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The Ultimate Guide to Bringing Skis And Ski Boots On A Plane


Traveling is not an exact science, to say the least. Some journeys might be smooth and uneventful from start to finish, even if you don’t prepare for them too well.

On the other hand, some travels might be frustrating, discouraging, and downright horrific due to circumstances completely outside everyone’s control.

For the most part, though, it’s probably safe to say that preparing for your trip is a logical step. If you’re a passionate or professional skier, chances are that you have your own beloved skiing equipment for your endeavors.

However, what if you have to take them on a plane to those gorgeous snow-covered slopes?

When you have an uncommon sort of luggage, all kinds of worries could take over your mind.

Will the airlines even allow me to take all this stuff on board?

Will I have to pay a hefty fee for getting my precious equipment on the plane?

Will this even be allowed to pass through into the airport?

Will I have to carry it all myself?

If you have similar questions and more, this post might be able to lend a hand. Read on to find out just how you can get all your gear to that awesome ski resort, or whether you should even try:

Flying With Skis, Snowboards, and Ski Boots

If you’re a lover of snow sports, you’ve probably invested a lot in that large equipment required for traversing the frozen slopes. Skis, snowboard, and huge, hefty ski boots are just the beginning here.

Luckily, many airlines will allow you to check in your ski bag as a normal piece of luggage. Having a specific bag for the purpose of carrying your equipment is a good idea for this very reason.

Airlines and airline staff are likely to go easier on you when you have your stuff packaged in a recognizable fashion. Wrapping your skis up in black garbage bags would probably make them even more suspicious, so give them a break and invest in the proper bags!

Even with the ski-specific bags, you might have to follow some rules. Find out what these are beforehand, and you’re likely to have a smooth-sailing journey.

Bringing ski boots as a carry-on

Your chosen airline might check in a ski bag or even one that holds a snowboard, but the boot bag could be a different story. If you already have a specific bag for the boots, some airlines might be kind enough to include it with the skis and count them both as one piece.

Still, all experienced skiers might have qualms about checking in their ski boots as part of their booked luggage. This is because replacement ski boots are extremely hard to find if your baggage gets lost.

Ski boards, poles, and snowboards might be rented out, but finding a decent pair of snow boots is very difficult. Some skiers might even have ski boots especially customized for their feet, which makes them extra precious in their eyes.

These are the reasons why many skiers will prefer to bring their ski boots with them as part of their carry-on luggage. You can use Velcro to snap the straps together or tie the laces of both pieces in a firm knot. Throw the boots over your shoulder, and you’re good to go.

Make sure you don’t leave the boots on top of your backpack or on your shoulder while looking for your seat on the plane. They can hit the passengers who are already seated or those behind you! Stay responsible and keep others safe by holding the boots while in a crowded area.

If the boots come within the weight limit for your carry-on luggage, you could easily have them with you on the plane. Whether they’d fit in the overhead compartment or not depends on the size of the plane and the space available.

You can also ask the airplane staff to store your boots in the front of the plane or ask for a seat at the front while getting your boarding pass. This way, you’ll have ample leg room to keep your valuable ski boots with you at all times.

Overweight baggage charges

More often than not, the awkward shape of your skis or ski boots wouldn’t be an issue when checking them in as airplane baggage. The main issue would be the weight.

If you’re traveling on a basic fare that allows only hand baggage or have just one piece for your baggage allowance, the weight will definitely matter. You’ll probably have to pay some fees for that extra weight. British Airways, for instance, only allows about 23 kilograms for the one-piece fare. Anything above that will incur a fee.

However, most airlines will also allow you to check in the skiing equipment as long as it’s about 75 inches or 190 centimeters in length at the most. Again, make sure the equipment is packed in a recognizable ski bag. The ski poles should be packed with the skis, while it’s best if the boots are packed separately.

Tips on flying with ski equipment

packing for flying with skis and boots

If you want to lug your skiing equipment to the slopes, there are some steps you can take to make your journey easier. Getting on the plane is the first major obstacle; if you can manage that, you’re definitely going to pull through.

There are some tips you should follow in order to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Check them out below:

Check with carriers

If you’re going on a long journey or taking a connecting flight, you might have to deal with several airlines and/or carriers. If this is the case, make sure to check their policies beforehand.

Granted, this might be a hassle, but it’s best to get it done within the comfort of your home. Compared with the frustration and problems you might face at the airport, this is a small price to pay.

There might be online charts where you can quickly reference each airline and carrier for their policy on such luggage. However, this information might be outdated, so it’s always best to call or message beforehand.

