Spending a ridiculous amount of money on surfboard bag fees isn’t a great feeling. Most traveling surfers have probably had this painstaking thought at least once in their life: “What?! It’s going to cost me $300+ to get my boards there and back! I could buy a new board for that!”
The bad news: board bag fees are hard to avoid when traveling with surfboards.
The good news: we’ve researched and sorted through the board bag fees of over 35 airlines to help you keep as much money in your pocket as possible.
In an effort to combat the most annoying part of surf travel planning, we’ve conveniently organized and color-coded airlines into three sections based on their board bag fees: Best, Tolerable, and Worst. This way, you can review the best and the worst airlines for surf travel and factor that into your surf trip equation before you book your flights.
In the case of surfboard bag fees, it pays to do your research. Airlines are always randomly changing their policies, so in addition to reviewing this list, always be sure to call the airline and confirm their latest fees. One time we had confirmed reasonable board bag fees on an airline’s website, only to learn when we checked in that they supposedly had a fee change and hadn’t updated their website yet with their new #$@&%*! astronomical fees. It was criminal (*cough* Fiji Airways).
It’s also good to note that some airlines give you a discount if you pre-pay the baggage charge before you get to the airport.
Hopefully, this guide will help you avoid overspending on surfboard bag fees so you can spend that money on better things for your surf trip, like a new surfboard.
*NOTE: Most airlines’ sporting equipment guidelines are overly complicated, confusing, and downright terrible. We’ve included a link in the details section of each airline that will take you directly to their excess baggage details so you can read the small print. We always recommend you double-check the information below, and also call in and confirm with the airline directly.
It’s also good to note that airlines frequently change policies. We’ll try to keep this list as updated as possible, but always check the website and call to confirm. For example, Virgin Atlantic used to have one of the best policies, and they recently changed their policy entirely for the worse. Bummer.
ON LINEAR INCHES: We can’t stress this enough. If an airline claims to accept surfboards up to 118 linear inches and 99 lbs, you might think to yourself, “linear inches” that sounds like a straight line, right? So I should be good to travel with a 9’8″ surfboard bag. NOT THE CASE. Linear inches is the sum of length x width x height, so you always should triple crunch the numbers, and perhaps even call to confirm the specifics with the airline directly. 118 linear inches, which is 9’8″ inches in a straight line, is actually only 6’5″ long if say your surfboard bag is say 79 x 24 x 12, which would be pretty common dimensions for a fully packed shortboard bag. That said, you might find that some airline employees could care less about these rules (which is why some people who maybe didn’t know how linear inches work can get lucky) while most employees are hardcore rule enforcers with zero flexibility, in which case your surfboards will be denied.
BEST SURFBOARD BAG FEES
|Free / ~$100||Free and may count as checked baggage to and from North America if under 50 lbs and 9’0″. No charge if you’re in Business Class. One board per passenger. Normal excess baggage rates apply if you carry in excess to this maximum allowance. On Aer Lingus regional flights, the length allowance is only 6’5″. Additional details on Aer Lingus surfboard bag fees.|
|Most flights will run about $18 if you book online||Per bag one way. Your surfboard must be packed in a recognized surfboard bag and does not exceed 277 cm /109 inches ( about 9’2″) in length.
Note: Kiteboards and bodyboards are classified as surfboards. Additional details on Air Asia surfboard bag fees.
