With almost three weeks of rain and unsurfable conditions here in the Pacific Northwest, we are all itching to get away. The worst way to start out any surf trip is busting your budget before you even get there on ridiculous board bag fees. We’ve done the hard work for you, and painstakingly combed through over 60 airline’s websites to try and find out what to expect when you book with them. While these have all been updated for 2020 to the best of our ability and knowledge, we always recommend that you take these as a guide, and call the respective airline to double check their surfboard policy before booking. Happy travels!
Aer Lingus - Free on transatlantic flights as part of your baggage allowance. Within Europe, $40 Euros when paid online, $50 Euros when paid at the airport. If you upgrade to business class, boards are included, so if the upgrade fee is only $40-50 euros, it might be worth it.
Aero Mexico - $75 within Mexico, $150 for international flights.
Air Asia - $60 at the ticket counter, $50 when booked online. These guys don’t depart out of the US, but if you’re buying a cheaper ticket to Indo or elsewhere in that region, you may be starting your trip home with them, which means you will be paying their fee’s. Also, if you fly to, from, or through Australia, you can have one board up to 15kg (roughly 33 pounds) for free.
Air Calin - Can take a 50 lb boardbag for free in addition to your regular checked bag. 9’8” max board size.
Air Canada - $100 per board for each way of travel on round trip and multi-segment flights. This is a per-board fee, so two boards = $200.
Air China - Anywhere from $400 - $600 depending on weight. If you can avoid this airline, do so.
Air France - $75 - $150 depending on where you depart from.
Air New Zealand - Under 6’6” and 50 Ibs, your boards fly free. Over that and you’re looking at $180.
Air Tahiti Nui - Free of charge as long as it’s less than 50 Ibs and under 8’2”. Over 8’2” or 50 Ibs, it’ll be $112.
Alaska Airlines - $30 fee for boardbags unless you are an Alaska Visa Signature Card holder and then your boards fly free as part of your checked baggage allowance!
American Airlines - $150 regardless of the number of checked bags. Multiple boards less than 70 Ibs in one bag are considered one board. Brazil flights are $42.50 for the first board and $85 for additional.
ANA - Free as part of your allowed check in baggage, must be under 9’5”.
Avianca - $100-$150 For most destinations. Allowed maximum 3 boards per bag, with a max weight of 70 Ibs and no longer than 12 feet.
Azores Airlines - Counted towards your total weight allowance (they give you an extra 22 lbs for a surfboard). On international flights from the US or Canada, your total weight allowance in Economy is one bag at 50 lbs, so you could likely get away with a board bag up to 72 lbs if that was your only checked boardbag. For domestic flights and European flights, it’s the same allowance in economy.
Bahamasair - Treated as checked bag as long as your bag is under 6 foot and under 100 pounds. Over 6 feet and you’re looking at $150
British Airways - Can be treated as your free checked bag as long as it’s under 6’3” and weighs less than 51 Ibs. Must be packed in a recognizable surfboard bag.
Cathay Pacific - Varies depending on destination ranging from free to extremely expensive. If you have a longboard, this is probably not the airline for you. For instance, most flights, they claim your surfboard counts as part of your allowed checked baggage, but on flights to and from the Americas, they have rules about the length of the board needs to be under 5’2, which is pretty unrealistic, otherwise it will be $150. We did have a couple team riders report good experiences with them to and from Bali going through Hong Kong. We recommend calling the airline to sort it out before booking, however it might just be kind of a wildcard depending on who ends up checking you in.
Cebu Pacific Air - Depends on your route. For instance, from Guam to Manila, it's $44 booked online, or $54 at the airport. From Sydney to Manila it's $73 AUD booked online, or $90 AUD at the airport.
China Air - Varies with route, fees range from $115 - $220. One board per person. Call the airline ahead of booking.
China Eastern - This one is bizarre. They claim they measure their dimensions of bags as W+L+H, and all of that has to be less than 6’6” to avoid some serious excess charges. If you can do so, it’ll be $165 as long as the bag weighs less than 50 Ibs. Otherwise it goes to a staggering $445 if it’s over 6’6” total dimensions, or over $50. It’s also not clear if they add the fees together if it’s over weight & oversize, which would make your boardbag charges $890. Best to try and avoid this airline if possible.
