc.
Airlines will vary in their requirements and restrictions for sporting gear. Many airlines will accept sporting equipment as part of the checked baggage allowance, but there will be extra baggage fees and requirements if they go over. There are also strict criteria that must be followed for the specific type of item that you are checking, such as a surfboard not being over a certain size and weight.
Bicycles will typically have to be in a Bike Pack, which may or may not be available at the airport. In addition, pedals and handles might have to be removed, as well as other parts being disassembled if over a certain size.
Fishing rods will have to be secured within a PVC cylinder for checking.
Surfboards will generally have to be stored in a surfboard bag and have the fins removed if possible.
Failure to stay within size limitations can have costly consequences according to an article by aph.com:
Passengers should also be careful with the size of their equipment, as travelling with a surfboard over 200cm on Air France will cost an extra £59, and on American Airlines, bikes over 62 inches will incur a £97 charge. Golfers and skiers flying with Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are lucky as the equipment is part of the checked baggage allowance, whereas windsurfers and surfers are charged £129 and £130 respectively.
It is always important to check with your airline’s instructions, and if ever in doubt, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.