Airline Luggage Maddness

16 10 2009
Naish Golf Bag

Naish Golf Bag

I recently had a funny airline luggage experience that reminded me how crazy the whole airline luggage business is. I flew to Vancouver with my kiteboarding gear packed in the bag shown above.  This bag is labeled “golf” and weighs 45lbs fully loaded.  Because the airlines think it’s full of golf clubs they let me fly for free with it.  If I rolled up with the same bag and it was labeled “Kiteboarding” I would be charged $75 because it’s over sized.  Ironically on my flight back from Vancouver I also had with me a used 5’10” surfboard I bought from a fellow kiteboarder. This board weighs about 12lbs in its bag.  Because it’s a surfboard they charged $75 for it.

Another time with the same airline I flew to LA with my touring bike in a box.  They charged me $75 for the bike even though I had called ahead and was told that as long as it was one of my two allowed bags it would fly for free. On the return flight I couldn’t find a large bike box and  had to pack my bike into two smaller boxes.  I was expecting to get charged $75 for the first box for being over sized and then $75 + $50 for the second box since it was over sized and I now had 3 bags.  When I checked in they didn’t charge me a penny for my luggage.

What did I learn from all this:

  1. Lie about the contents of your luggage.  If 45lbs of golf clubs fly for free and the exact same bag with kiteboarding stuff costs $75 I feel no shame or remorse for not telling the truth.
  2. Be early for your flight and be super friendly to the check in staff.  The folks at the check in counter can pretty much do whatever they like when it comes to over sized luggage.  If you are there early the plane will be empty and all they need is a reason to waive the fees so smile and chat them up.
  3. Be ready for anything to happen.  If the airline has an official policy that works in your favour print the details off their website or get the name and tel# of someone you spoke with as proof.
  4. If it all goes pear shaped and you are getting charged a bunch of $$$ accept it with grace.  Freaking out will likely not do anything to change the situation and you are just starting off your trip on a sour note.



6 responses

16 10 2009

Lately the airlines I fly have been much less forgiving — I am always charged for my “golf bags” — consider it a gift that you didn’t get charged!

16 10 2009

Westjet – has a policy not to charge for golfclubs…presumably to entice those golfing business travelers.

18 10 2009

i recently flew to vancouver for a bikepolo tournament and then from there onto las vegas for the interbike show and more bikepolo, via westjet. to avoid the extra charges, i put my bike into a hockey bag (45lbs total) and when asked what was in there simply answered “polo gear”. worked like a charm. was charged $40 leaving calgary (oversized bag) but no charges after that leaving vancouver or LV.

18 10 2009

Hmmm….hockey bag….that’s smart….=-) I’ll have to keep that in mind.

14 04 2010
Aaron Garland

I recently flew delta to Colombia. I checked their website and printed the page that said Bikes and Sporting Equipment will be considered your second bag. Showed up to the airport and was charged $300. Didn’t read the fine print “other charges may apply.” I had a hard time swallowing that one.

18 11 2011

With SunWing they allow scuba gear for free. We put or fins and mask in with our kite gear and had no problem

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