How to Travel With a Surfboard


©istockphoto/Leonardo PatriziSome of the best waves are halfway across the world, but get­ting your board to them is no easy mat­ter. Air­lines charge ridicu­lous fees and you have to make sure your board is pro­tect­ed dur­ing the flight. Fol­low these tips and the next time you have to fly your board over­seas to catch a big wave will be a breeze.

Is There a Fee?
Each air­line sets its own fees per­tain­ing to surf­boards, so you’ll have to check their web­site or call ahead to know how much you’ll be pay­ing. Some charge as lit­tle as $40 flat per board, while oth­ers charge $200. You might get tagged with tax­es in each coun­try you fly out of as well, so you have to do your research or fly­ing your board might cost more than the price of your ticket.

Are There Dimen­sion Limits?
Surf­boards take up a lot of space and air­lines are with­in their rights to lim­it how many they allow on board the car­go area. The size of your board will also affect the fee you’ll have to pay. Some air­lines won’t allow long boards out­right, while oth­ers will lim­it how many you can trav­el with.

Pack it Properly
You’re prob­a­bly going to have to sign a waiver—the air­lines aren’t inter­est­ed in cov­er­ing any dam­age to your board. To avoid breaks and bends, you’ll need to be extra care­ful when pack­ing for the flight. Con­sid­er remov­ing the fins if possible.

Line the inside of the bag with bub­ble wrap (or wrap your board entire­ly) or tow­els to cush­ion it on all sides. The nose, tails, and rails are most sus­cep­ti­ble to dam­age, so def­i­nite­ly throw enough bub­ble wrap around them to make them snug enough in the bag that they won’t be able to move around dur­ing the flight.

Pro­tect Your Surfboard
Aside from wrap­ping your board, you need to secure it so no one can peek inside and mess with the con­tents of your bag. Find a lock or good bag pro­tec­tor that wraps around so no one can get inside. Put your name some­where on a tag on the out­side so you can iden­ti­fy your board, just in case some­one man­ages to hop on the same plane with the same bag. It happens.

Buy the Right Bag
Don’t hop on an air­plane with a cheap board bag you found at Wal-Mart. Invest in a high-qual­i­ty bag with lin­ing and oth­er designs that’ll pro­tect your board. Don’t set­tle for some­thing thin that’s like­ly to rip at the slight­est provo­ca­tion just to save a few bucks.

Arrive Ear­ly
Boards are a pain in the butt to drag through the air­port and they some­times present a has­sle at check-in. Don’t wait until the last minute. You want to find out about any prob­lems ahead of time so you can make adjust­ments if need­ed. Arrive for your flight a few hours ear­ly to give you time to check in and make sure they’re stor­ing your board prop­er­ly and can answer any ques­tions you have.

Be Nice to Staff
Above all, be nice to the air­line staff. Once that board goes through their lit­tle con­vey­or belt, you’ve no choice but to trust them to take prop­er care of it. Slap on a smile and a friend­ly atti­tude and don’t tick them off. You wouldn’t want to arrive at your des­ti­na­tion to find a fin just so hap­pened to break off in transit.