Best Airlines For Traveling With Surfboards

Let’s get real: baggage fees are a pain.

It’s no secret that commuters across the country despise having to pay $25 or $50 for the right to bring their underwear on vacation with them. So much so, in fact, that the very first article I ever penned for Gadling advised travelers on how to leave the plane with more bags than you boarded with.

More than just commuters, however, you know who REALLY hate baggage fees?


While commuters may be able to sacrifice their favorite V-neck sweater when packing for a flight, surfers traveling without surfboards are in for a long vacation filled with swimming and skipping rocks.

Sure, there are lots of surf destinations where you can rent boards, but what if you’re going feral to a location without board rental? What if you’re a traveling pro surfer who needs his/her same quiver of boards to compete for contests?

Bottom line is you’re going to have to pack them on the plane, and depending where in the world you are, that can be a costly situation. I had a landlord once pay $650 in board fees flying Indonesia to Hawaii, and as you might expect, he was not exactly pleased.How do kite surfers get around this dilemma? Throw all the gear into a golf bag and make use of a loophole, which waives fees for golf bags. (Seriously, who needs the baggage break more, poor surfers or rich golfers?).

Loopholes aside, in the Spring 2012 installment of Board Bag Blues posted on Surfline, the surf forecasting team has compiled a helpful and thorough rundown of global airlines and what they charge for transporting surfboards.

The winners?

Air New Zealand, Qantas, British Airways, LAN, Air Tahiti Nui, Singapore, Sri Lankan Airlines, South African Airlines, Malaysian, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Aer Lingus, Air Emirates and Interjet. All transport boards for free though conditions apply.


Cathay Pacific ($600!), United ($100-$200), Delta ($150) and a host of others.

Costs are usually per board and though you’ll sometimes get away with cramming three boards into a windsurf board bag, don’t be surprised if they make you open it up and count the boards.

Need more inspiration? Check out Surfline’s travel section to get you planning your next surf trip. Then, of course, good luck deciding which airline is the best bet to get you there.