|Free / Varies||Emirates will accept sporting equipment as checked baggage and part of your standard baggage allowance. Baggage allowance is 2 pieces. Economy Maximum Dimensions (length + width + height) cannot exceed 118 inches (300 cm) . The maximum baggage weight for Economy Class Passengers is 50 lb/23 kg. Additional details on Air Emirates surfboard bag fees.|
|Air Tahiti Nui
|Free||Air Tahiti Nui allows one free sports equipment item on its operated flights in addition to your normal free checked baggage. All depending on the cabin of travel, frequent flyer status, weight, and dimensions of luggage. Additional details on Air Tahiti Nui surfboard baggage fees.|
|Air New Zealand
|Free / ~$150||No charge if less than 6′ 5″ in length and less than 50 pounds. Can have multiple boards as long as bag stays within stated weight and dimension limits. Sporting items exceeding 6.5 feet but less than 8.2 feet in length may still be accepted but are subject to oversized item charges. Maximum weight restriction of 70 pounds per item. Overweight charges for US travel are about $150. More details on Air New Zealand surfboard bag fees.|
|$30 – $40||Each way. Alaska Airlines has one of the best policies for surfboard bags. Alaska charges surfboard bags the same fee as normal checked baggage, provided each piece is properly packed in a case designed specifically for the equipment. They also waive the oversize and overweight fees for surfboard bags. If your travel includes multiple airlines, different restrictions may apply. One surfboard bag is defined as one case with up to two boards inside. Flights on a 737 or Airbus aircraft the equipment may measure a maximum 115″ (9 ft., 7 in.) in length alone. For flights 2000-2999 and 3330-3499 the maximum combined dimensions may not exceed 115″ (linear inches = length + width + height). Additional details on Alaska Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $75-$150||Treated as a checked bag (first bag is free). Each checked bag must not exceed 62 inches (157.48 cm) in dimensions (length + breadth + height) & 50 pounds (22.73 kilos) in weight. Bags greater than 50 lbs (23 kilos) & 62 inches will run from $75-$150 depending on length and weight. Bags greater than 100 lbs are not accepted. Additional information on Bahamas Air surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $60||Accepts surfboards as checked baggage providing they do not exceed the maximum weight restrictions for checked baggage and are packed in a recognized bag or case to safeguard against damage. The bag containing the board can be up to a maximum size of 190cm x 75cm x 65cm (75in x 29.5in x 25.5in). Bags weighing more than 23kg (51lb) may incur a heavy bag charge of about $60. Additional details on British Airways surfboard bag fees.|
|Free||Included as part of your baggage allowance. You can have up to 3 separate bags of less than 25 kg each or a single bag up to 75 kg. Max weight total (for all luggage) per passenger is 75 kg or 165 lbs. Additional details on Interjet Mexico surfboard bag fees.|
|Korean Air *
|Free / $75-$200||Included as checked baggage. Must be under 50 lbs and/or 9’0″ and you should not incur an oversize fee. If you’re over your bag limit, it’s $200 from the Americas (to Brazil from US is $75; to Brazil from Asia is $175). ***Exception (when traveling with domestic flights) : If the surfboard is over 158cm (62inch), an oversize fee will be incurred of $75-$200. Additional details on Korean Air surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $60-$195||Free, as part of your checked allowance. Cannot exceed 118 linear inches (length x width x height) or 50 lbs. If beyond your baggage allowance, excess baggage fees depend on departure/destination and range from $60-$195. Additional details on LAN surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $92-$460||Included as part of your baggage allowance depending on the service class. Must be less than 70 lbs and/or 6’5″. If you exceed your allowance or it’s not included in your service class, for boards up to 200cm (6’5”): $92 for routes within Europe, and $172 – $287 for shorter to longer intercontinental flights (each way). For boards between 200 – 315 cm (6’5” – 10’3”): $149 for routes within Europe, and $287 – $460 for shorter to longer intercontinental flights (each way). You need to register sports baggage at least 24 hours before the flight. Additional details on Lufthansa excess baggage fees and surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $15-$140||As part of your checked baggage allowance, and will be subject to excess baggage charges if overweight. One board per person. Max length is 8′. If it is in excess of your allowance, there is a zone-based weight system in which fees vary from $15-$140 per 6.5 lbs depending on location. Additional details on Malaysia Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|Free – $135||Free as part of your checked baggage. Must be in a bag and may not exceed 70 lbs and 9 ft. If it’s beyond your baggage allowance, excess fees apply depending on place of departure/destination. Between Australia and Americas is $135. Additional details on Qantas surfboard bag fees.|
