Airline Surfboard Fees Part 1
Airline surfboard fees and policies, like pro surfers, vary greatly.
This is Tiago Pires. A happy bunny he most certainly isn’t. Tiago is not a happy bunny because: A) he has just been charged an extortionate amount of money to take his surfboard on a flight, having failed to research airline surfboard fees in advance; B) he is not a bunny rabbit.
Things are pretty shit for him all round. He posted the above photo to his Facebook page accompanied by the following status: “Iberia airlines is officially the worst airline for the surfing community. Paid 150€ for one surfboard from Lisbon to Spain!”
We don’t want you to be as unhappy as Tiago, and we suspect you mightn’t be as well resourced as the Portuguese Tiger, either.
Which is why we thought it would be a good idea to help you reduce your chances of getting shafted by producing a list of airlines big and small together with details of their surf baggage policies. In fact we thought it would be an excellent idea, but we soon realised that such a list would require extensive research, and so we let the professionals at Luex Surf Travel do it instead. These seasoned line-up explorers investigated near enough every airline flying to any surf destination you could wish to visit, and have been kind enough to share with us their findings in alphabetical order.
A few ground rules, before we start. Just because the list says a certain airline will take surfboards for free, it doesn’t mean they will necessarily take your surfboard for free — if, say, your preferred method of wave-riding is upon an 11ft SUP, or if you charge so hard you travel with nothing shorter than an 8’6. Where possible size and weight limits have been indicated. Also: all the information here is correct at the time of writing, and we will do our best to keep the list updated, but airlines are of course free to change their baggage policies whenever they like, and moreover to do so without consulting Surf Europe first. If you have any updates or corrections to offer, or have had an experience that contradicts the information that follows, do share in the comments below. As a general rule, it’s worth contacting an airline before flying with them; very often it is absolutely essential, in order to book a space for your surfboard. As another general rule, the prices quoted here are per flight, as opposed to per roundtrip. Now, let us begin.
Aeroflot: Free – €150
Whilst not explicitly listed, one board bag should count as part of your free baggage allowance, as with bikes/skis/snowboards. However you must call Aeroflot to request carriage.
Extra pieces, or oversize/overweight baggage will be charged. More info here.
Aer Lingus: Free – €30/€40
Boards are carried free on flights to/from North America, or for €30 (each direction) to all other destinations if paid in advance; €40 if paid at the airport.
Max board length 9 foot, or max 6.7 on regional flights. More info here.
Aero Mexico: $40 – $50 USD
$40 if paid on advance, $50 if paid at the airport. More info here.
Air Asia: Prices vary
Book online for a 50% discount and the option to add 15-40kg extra weight. Paying at the airport costs more and limits you to 20kg extra weight.
Max board length 9 foot. More info here.
Air Berlin: Free
1 board bag can be carried as your free baggage allowance. You must notify the airline that you’ll be taking a board at least 48 hours before your flight, and it must be packed in a suitable case.
If you exceed the number of pieces in your free baggage allowance, you will need to pay a fee of €50-75. No sports baggage on JustFly tickets. More info here.
Air Canada: $50 USD/CAD
While surfboards that fit within the dimensions can be counted as your free baggage allowance, you must pay a handling charge per board (NOT per bag) each direction.
Boards must be under 203cm long, and less than 277cm total (length + width + height)
More info here.
Air China: Free – $150+ USD
Board bags can be carried as free checked luggage if total linear dimensions (length + width + height) are less than 158cms.
If your board exceeds 158cm total liner length then you must pay an oversize baggage charge. Charge varies by route, size and weight, but expect to pay minimum $150 USD. More info here.