PSA on Traveling with Longboards

dtorrent

Well-Known Member
Jun 21, 2004
444
358
I recently travelled out to the west coast via Alaska Air, which explicitly states they will accept maximum length 115 inches on Boeing 737 and Airbus planes. Great experience and the boards (9'2 double and 8'0 coffin bags) made it undamaged. Board bags count as normal checked baggage.

Coming back out of Orange County (SNA) via Delta, which I have flown numerous times with longboards...it was a different story. Yes I know I am at fault for not paying attention to their 115 linear inch calculation, which probably equates to a 7 foot taco board bag. You would have thought the aghast ticket agents had never seen a longboard bag..in California. The supervisor, working at John Wayne for 10 years, stated they had never allowed boards that size to fly. I informed him I had flown with the exact same two bags last summer, which got me exactly nowhere as he informed me back that the boards were not getting on the plane.

So the long and the short is: I missed my flight and had to scramble to make arrangements to store the boards in CA. You might take a gamble that you will have a more receptive ticket agent than I, but they appear to be viciously wielding their tape measures at SNA and enforcing the 115 linear inch max. Both United and American have the same linear inch rule. Either fly Alaska or travel with smaller boards.
 

hardyw

Active Member
Jun 26, 2021
85
122
NJ
Part of what is so frustrating about this process is that it's totally arbitrary. Last time I flew to El Salvador on Delta they didn't even charge me for my 8'6 double pro lite bag. I was expecting to pay $200ish each way for it. I did have to pay on the way home.
 

takedown

Well-Known Member
Jun 26, 2017
609
495
Eugene, OR
Does anyone have an idea how the pro longboarders travel? I have yet to find a policy that allows for boards larger than 9'5. I'm considering a couple of trips for longboarding camps next year, but it sure seems to tough to get a board to the various destinations south without major hassle or expense.
 

PricklyPears

New Member
Aug 11, 2021
9
11
TX
Most of my surf travel has been via Southwest (destinations include KOA, SJD, LAX; home airport at AUS) and always with mid 9' boards. Combined linear inches of the bag are...a lot. Never been turned away. The website currently says, "Oversized bag: $75 (max 80 inches)". Pretty sure I once saw someone at the oversized baggage claim grab a two-piece pole vault pole, which is like an 8' or 10' tube. Anyway, came to give an endorsement of SWA but maybe I've been living closer the edge than I thought. And one trip closer to my own cautionary tale lol.
 

paipodude

Well-Known Member
Oct 27, 2019
261
328
Maryland, or By-the-Sea
dtorrent, thank you for sharing your personal experience, the good and the bad.

Processing of the board bags at check-in are largely arbitrary but knowing the rules for your booking are important for knowing what could be enforced. It is really maniacal keeping up with the varying changes across all the airlines (that goes for regular baggage as well). The example of the pole vault pole could very well be an explicit exemption from the linear inches rule. Also, sports teams often have other sets of rules for team flights as part of group bookings.

American Airlines has loosened its rules during the past 2 years. SWA generally has been good to me.

Devil in the Details for each airline: some allow surf gear only in the bag or the bag reverts to general baggage rules. There is also a general confusion over linear inches and bag length. Then there are the rules that defy understanding when a kite board is treated the same as a sail board.

Kayak has a useful reference site:

Wave Tribe 2022 Update:

Trust, but Verify!
 

MrTips

New Member
May 3, 2019
7
3
PHL
Both United and American have the same linear inch rule.

Just to be specific, American's linear inch rule is 126 in / 320 cm, and the maximum weight is 70 lbs / 32 kgs, subject to the airplane size and available cargo space. That should allow for a 7'6" bag if they're sticking hard to the rules, but nothing beyond that. United's policy does match Delta's though, as you said.
 

paipodude

Well-Known Member
Oct 27, 2019
261
328
Maryland, or By-the-Sea
The other little kickaboo is when dealing with connections, originating and/or destination, as to which airline's baggage rules are in effect. Watch out especially on those regional airlines connecting to a major airline.
 

avaday

Active Member
Oct 9, 2015
117
37
USA New York
I recently travelled out to the west coast via Alaska Air, which explicitly states they will accept maximum length 115 inches on Boeing 737 and Airbus planes. Great experience and the boards (9'2 double and 8'0 coffin bags) made it undamaged. Board bags count as normal checked baggage.

Coming back out of Orange County (SNA) via Delta, which I have flown numerous times with longboards...it was a different story. Yes I know I am at fault for not paying attention to their 115 linear inch calculation, which probably equates to a 7 foot taco board bag. You would have thought the aghast ticket agents had never seen a longboard bag..in California. The supervisor, working at John Wayne for 10 years, stated they had never allowed boards that size to fly. I informed him I had flown with the exact same two bags last summer, which got me exactly nowhere as he informed me back that the boards were not getting on the plane.

So the long and the short is: I missed my flight and had to scramble to make arrangements to store the boards in CA. You might take a gamble that you will have a more receptive ticket agent than I, but they appear to be viciously wielding their tape measures at SNA and enforcing the 115 linear inch max. Both United and American have the same linear inch rule. Either fly Alaska or travel with smaller boards.
i had to take delta with my son as he was traveling for a team event in another sport and delta was booked for him. long story short, after that event, we planned to surf in CA so we were stressing the NY outbound flight. got lucky and delta charged us for a normal bad (which is fine if under the linear limit) even though we had a 9’4 hard case weighing 75lbs and a 7ft coffin bag. another $30

on the return however, a red eye no less, the agent had us by the b..lls. can’t take the bag she said. to big. i pleaded and argued u took it on the way here. she said use cargo. luckily it was closed. but unlucky to get this witch of an agent with a tape measure. she charged us just $30’for the 7ft bag but got us for $150 oversized and another $150 for overweight or something. so over $330 coming back. i knew the rule, i knew it could be denied, but i figured i could skirt it. whatever, i’ll never book an airline that explicitly states they don’t have to take a longboard. read the fine print for any airline you choose to fly at your own risk.
 

O'cliff

Member
Nov 16, 2021
32
90
Santa Cruz
I just flew San Jose, Ca to Zihuatanejo. It is a flight I have done on Alaska many times with a longboard. There is a stop over/switch planes at LAX.

Seems that nowadays (post-covid) the SJC to LAX segment is on one of those small Embraer commuter jets, so short boards only. LAX to ZIH is on a 737, so larger rules apply. They've taken what used to be a cheap, easy surf trip, and turned it into a PITA. If I'm going to have to fly out of SFO to avoid the little jets, there are lots of other destinations (and airlines) that could be more appealing.
 




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