Condor - $85 if you book your board online and $155 if you wait until the airport (flying from the US, to South Africa, South and Central America & Southeast Asia). Flying within Europe and to the Middle East, booking ahead online runs between $55 and $70, or $135 if you wait until the airport. Cannot be longer than 9’10” and no more than 44 Ibs. If you book business class, you’re board will fly as part of your baggage allowance.
COPA - $150 flat fee, must make a reservation for the board in advance (at least 48hrs before departure). Two boards per bag.
Delta Airlines - Now considered part of your baggage allowance. That means, if you’re traveling economy, you’re first checked bag costs only $30 (second is $40). However, make sure the bag is less than 50 lbs, and total dimensions of the bag (W+H+L) don’t exceed 115 inches. That also means if you have the Delta Gold credit card (or better), your first checked bag is free (so if your board is your only bag, that’s free).
Lion Air - Roughly $15-20 depending on the exchange rate. It’s recommended that you call in advance. We have an email out to them to try and confirm.
Easyjet - Approximately $50 if you pay in advance, $60 at the airport. One board per passenger and it must be under 70 Ibs.
Emirates - Counts as part of your allowed checked baggage. Keep it under linear inches (W+H+L) and depending on your ticket, under 44 to 65 lbs.
Eithad - Counts as part of your allowed checked baggage.
Fiji Airways - $120 - $200 per boardbag depending on your destination.
Flybe - $40 Euros per bag. Should be reserved in advance.
Garuda Indonesia - Free up to 65 lbs.
GOL Airlines - Part of your baggage allowance. If you have a international Promo or Light fare (you will likely have one of these fares, let's be honest), you'll pay $15 online or $30 at the counter if your board is your only bag. If it's your second bag, it would be $35 online, or $70 at the airport. A plus ticket allows one bag free. Domestic flights run anywhere from $15 - $35 depending on if it's booked online or at the airport, and if it's your only bag or your second bag.
Hawaiian Airlines - $100 to and from the mainland, $35 between islands. $150 on international flights.
Iberia - Long haul flights, a board counts as part of your baggage allowance. Short haul flights are $55. Max weight 50 lbs.
Icelandair - $99 for travel between Iceland and the US/CAN, $116 for travel between Europe and the US/CAN, and $83 for travel between Iceland and Europe. Charged per flight leg when traveling with a stopover in Iceland.
Interjet - Free, up to 11’6” and 66 Ibs.
Japan Airlines - Allowed as part of your standard bag allowance as long as it’s 6’3” or smaller, and below your tickets baggage weight allowance. Best to keep the weight down.
JetBlue - $100 per board, one board per boardbag. Can’t weigh over 100 lbs. Surfboards not accepted to/from Bermuda, Cuba, Haiti, Peru, Port of Spain, *Santo Domingo and Santiago, Dominican Republic. *Surfboards ARE accepted on flights to/from Puerto Plata and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Jetstar - $25 per boardbag when paid online during booking, plus whatever you pay for baggage weight allowance. In a somewhat confusing system, Jetstar seems to base your baggage weight allowance on your ticket level, and from what we can tell, you need to purchase additional weight allowances to match how heavy your boardbag is going to be (the $25 is there regardless). This can be relatively minimal if you have a light boardbag, but if you have a lot of weight, charges can get pretty excessive. It’s very important to book this weight allowance online before getting to the airport, as you get a significant discount for doing so beforehand.
KLM - You can bring one board in place of your checked luggage. It does say that flights to the US can have other fees, but they do not specify what those fees are.
Korean Air - Free as long as the boardbag’s total linear dimensions are less than 115inches. Excess charges if bigger or heavier are $200.
Latam Airlines - For flights between the US and South America, $100 per boardbag, max 3 boards per bag. Most other routes are $50-$100.
Lufthansa - Anywhere from $150 - $300, dependent upon your route. The longer the route, the more expensive it is. It’s recommended to call before booking.
Malaysia Airlines - Free as long as it’s within your checked baggage allowance, must weight less than 70 Ibs and be less than 8’.
Mokulele Airlines - $35, must be no longer than 6'8" and less than 70 Ibs.
Norweigan Air - For all flights other than international long haul, $35 - 45 BGP paid online, $45 - $70 BGP at the airport. For international long haul flights, $60 BGP paid online, $70 BGP paid at the airport.
Qantas - Free as part of your checked baggage (2 pieces for international economy). May not exceed 70 Ibs and 9 feet.
Qatar Airways - Free as long as it’s within your checked baggage allowance. If over your allowance, it’s anywhere between $240 and $1,750, so don’t let it be over your allowance!
