Travelling with Skis/Boards
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7 users
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kennedy
March 12, 2008
Member since 12/8/2001 🔗
792 posts
I'm flying out to Tahoe this weekend with Southwest. I've never flown with them on a ski trip before so I've been looking into their baggage policy which in terms of boards is nebulous at best. All airlines have bag limits and weight limits but with board and ski bags you also get into dimension limits. For example SW allows 2 bags at 50lbs (this is more than adequate I think) each. A ski/board bag can be counted as one of those two bags.

Where it gets dicey is where they consider an oversize bag to be a maximum of 62 inches when measured as length+width+height. So take a pair of 160cm skis, thats 60 inches. Good luck making the other 2 dimensions add up to less or equal to 2 inches. Any ski/board bag is also limited to 1 set of kit i.e. 1 pair of skis, poles and boots or 1 board and 1 pair of boots, technically no pants, jackets, gloves etc in the bag. I don't think they'll ding me as long as my bag is not excessively heavy or huge. My feeling is it's to discourage people over packing bags, e.g. one of those double decker board bags with multiple boards and boots and scads of extra equipment that the baggage handlers struggle to get into the hold.

I've seen people get dinged in Europe when flying the likes of Ryanair but what experiences have you had traveling with kit here in the US. I've flown with United multiple times with no probs. Anyone else have any comments?
JohnL
March 12, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
I was just about to start a thread related to traveling with skis.

I've flown Southwest on ski trips twice this winter; the last one was a few days ago. You should be fine. I travel with a large wheeled duffle bag (serves as my suitcase and holds my ski boots) and a padded ski bag (probably can hold 190 cm skis in it and I pack thermal underwear, ski pants and polartec around my skis.) Total weight for the two checked items was 68 lbs - I asked what it was since I've heard other airlines are restricting the number and weight of checked items.

I've seen plenty of relatively large snowboard bags, so they should be fine. IIRC, Southwest restricts a ski bag to contain a maximum of two skis (not an issue unless you are a total gear geek.)

In the past, airlines used to consider a boot bag and a ski bag a single item. Not sure if they still do, but I've found it more convenient (and probably safer for my boots), to pack my boots at the bottom of a duffel.

I read that United and USAir(?) are now restricting passengers to one checked bag weighing 50lbs. Beyond that, they charge extra $$. Not sure if they make an exception for skis, snowboards, golf clubs, etc.
JimK - DCSki Columnist
March 12, 2008
Member since 01/14/2004 🔗
2,721 posts
No first hand info, but second hand info here??:
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?p=867280
JohnL
March 12, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
Further details on my Southwest trip: flew out Mar 3 and returned Mar 10 (after the Mar 1 effective date mentioned in the Epic thread.)

When checking my bags on the flight out (but not on the flight back), I was asked to sign a waiver that Southwest was not liable for damaged skis (but was liable for lost skis.) IIRC, the required liability per bag is relatively low (may not cover full replacement cost of the ski gear.)

When I pack my ski bag, there is at least one inch of clothing around all of the ski edges and much more at the ends. Sometime during the course of the return trip, the bindings of *both* skis ended up locking down (so the release lever at the back pushes out, sticking visibly out from the rest of the ski bag. Fortunately, the bag did not rip.)

I've had this happen several times before, has anyone else had this happen? Not sure how this could happen; maybe the skis were dropped real hard on the binding or the ski bags was jammed in a very narrow place, putting downward/inward pressure on the ski bindings, causing them to lock down.
pagamony - DCSki Supporter
March 12, 2008
Member since 02/23/2005 🔗
838 posts
 Originally Posted By: JohnL

When I pack my ski bag, there is at least one inch of clothing around all of the ski edges and much more at the ends. Sometime during the course of the return trip, the bindings of *both* skis ended up locking down (so the release lever at the back pushes out, sticking visibly out from the rest of the ski bag. Fortunately, the bag did not rip.)


I pack the same way (!) but have not had the bindings get locked. I checkin at curbside with the skycap and have never even been asked about the bags. This year, we had five people and checked 8 bags - 2 full length ski bags, a large snowboard bag, a boot bag, 2 gear bags (more boots, helments etc...) and 2 suit cases. Not one word about it. Lucky ? mabye. I imagine that next year I will have to pay 50 or 75 bucks, which is annoying but not enough to make me cancel a trip.
JohnL
March 12, 2008
Member since 01/6/2000 🔗
3,516 posts
 Originally Posted By: JimK
No first hand info, but second hand info here??:
http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?p=867280


The Epic thread linked by JimK/JamesJ has some excellent info on it. I highly recommend it.
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 12, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
How about a Sportstube? I took them to Big Sky, Europe, Vancouver and Colorado without a hitch. They're hard shells so if there's nicks and damage, it is to the casing not to the skis... And nowadays, they make the sub-casings where you can take the goggles and accessories without worrying about scratching or bumping them.
Steve
March 12, 2008
Member since 02/15/2006 🔗
160 posts
Kennedy,

I did the BWI-Denver trip in Feb on Southwest. Flight was packed, every seat taken. 1 sporttube, 1 boot bag (that also contained helmet, goggles, bibs, gloves etc.) and 1 large suitcase. They weighed the suitcase (I never learned to pack well) but let it through. The porter at BWI asked if the boot bag was, well, boots. I said yes and gave him $5. But that was before United came out with the extra charges. Also I hear that Southwest grounded a bunch of planes that have not been inspected today.

Good luck, hope you have a great time in Tahoe.

Steve
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 13, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
Never had a problem on Delta, Swissair or Continental. They took my two-ski tube with its content.
skier219
March 14, 2008
Member since 01/8/2005 🔗
1,318 posts
Warning about the sport tubes -- TSA often does not put them back together correctly when they inspect the case, and many people on Epic Ski have reported issues with this. The tube and its contents will come out on the other end of the trip in piecemeal. I used to like the tubes, but consider them a gamble nowadays. I like using a padded zipper ski bag with a hard bottom and wheels. Never any issues with damage.

When I travel, I check my ski bag which has skis, poles, extra clothes, helmet, and other crap. I carry on a boot bag and suitcase containing everything I need to ski for at least 2 days. That way, if the airline loses my ski bag, I still have the important stuff and can rent skis as needed.

Craig
lbotta - DCSki Supporter
March 14, 2008
Member since 10/18/1999 🔗
1,527 posts
You have a point... I don't think TSA hires people according to their customer care values...
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