+ 44 871 246 0002
|€50 online / €60 at the airport||Large sports equipment (does not define any dimension restrictions on web). Fee charged per item per one way flight. Maximum weight of 20 kg. Additional details on RyanAir surfboard bag fees.|
|Free / $150-$225||As part of your checked bag allowance. After that, additional baggage is either $150 or $225 depending on destination. Only one board per person. Any item above 32 kg (70 lbs) will not be accepted as checked baggage and may have to be re-packed or sent as cargo. each item should not exceed 200cm x 75cm x 80cm in dimension. Excess baggage charges apply if the dimensions of your baggage exceed the dimensions of your baggage allowance. Additional details on Singapore Air surfboard bag fees.|
|South African Airways
|Free / Varies||Only one board and it must not exceed 7’2” (200 cm) and 50 lbs. Larger boards must go as cargo. If larger than 200 cm, the bag is to be accepted strictly as cargo, relevant cargo rates will apply. Additional details on South African Airways surfboard bag fees.|
TOLERABLE SURFBOARD BAG FEES
|$75-$150||One-way within Mexico $75 USD. International flight $150. Fee is per case; up to 3 boards per case. Max length on a narrow-body cabin is 6’6″. Max length on a wide-body cabin is 9’5″. Max wight is 100 lbs. Additional detail on Aero Mexico surfboard bag fees.|
|$118||Surfboards are subject to a $100.00 – $118.00 CA/US handling fee (plus applicable taxes). The fee is charged for one-way flights and for each way of travel on round-trip and multi-segment flights. Board counts as one piece of baggage towards the maximum number checked baggage for your fare type. The maximum length is 292 cm (115 in), and the maximum width is 60 cm (24 in). Boards are accepted as checked baggage on a space-available basis only so call ahead. Additional details on Air Canada surfboard bag fees.|
|$55-$150||Each way. Surfboards great than 3’5″ and less than 6’5″ in dimensions will now be charged as a “specialty” item, the same charges as applicable for surfboards greater than 6’5″ will apply. Customers will no longer be able to check-in surfboards as part of their ticketed baggage allowance. Board less than 3’5″ in dimensions can continue to be checked in as a “normal” bag i.e. part of the ticketed baggage allowance. Additional details on Air France surfboard bag fees.|
|$50-$125||You can check the first bag (paying the respective fee) as part of your baggage and take a maximum of three boards in one bag per passenger with a maximum weight of 32 kg (70 lbs.) and up to 3.7 meters (12 feet) long. Do yourself a favor and check out all of the rules, restriction and details before booking your flight. Additional details on Avianca surfboard bag fees.|
|$45-$60||Under 45 lbs is $45 when booking online or $55 at the airport. Up to 70 lbs is $50 online or $60 at the airport. Per item, per flight. If it’s over 70 lbs, there will be additional charges. Additional details on EasyJet sports equipment policies and a separate page showing their fees and charges.|
|$35-$150||Fees are one-way, per bag. As many boards as you want per bag. Max height 9’5″ (for travel within Hawaii board can be 10’9″) and max weight of 50 lbs. $35 per way between Hawaiian islands, $100 per way between North America and Hawaii, $150 per way for most international flights. For flights between the USA and Australia/New Zealand, boards will be included in the free baggage allowance when travel is non-stop, direct and/or connecting service. Just be prepared to pull Hawaiian Airlines surfboard bag fees up on your smartphone in case they give you any grief.|
|$100||Per board each way, domestic and international. One surfboard per case; size and weight restrictions do not apply. Items weighing more than 100 pounds will not be accepted as checked baggage. No surfboards allowed on flights to/from Bermuda, Haiti, Peru, Port of Spain, Santo Domingo and Santiago. Additional details on Jet Blue surfboard bag fees.|
|$75||Part of checked baggage. Each way, per bag. Fins must be removed. Additional details on Southwest Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|$50-150||Each way. Up to 6’5″ will run about $50 for Domestic flights, Europe, Morocco, and Algeria; $100 for International. If the board is over 6’5″ it’ll be $100 for Domestic flights, Europe, Morocco, and Algeria or $150 for International. Must be under 70 lbs. When you get to the airport, go to the check-in desk to fill out a Declaration of Transport form. Without this document or with inadequately packed equipment, TAP may refuse your surfboards. Additional details on Tap Portugal surfboard bag fees.|
WORST SURFBOARD BAG FEES
