Traveling with Snow Sports Gear on Airlines

Airlines continue to change their fees and restrictions for baggage so be sure to check before you take off. Some airlines treat your ski/snowboard/boot bags as a special piece of luggage, but without additional fees; Frontier and Southwest. Skis and poles, or a snowboard, count as one of two checked bags passengers can transport without and charge except what they would charge for a regular piece of luggage. Most airlines allow for a "set of ski or snowboard equipment," meaning, skis, poles, bindings and boots count as one item of luggage, even if the boots are in a separate bag. More recently, airline mileage credit cards are offering perks for free baggage fees so be sure to check your card.

Links to popular airlines' policies can be found here.

From time to time you might get some push-back from an un-informed airline employee, so printing out the rules to bring with you isn't a bad idea! As long as you follow these guidelines, you should have no problem.

Exception to the airlines' rule
Usually, a checked bag is considered oversized if it is over 50 pounds or has a total outside measurement (height + width + depth) of more than 62 inches. Virtually all skis and snowboards bagged for travel exceed the 62-inch rule, but airlines realize that sports travel is an important component of the tourism industry, which is why they make exceptions for certain kinds of sports gear.

Watch your bag's weight
While they'll excuse the dimensions, the heavyweight rule will apply. A ski or snowboard bag will be charged extra if the bag weighs more than 50 pounds. Bags with one set of skis or a snowboard plus some gear will not exceed that limit.

Try to pack one set of gear per person
Airline policies do not specifically address double bags but they often will say a ski bag should only have "one set of equipment." However, if two people traveling together use a double bag, check-in clerks will probably allow it, according to a corporate communications spokesperson for Delta. But if the double bag belongs to one person, it could be subject to excess baggage charges.

The boot bag
Written policies say that skis, poles, bindings and boots count as one item. If your boot bag is your third checked bag, it should count with the ski bag as one item (the 50 pound weight limit will apply to both weighed together). Airline snowboard policies usually state that snowboards are exempt from the oversized rules, but say nothing about boots. If you explain that snowboard boots are part of the equipment, you should be able to check them as a unit, just like with skis. Best bet, get a gear bag that fits everything in it.

Liability Release
Though it's rare, some airlines require that you sign a damage waiver for gear packed in a soft bag. Most soft bags for skis and snowboards are rugged, lined and have protective features. Some companies make hard-shell travel containers for equipment if you want the extra protection.

Don't lock your ski or snowboard bags
If the metal in your ski and snowboard gear sets off a "false positive" during luggage screening, baggage handlers screening checked bags for explosives may need to open your luggage for a visual check. Like with regular luggage, laws allow for locks to be broken off to check contents.

Save the hassle and Ship Your Gear
Many people don't realize they can ship skis/snowboards to their destination via FedEx®. Pack up your ski/snowboard with clothes or ship your gear in a tube. Some specialty shops have shipping programs or enroll in the Ship Your Gear FedEx Program for a discount up to 16% on FedEx Express® and up to an 8% discount on FedEx Ground®. Travel worry-free and meet your gear at the mountain.

International Travel
If you're vacationing outside the U.S. and Canada, check with your airline regarding its baggage policy.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and Snowlink.com.

Traveling with Snow Sports Gear on Airlines

Airlines continue to change their fees and restrictions for baggage so be sure to check before you take off. Some airlines treat your ski/snowboard/boot bags as a special piece of luggage, but without additional fees; Frontier and Southwest. Skis and poles, or a snowboard, count as one of two checked bags passengers can transport without and charge except what they would charge for a regular piece of luggage. Most airlines allow for a "set of ski or snowboard equipment," meaning, skis, poles, bindings and boots count as one item of luggage, even if the boots are in a separate bag. More recently, airline mileage credit cards are offering perks for free baggage fees so be sure to check your card.

Links to popular airlines' policies can be found here.

From time to time you might get some push-back from an un-informed airline employee, so printing out the rules to bring with you isn't a bad idea! As long as you follow these guidelines, you should have no problem.

Exception to the airlines' rule
Usually, a checked bag is considered oversized if it is over 50 pounds or has a total outside measurement (height + width + depth) of more than 62 inches. Virtually all skis and snowboards bagged for travel exceed the 62-inch rule, but airlines realize that sports travel is an important component of the tourism industry, which is why they make exceptions for certain kinds of sports gear.

Watch your bag's weight
While they'll excuse the dimensions, the heavyweight rule will apply. A ski or snowboard bag will be charged extra if the bag weighs more than 50 pounds. Bags with one set of skis or a snowboard plus some gear will not exceed that limit.

Try to pack one set of gear per person
Airline policies do not specifically address double bags but they often will say a ski bag should only have "one set of equipment." However, if two people traveling together use a double bag, check-in clerks will probably allow it, according to a corporate communications spokesperson for Delta. But if the double bag belongs to one person, it could be subject to excess baggage charges.

The boot bag
Written policies say that skis, poles, bindings and boots count as one item. If your boot bag is your third checked bag, it should count with the ski bag as one item (the 50 pound weight limit will apply to both weighed together). Airline snowboard policies usually state that snowboards are exempt from the oversized rules, but say nothing about boots. If you explain that snowboard boots are part of the equipment, you should be able to check them as a unit, just like with skis. Best bet, get a gear bag that fits everything in it.

Liability Release
Though it's rare, some airlines require that you sign a damage waiver for gear packed in a soft bag. Most soft bags for skis and snowboards are rugged, lined and have protective features. Some companies make hard-shell travel containers for equipment if you want the extra protection.

Don't lock your ski or snowboard bags
If the metal in your ski and snowboard gear sets off a "false positive" during luggage screening, baggage handlers screening checked bags for explosives may need to open your luggage for a visual check. Like with regular luggage, laws allow for locks to be broken off to check contents.

Save the hassle and Ship Your Gear
Many people don't realize they can ship skis/snowboards to their destination via FedEx®. Pack up your ski/snowboard with clothes or ship your gear in a tube. Some specialty shops have shipping programs or enroll in the Ship Your Gear FedEx Program for a discount up to 16% on FedEx Express® and up to an 8% discount on FedEx Ground®. Travel worry-free and meet your gear at the mountain.

International Travel
If you're vacationing outside the U.S. and Canada, check with your airline regarding its baggage policy.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and Snowlink.com.