Friday, October 1, 2010

Bringing Your Surfboard: The Ugly Truth

Getting a new surfboard is really exciting. You have the chance to get to know the board, know the feel of it, the thickness and the balance points. You know how to take the drop, how much speed you'll get and how to carve on it. It's easy to get attached. So when its time to take a surf-trip, of course you want to bring along the board you love best.

While once-upon-a-time, all you needed was a passport and a board bag to have an international surf adventure, airlines have started to make it more and more difficult for surfers to travel with their boards. These days, oversized baggage fees, undersized planes and travel embargoes are normal roadblocks for traveling surfers run into.

Because of these things, we at Costa Rica Outward Bound don't always recommend bringing your own board on course. It often is more trouble than its worth. Plus, we have a great selection of boards from 5'4" fish to 10'6" longboards and everything in between), so if you're renting from us, you're bound to find something you'll love shredding on.

If you are set on brining your own board however, here is an excerpt from a great article from, with up-to-date information on taxes and fees for traveling with surfboards, by airline.

Aero Mexico
$65 One-way per board, maximum length 9ft – packed

Air Pacific
Varies Variable Excess Baggage Charge + $22 “Bulky Item” charge.

Air New Zealand
Free As part of your two-bag limit, otherwise $80. Max. length is 6½ ft.

$50/$75 63-80 in/81-115 in. One-way per bag.

American Airlines
$100/$150 Domestic/International. One-way per bag under 70 lbs.

EMBARGO IN EFFECT No surfboards allowed on Continental flights to Latin America from June 4, 2009 through August 20, 2009. Embargo also in force during Christmas and Easter.

800-221-1212 $175
Domestic/$300 International One-way per board.

Hawaiian Air
$100 One-way. Two boards max. per bag, Max height 11ft.

Japan Air
$50/$350 $50 for the first board. $350 a piece for others.

Jet Blue*
$50 One-way per bag. *No excess baggage (including surfboards) allowed on flights to the Santo Domingo or Santiago

Free; Cannot exceed 80 or 99 lb.

$65 One-way per bag, Max 100

$175 One-way per bag. Max 109

Free as part of your two bag limit. Otherwise $53 each way.

South African Airlines
Free As part of your two bag limit, not exceeding 109, otherwise, $125

$50/ $150 international Domestic/International. One-way per bag (2 boards per bag). No size restrictions.

$175/$250 Under 109/Over 109, One-way per bag, 2 boards per bag

Virgin Atlantic
Free, limit one per customer.

Depending on the time of year, some airlines won’t even take your surfboard — for any excess baggage charge. See the list below, and ask any airline, especially if you’re booking during peak travel times.

Excess baggage (including surfboards) is NOT accepted from June 3 through August 31 to the following cities: Guayaquil, Ecuador (GYE), Quito, Ecuador (UIO), San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL), Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL), Leon, Mexico (BJX), Zacatecas, Mexico (ZCL). Also, no bag over 50 lbs or 62 linear inches will be accepted for travel during the period.

Surfboards and Wakeboards will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed (0 pieces). Exception: Surfboards and Wakeboards will be accepted to Costa Rica during an embargo period. Continental does not accept excess baggage in the following YEAR ROUND embargoed markets: Caracas, Venezuela (CCS); Houston, Texas to Bogota, Colombia (BOG) Lima, Peru (LIM) San Salvador, El Salvador (SAL) Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI) Tortola, British Virgin Islands (EIS)

Travel to Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador
The checked baggage policy for travel from (and via) Los Angeles to Costa Rica and Guatemala effective February 18, 2005, is as follows: During the peak summer travel period of May 28-September 6, and the peak winter travel period of December 4, 2005-January 6, 2006, customers are limited to the number and size of their checked baggage. The following guidelines apply to all customers: Maximum linear dimensions: 62 linear inches/157cm (length + width + height) each. No oversize, overweight or extra bags will be accepted. (= NO SURFBOARDS) Only one box is permitted as part of a customer’s free allowance; it must be the original manufacturer’s box containing the original item.

Side note: it's not uncommon for surfers who prefer to surf their own board to purchase one when they arrive in Costa Rica. Its often more economical than paying round-trip airline fees, and frequently they are able to sell the boards before leaving the country, virtually eliminating all any expense. Should you chose this option, Costa Rica Outward Bound's local surf instructors can help you find and purchase a new or used board for your Costa Rica surf adventure.

1 comment:

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