|$150||You’ll be charged $150. Multiple boards per bag is okay as long as bag is less than 70 lbs. If the board bag is less than 62 inches and 50lbs., you’ll be charged the applicable checked bag fee based on the number of bags you check. For Brazil only: Maximum surfboard length of 108 in., not included in checked bag allowances. First surfboard charge is $42.50; additional surfboards are $85.00. Additional details on American Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|$150+||Based on measurements and fees increase based on the thickness of your bag. Can cost you four times the oversize bag fee of $150. Adding up to potentially $600 or more each way. They may ask for your first born child too. Not a surfer friendly airline. Additional details on Cathy Pacific surfboard bag fees.|
|Varies||Additional details on China Air surfboard bag fees. Call ahead. See comments section below for more insights from a fellow surf traveler. Dawson B. commented, “China Air charged me $150 per bag the first time and $150 per board the return”|
|$150||As of Aug 2018, large sports equipment will be transported on international and domestic flights for a fee of USD150.00, regardless of whether it is part of the passenger’s luggage allowance. These items will not be subject to overweight or oversize luggage fees. The maximum weight allowed is 100 pounds (45 kilograms), and the maximum size allowed is 115 linear inches (294 linear centimeters: length x width x height). Passengers MUST make reservations for their board bags when they purchase their ticket or at least 48 hours before their flight and Copa only allows 3-4 board bags per flight (depending on the aircraft). Additional details on Copa’s special baggage allowance can be found here.|
|$100-$200||Two boards allowed per bag. Over 70 lbs come with an excess bag fee. Surfboards over 9′ 5″ are not allowed. $150 for travel to most all regions. $100 to and from Brazil. Additional details on Delta Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|$150||Each way, one board per bag. No longer than 8’2″. Must give advance notice and call in the request 24 hours before flight. Different charges, taxes or fees may apply, depending on the laws of each country. Additional details on Iberia surfboard bag fees.|
|$150||Merged with American Airlines. Additional details on American Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|$200||Per bag, two boards allowed. Call ahead . Domestic flights run $50. If flying to Asia, Guam and Oceania from Japan it’s $100. For Asia, India and Oceania to and from Hawaii, North/Central/South America, Europe, Middle East and Africa it’s $200. Additional details on Japan Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|$150||Thai Airways might take the cake now for having one of the most complicated and convoluted surfboard bag fee descriptions. One of our readers told us as of March 2018, they’re charging $150 USD per board! Ouch. The painful details are here on Thai Airways.|
|$150-$200||$150 each way between the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and $200 each way for all other travel. Max of 99 lbs. & 115 linear inches (length x width x height) which is only about a 6’5″ surfboard bag assuming the bag is 79 x 24 x 12 total, only 80 linear inches on Express Flights. Multiple boards allowed, remove fins and pad well. Additional details on United Airlines surfboard bag fees.|
|Does not accept bags over 190cm (6’3″) in length!||Free to bring your surfboard bag as part of your baggage allowance, but there are recent major changes to size restrictions. The baggage allowance only applies if your surfboards don’t exceed 23 kg (50 lbs) in weight and 190 cm (about 6’2”) in length. Additional details on Virgin Atlantic surfboard bag fees.|
48 thoughts on “Surfboard Bag Fees 2022 / The Best and Worst Airlines for Surf Travel”
Wondering if you can provide me some input on your experience with Fiji Airways? I am trying to figure out how much it will cost me to take one board with a total dimension (L + W + H) of 108 inches, which is one inch under their limit. I am also interested in what it might cost to exceed that limit and have to have it go through freight? It seems like it’s all over the place regarding their fees and restrictions. I have tied calling and emailing and each person I talk with has a different answer.
Should have clarified that this is for travel between Los Angeles and Nadi.
Hi Client, according to their baggage policy you should be good under 109 linear inches. We found that the Fiji Air employees who were operating based in Fiji were super laid back and didn’t seem to care because according to their policy our 7’6″ wouldn’t be allowed at around 126 linear inches, wouldn’t have made the cut. We got hooked up with waived fees while in Fiji where they didn’t even charge us any fees only to get screwed by Fiji flying out of Samoa or NZ, I forget, but they charged us an arm and a leg and way more than advertised on their site. So it just depends who you are dealing with I think. And you’re right, talk with 5 different people and you’ll get 5 different answers. No fun to navigate at times.