Ryanair - $55 Euros per flight if paid in advance, $65 Euros at the airport. Max weight 44 Ibs.
Scandanavian Airlines (SAS) - Part of your allowed free baggage. If you have too many bags, it’ll be anywhere from $40 - $109 depending on your destination.
Singapore Airlines - Free, boardbag counts towards your free baggage allowance. If you exceed the baggage allowance, normal additional baggage charges apply. Cannot weigh more than 70 Ibs.
South African Airways - Free as long as its smaller than 6’5” and weighs less than 50 Ibs. Over 6’5”, it’s considered cargo & probably going to cost you significantly.
Southwest - To and from Hawaii, it can be substituted for one checked bag, which as long as you only have two checked bags total, it should fly free. There’s also a good chance you could sweet talk a ticket counter person into providing that same deal for you on a different leg that wasn’t going to Hawaii (or at least it’s worth a shot). If that doesn’t work, it’ll cost you $75.
Spirit - $100 one way, 2 boards allowed in a bag. Certain destinations in Central and South America as well as the Carribean only allow boards up to 6’8” and not weigh over 50 Ibs.
Sri Lankan Airlines - Included in your free baggage allowance. Over that, it’ll be $250, so make sure you don’t have too many checked bags.
Swiss - For boards under 6’5”, $80-92 for flights within Europe, $172 - 287 for intercontinental flights. For boards over 6’5”, $126-149 for flights within Europe, $287 - $460 for intercontinental flights. Cannot weigh more than 70 Ibs.
TAP Portugal - Shortboards up to 6’5” are $70 for flights within Europe and to Morocco, $140 for intercontinental flights. Longboards are $140 for flights within Europe and to Morocco, and $185 for intercontinental flights.
Thai Airways - $119 on most routes, however certain routes to and from Australia,/ New Zealand, your boardbag is able to be included in your baggage allowance.
Tui - $65 Euros for any flight. Max weight of 66 lbs.
United Airlines - Free if you are traveling to or from California. Otherwise it will be anywhere from $100 to $200 per board, depending on your destination.
Virgin Australia - Free as long as your boardbag weighs less than 70 Ibs and is no longer than 9’10”. Any bigger and it will not be accepted.
Virgin Atlantic - Free as part of your baggage allowance. Can’t exceed 6’3” in length and 50 Ibs.
Westjet - $100 - 118 for all destinations, plus a $50 “handling fee”. . Cannot be over 9’8”
Wings Air - Same as Lion Air, roughly $15-20 depending on the exchange rate. It’s recommended that you call in advance. We have an email out to them to try and confirm.
Alaska Airlines, Delta, Virgin Australia, Qantas ANA, Garuda Indonesia & Singapore Airlines. For a domestic airline, Alaska is a great bet for those of us in Oregon, as they have tons of flights out of PDX. They have a lot of destinations and have a partner network that can get you almost anywhere, however be careful on long international flights with this; while you may start your trip with Alaska, you may leave your destination with a much less board-friendly airline. Also their $30 surfboard fee makes for a pretty sweet deal, especially when you compare to other domestic airline fees. However now you can add Delta to the board friendly list as well, with an enormous network, and only $30-$40 for a boardbag depending on how many checked bags you have, Delta has gone from worst to first. Both of these airlines offer free checked bags with their respective credit card holders, which includes boards. Virgin Australia and Qantas, and Singapore make the list for their high end service and of course the fact that surfboards fly free without some of the small size or weight restrictions of other airlines requirements for free boardbags.
Our Least Favorites
American, Air Canada & Lufthansa. American has a solid reputation for destroying people’s boards, and at $150 for a boardbag is awfully steep, and it adds insult to injury when you pay that and have your boards show up in pieces. On the plus side, they don’t charge per board, so that’s nice, but they’re still the steepest US carrier. Air Canada charges $100 per board, which is ridiculous if you’re trying to bring multiple boards to a destination. Lufthansa charges way to much, and seems to get more expensive the further you fly, which makes no sense.
United & Southwest. Historically enemies to the surfing populace, United has recently updated their policies to be a bit more board friendly. We wish United would expand their California boardbag policy route-wide; if they did, it would open up pretty much anywhere in the world to fly boardbag fee free, and that would be awesome. Southwest’s Hawaii policy is very nice, we just wish they would expand it to the rest of the network.