Q: I plan to do a lot of travel this year and to bring various sporting equipment along, a bike on one trip, a fishing rod on another, etc. Is this stuff subject to extra baggage fees, and if so, can you give me a rundown on which airlines might charge less than others?
A: Sporting equipment is subject to overweight and oversize fees, and many airlines also charge fees for certain types of sporting equipment. Typically, charges are $50 to $80 per item. Here's a partial list of the fees. As you can see, Southwest may be your best bet if they fly where you're going.
Alaska Airlines imposes an excess charge on sporting equipment that’s checked in addition to the free baggage allowance, and the airline won’t accept items over 115 linear inches or 100 pounds as checked baggage. In addition, the carrier charges a $50 fee for bicycles, pole vaulting equipment, and windsurfing equipment.
On AirTran, sporting equipment costs $65 per item if it is in excess of the free baggage allowance, and certain items—bicycles, scuba gear, surfboards—are not included in free baggage allowance. Each of these pieces of equipment will be assessed a $65 fee. Allegiant charges $50 each way for bicycles, surfboards, windsurfing boards, fishing rods, vaulting poles and gun boxes.
Air Canada passengers should register certain sporting equipment, such as skis and hockey sticks, to avoid oversize fees, and sporting equipment items are counted as pieces of luggage. Air Canada also charges extra handling fees for certain items. A bicycle or surfboard runs you $50 on one-way flights as well as each-way on round-trip and multi-segment flights, firearms are $50, and antlers cost $150 one way. American Airlines charges $80 for checking antlers, bicycles, hang gliders, javelins, scuba gear, surfboards, and windsurf/kitesurf boards.
ATA charges $50 for bicycles, kayaks, rafts, pole vaults, surfboard, and windsurfing equipment. Continental also charges special fees for sporting equipment and other items. Antlers, for example, will set you back $95. If you’re flying Delta, empty scuba dive tanks and windsurfing equipment are both subject to a $100 charge, and checking surf boards between Maui and Honolulu costs $20 each way.
On Frontier, antlers cost $75, and a surfboard, kiteboard or wave skis will run you $50. Bicycles are also $50 each, except for children’s bicycles not exceeding 62 linear inches or 50 pounds, which may be checked in place of one free bag.
JetBlue charges fees for some sporting equipment. Bicycles cost $50 each way per bike on domestic flights and $80 each way per bike on international flights. Surfboards, which can be checked on domestic flights only, cost $25 per board each way. Windsurfing equipment costs $50 in each direction.
If you’re flying Midwest, bicycles are $80 each way per bike.
On Northwest, bicycles will run you $80 each for bikes number 1-6 in the U.S. and Canada, and $180 each for 7 or more bicycles. Transatlantic bike fees are $150 per bicycle each way, and if you’re heading across the Pacific the fee is generally $130 each way per bicycle. On Transatlantic flights, golf bags as an additional piece of luggage are a flat fee of $75. Scuba equipment that includes an empty dive tank and surfing equipment is $80 each way in the U.S., more internationally. Vaulting poles can only be checked in the U.S., Puerto Rico, the Virgin Island and Canada, and there’s an $80 fee each way for each pole. Surfing equipment is $80 in each direction on domestic flights, more on international ones.
If you’re flying Skybus, oversize sports equipment such as bicycles, snowboards, surfboards, skis and fishing rods cost $25 each for each trip segment.
On Southwest, windsurfing boards, surfboards, vaulting poles, bicycles and life rafts may be transported for $50 in each direction.
On Spirit, special handing charges apply for surfboards, scuba tanks and bikes, which are $50 each way. United says it has special handing fees for antlers, bicycles, cellos, surfboards, sailboards, and scuba gear.
US Airways charges $80 in each direction for antlers, bicycles, kayaks and canoes, and windsurfing equipment. Virgin America charges $50 for bicycles, surf boards, windsurfing equipment and antlers/horns.