Great information and advice, thank you very much
Glad you found it helpful! You’re welcome. Cheers
Please bring the prices down
Just left on a trip to the Mentawai Islands. United Airlines turn our bags away at the gate saying they all too big. We had two bags. One had an 8.6 and a 9.0, the other bag had two boards around 6.8. We were confident we were under the 115″ limit. I researched many surf websites like this. We learned the hard way that they measure in linear feet. That’s Height+Width+ Length. If a board bag is 34″ wide and with two boards another 6″, the board bag height must be 5’5″ according to United. Needless to say, it was extremely frustration and is having a major impact on our trip. That’s 5 surfers that don’t have their boards and they don’t rent in Mentawai. We are working on plan B in realtime. Writing from the plane. I couldn’t cancel the trip because it was all prepaid.
Hi Clay, I just reviewed our article and saw we mentioned linear inches is length x width x height in a couple of spots, where the airlines probably specified that on their website, but unfortunately we did not mention that with United. I just updated the article to call attention to the linear inches issue and to clarify that for future travelers.
In our personal experience with United, we have taken domestic and international flights with them when we were traveling with an 8’6″ surfboard bag with two boards which is well over the 118 linear inches mark fully packed, and they accepted our bags, perhaps we just got lucky with the people at check-in. Seems like it can be hit and miss depending on who you get sometimes.
At any rate, I realize none of the above updates and comments helps you in your current situation, and I’d like to try to help in any way I can. I’ve just emailed you directly. Cheers
That really sucks I would not ver fly an airline that does not accept surfboards because one time I went to Costa rica 7 years ago that this one airline nature air, They did not accept my surfboard going from San Jose to Liberia and one other time in Floriday going Miami to Jacksonville on Amtrak they almost would not accept my surfboards at all.
TAP has a nice option Free of charge if we meet certain conditions.
I personally carried my 7″ 2-board bag free of charge.
“Sports equipment can be carried free of charge as hold baggage, provided that it does not exceed the maximum weight (23kg in Economy Class and 32kg in Executive Class) and the maximum size (combined height + length + width of 158cm)”
I must add that I had included the check-in 23kg bag, instead i checkd-in my surfboard bag
Awesome, thanks for sharing!
Qatar Airways is by far the worst!! Only flights leaving Sydney during the pandemic and wanted to charge me $2500 for my 7ft bag to Europe one way.. This is just excess baggage cost not including ticket!
Thanks for sharing your personal experience with, Qatar. That’s insane!
Philippine Airlines charge me 175 dollars per board in Honolulu, 700 total for four surfboards. Crazy unbelievable
If you book 2 bags ahead of time on Iberia with an upgraded economy ticket ($40-50 more) they let it count as your surfboard bag. While United has a terrible surfboard policy for economy class, sometimes the business class upgrade is only $200 more and in business class they let surfboards fly free. Last year I flew business class on United to El Salvador with 4 surfboards (60 lbs) and my dad brought his 9’0 standup paddle board and neither of us were charged.
Thanks for sharing your insights and experience!
Just checked a 6’ bag in Copa from GYE > LAX for $33. Website said $150 and I was prepared to pay.
That’s awesome, thanks for sharing. The Copa site still says $150 USD per surfboard bag for international flights and $50 USD for domestic flights. We’ve found plenty of inconsistency with surfboard bag fees when traveling (sometimes to our favor, and other times not) and heard all kinds of different stories from airline agents for bag fee inconsistencies: “the website hasn’t been updated with the new fees yet”, etc. It seems sometimes that different airports will have different fees, or sometimes you just get lucky with the check-in agent. It’s baffling how complicated airlines make it to find out the true and final fee for surfboard bags! Sounds like you scored. Cheers
Thank you for this article! The details about surfboard bag fees are really helpful. Cheers
Emirates allows 118 inch linear dimension max for Economy. Text above says 62 inch max.
Thank you for your work building the list!
