When chasing waves around the world, surfboard baggage fees are a fact of life. Although you may not be able to bring your entire quiver, it is possible to fly with a few surfboards as checked baggage. To make this easier for your, we have compiled a list of the best US-based airlines that make it easier to fly with your surfboards. Although you will still likely pay a surfboard excess baggage fee, these are the airlines with the most reasonable rates and rules for flying with your surfboard. This list is for US-based airlines, so handy if planning to fly to domestic US, and chasing waves in Hawaii, Central America, Puerto Rico, or the Caribbean.
This list takes into account the surfboard fee for each airline, as well as its rules regarding the number of boards per boardbag and size restrictions. When flying with shortboards, this is usually no problem, but bringing anything longer than 7-feet, such as an SUP or longboard, may be a bit more difficult.
As you may notice, many airlines have a set limit for size and weigh of a boardbag which is accepted, but do not limit how many boards are inside the bag as long as it fits within the allowed weight. However, there are some airlines that charge a fee per board, so you may be charged twice for having 2 boards in a single bag.
Alaska Airlines treats surfboards as a regular piece of baggage, and charges its standard oversize and overweight fees. Packing a boardbag with 1 or 2 surfboards will usually not exceed the 23kg/50lbs weight limit, but you will be charged an oversize fee of $75.
The reason Alaska Airlines is ranked lower than Spirit Airlines with a $100 fee is that you will also be charged the regular checked baggage fee of $25-$75, depending on how many suitcases you have with you.
One item of surfing or paddle equipment is defined as a surfboard or paddleboard case with up to two boards inside. On Alaska Airlines flights 1-999 the equipment may measure a maximum 115" (9 ft., 7 in.) in length alone. On Alaska Airlines flights 2000-2999 and 3330-3499 the maximum combined dimensions may not exceed 115" (linear). Customers checking surf or paddle boards are charged standard overweight/oversize charges.
Virgin America is the most surfer-friendly airline on the list. They charge a reasonable $50 fee for a boardbag, and allow up to 2 boards per boardbag.
Surfboards are accepted on-board Virgin America flights, and are subject to a $50 USD fee, regardless of class of service, in lieu of the appropriate checked bag fee. Additional overweight charges apply if the item exceeds 50 pounds.
One item of surfing equipment is: 2 surfboards in one board bag. The fins must be removed if not fixed. If the fins cannot be removed they must be well-padded. Acceptance of surfboards will require a limited release tag.
JetBlue also offers a reasonable fee for flying with surfboards, at $50 per boardbag. However, they made it lower on the list than Virgin America as they allow only a single board per boardbag, and may charge double if you have 2 boards in one boardbag.
JetBlue accepts your surfboard as a piece of checked baggage, upon payment of a $50 USD fee for transport.
What is accepted:
One (1) surfboard per case; size and weight restrictions do not apply, except items weighing more than 100 pounds will not be accepted as checked baggage. We recommend that surfboards travel in a hard-sided (rather than soft-sided) case to prevent damage.
Surfboards are accepted to all destinations EXCEPT to/from Bermuda, Cuba, Haiti, Peru, Port of Spain, *Santo Domingo and Santiago.
*Please note: Surfboards ARE accepted on flights to/from Puerto Plata, and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Stand-up Paddle Boards (SUP boards) on JetBlue Flights
Paddle boards and paddles are not accepted on JetBlue flights due to size constraints and difficulty of transport.
As usual, Southwest is quite reasonable when it comes to allowing sports equipment, and surfboards are no exception. Southwest charges $75 per boardbag, so you know what to expect. Standard weight limits of 23kg/50lbs per bag apply, which means you should be able to fit 2 or 3 boards in a bag without exceeding the weight limit.
The items listed below will be accepted as Checked Baggage for a $75 each way charge.
Surfboard/kiteboard, keels and fins must be removed and placed in carry-on or checked baggage.
Spirit Airlines charges a higher fee of $100 per boardbag, but allows up to 2 boards inside.
Surfboards are accepted on Spirit Airlines flights for a special charge of $100 each way (charged at the airport on the day of departure - $100 each way). A maximum of (2) two surfboards will be accepted in one case. These items will be subject to a charge whether or not presented as a single piece or the maximum of two (2) item allowance in one case. Size and weight limits are waived for surfboards.
Note: Certain destinations have bag restrictions and surfboards are not accepted on these flights, especially during peak times between December 1st and January 10th.