Q. Hi, I'm confused about baggage allowances and at what point they begin charging for extra baggage, or special items. For example, JetBlue's website says that no item exceeding 80in in total dimensions can be checked, but an attendant verbally told me that a fishing rod travel tube would be fine, no charge. What gives??? Thanks!
A. It varies according to airline, of course. A fishing pole is oversized, true, but it's pretty lightweight and doesn't take up much room down in cargo, so that's probably why they chose to scrap the rule in your favor.
But your next check-in agent may not be so generous, so it's always good to read the official policy regarding whatever oversized item you plan to cart along. That fishing rod could be free, or it could end up costing $150 if you're flying a Northwest Trans-Atlantic route.
When it comes to traveling with bicycles, some airlines, like Southwest, will let you off without a fee, just so long as you adhere to their packing specifications, provided you haven't already exceeded your bag allowance. Otherwise the going rate for bikes is around $80 average for travel within the US and Canada. Most airlines ask that pedals and handelbars be removed and boxed up, and should be able provide you with a slim box, used especially for bikes, although it's a good idea to call in advance and check.
And there's a rule for every odd whatchamagadget under the sun - from dry ice to church organs and bowling balls. Afraid of flying? Southwest allows parachutes to be checked, free of charge, but asks that you refrain from wearing them during flight.
You can check our site for a summary of excess baggage rules here.