Thanks for your feedback, Rob! We double-checked with Emirates baggage policies and you’re absolutely right. We updated the post with the accurate dimensions. Cheers
Ethiopia claims $200 for:
Surf boarding Equipment (a board (up to 3m)) but $100 for Waveboard (a board, a set of body protection (knee, arms, etc.), a helmet)
Anyone flown with them?
jet blue just went up to $150 + $30 for anything over 80″. That’s 6’8″, and that’s a bag OVER a shortboard.
Whoops!–double intel. Should have read the thread first.
Jet blue charges $100 per board each way as of 11-17-19 FYI
Thanks for the heads up Kevin! Alas, another price increase…
Lufthansa is flat fee on all bags bigger than 165 cm not 200 as it say here.
starting at 80 euro for domestic flights up to 250 euros for long long-distance flights
Hi Hans – thanks for your input. Although, it’s complicated… I just made some updates with their new policies and here is a link to Lufthansa’s pricing for surfboards (which depends on the size of board and destination).
Jet Blue is $100 each way, plus 30 checked baggage fee each way. Just got off the phone with them.
These prices all seem a little off. Going to Portugal next month on Air Canada. 100 dollars per board (one board per bag) per way + check-in baggage fee of 60 bucks . Horrible.
Yikes! Thanks for your feedback, Danny! We double-checked and made the update. We try to keep this surfboard bag fee list as updated as possible, but unfortunately, airlines frequently change their fees and policies. Cheers
Don’t mess with Copa Airlines! We had to call ahead and make a reservation on the plane for the board bags and there’s only a limited number of bags (I’m pretty sure it was 4) they take per flight. There was already one reservation already made when I had called and just our group had 3 bags. I’ve never heard of anything like this. Also, they will check inside the bag to make sure you don’t have more than 2 boards. I had a buddy sell his 3rd board to an airport employee (for very, very cheap) at Liberia because they wouldn’t let him take it home.
Thanks for your feedback, John. That sucks!
If you are heading to Southeast Asia, fly Singapore Airlines. No board fees and very good service. Get to your flight a couple of hours ahead of schedule.
Awesome Paul, thanks for your feedback!
Just called Copa about a trip coming up on August 16th. Apparently they updated their sports equipment policy on August 1st and now charge $150/each way for surfboards limited to 2/bag.
Thanks for the heads up, Marcus! We really appreciate you letting us know. We updated the article and moved them down to the tolerable section.
Hope you have an epic trip wherever you’re going!
Copa air is free now. Took them twice this year and never was charged. They also give you a free beer or wine :).
China Air charged me $150 per bag the first time and $150 per board the return :(.
Anyone know about Xiamen air? Need to fly them to Indo soon but their website is confusing.
Thanks for sharing these insights, Dawson! Very good to know about Copa hooking you up with free board bag transfers and China Air sticking it to ya. I don’t know anything about Xiamen Air, but please keep us posted if you’re able to figure out their surfboard bag fee details. Thanks again!
Thai Airways is charging 150 USD per board now…
Hey Paul, thanks for the heads up on Thai Airways. I just tried to check out their surfboard bag policy to confirm and it is such nonsense. I just can’t believe why so many airlines make it so damn complicated. Anyway, I updated their policy details in the post for the benefit of other readers and demoted them to the Worst Surfboard Bag Fees List. Thanks again.
Qantas Check-in will attach a Fragile tag to the bag and you must complete and sign the limited release portion of the baggage tag.
Singapore Air rocks! I took 3 boards from LAX to Jakarta and no fees! Compared to EVA air the previous year from LAX to Bali, and they tried to charge me $300 each way because my boardbag was 1 inch too long (and they used a tape measure to verify length!).
That’s awesome! Thanks for the recommendation. It’s always great to get first-hand feedback on airlines because they change their policies so frequently. Hooray for Singapore Air!
Thanks for posting this. There is nothing worse than booking your flight for a surf trip and not looking into surfboard bag fees before hand. I am saving this page to my bookmarks.
Awesome, Clarence. We’ll do our best to keep it current for everyone. And we always suggest double checking with the airlines directly to ensure nothing has changed and to avoid any inconvenience or unpleasant surprises. Cheers!