This is actually quite easy to do once you set your mind to it. We have several communication channels for contacting companies now, including phone calls, emails, and social media.

In any event, make sure you have some proof of your information in case some disgruntled staff decides to make any trouble. A recording, screenshot, or saved email will give you the upper hand if you have to fight for your skiing rights.

Packing like a professional

If you’re going to start packing up your ski equipment, make sure the ski bag isn’t just recognizable but also the appropriate size. You might also have to decide between a wheeled or non-wheeled bag.

The non-wheeled option might be a bit cheaper and give you a good workout. Still, we’d always go for the wheels for the sheer convenience factor. This will help you cruise comfortably along those huge airport terminals, parking lots, and other places.

Of course, weight is always a factor to keep in mind when traveling. You might be feeling fresh and strong now, but traveling can sap the energy out of the heartiest youngsters! After a long flight, you’ll be glad to have a wheeled bag that can move with just a little effort.

In all cases, you don’t want to choose a heavy material for your bags. You’ll already be stretching the baggage limit in most cases, so go for lightweight options that won’t add up the weight.

Packing for safety

Many times, properly packing the same amount of stuff can actually make them more compact. In fact, you might even be able to eliminate certain items if you sort through everything properly.

For instance, you can take off the bindings from your skis before packing them for air travel. This will lighten up the ski bags, and the bindings can always be packed into your regular luggage or even your carry-on backpack.

Another trick here is to pack up your ski clothing inside the bag that holds your boots. This is especially handy if you’re getting charged for the boot bag as a separate piece of luggage in any case.

Still, packing anything else in your boot bag might actually backfire, as some airline policies will count the boot bag as part of your ski bag if it contains just the boots. Again, you want to call ahead and find out the policy in order to make the best decisions.

Bringing your boots on board is not just better for the safety of this piece of equipment, but also a way to lighten your checked-in baggage.

When packing your ski poles, make sure you cover the tips, which might otherwise tear the packing/bag and possibly hurt someone. If you don’t have the proper tip covers, some foam insulation will do just as well. Wrap this around the tip and tie it firmly in place using rubber bands or string.

Giving information

The ski equipment is precious, so take every precaution to avoid it getting lost or mixed up. Attach a large luggage tag to the bags, putting down your name and contact information.

If you’re fine with writing on your bag, this might be a better option as luggage tags can get ripped off in certain circumstances.

The same information (for instance, name, contact number, home address, and email address) should also be on a piece of paper inside the ski bag. This way, anyone who opens the bag to check the contents will know who it belongs to. You may also use a business card in a pinch!

Taking pictures

Once your luggage is all packed and set, it might be a good idea to take a picture of it in the case of any damage or loss. You might also want to make sure your face is in the picture, along with a time stamp.

This precaution might seem a bit much, but it could really come in handy if you want to claim compensation from the airline.

Adding on time

We all know the rule of arriving at the airport at least an hour or so before our scheduled flight. In the case of international flights, this time period expands. If you have to check in something like ski equipment, take on another 15 minutes to that buffer zone.

Taking advantage of the ‘frequent flier’ opportunity

If you love traveling to a certain ski resort or station every now and then, try to book all your travels with the same airline company each time. This will hopefully get you enough frequent flier miles for flying easily every year.

The miles might also include an allowance for free checked bags. This means your skiing equipment might fly for absolutely free with no hassle included.

Moving the skis

You might mane to get your skis and the boots to the plane, but what about getting them to the airport in the first place? You also have to consider the fact that the equipment needs to get from the airport to your hotel, resort, or home.

If you can’t get a large enough car to stow those skis on the way to and from the airport, you may get one with a roof box or ski rack on top. Some small buses might also have this option.

Renting options

Speaking of renting, you might want to consider just bringing your boots and leaving the skis behind. Your resort or skiing school is likely to rent out skiing equipment of all kinds.

You can also consider companies that let you order skis and snowboards online. They’ll then ship the selected gear to your hotel or resort.

If you don’t want to buy any additional equipment, you might want to consider getting the skis couriered over to the resort while you travel separately. This will allow you to travel as light as possible.

In fact, choosing your skis after you get to the slopes might actually be the best idea. The conditions there might change, so you may require a different shape and design for your skis.

Renting isn’t just limited to skis, but also includes your outerwear. This way, you can also do away with those heavy coats, gloves, and trousers that could weigh you down at the airport.

Sending it on

If you’re going to use courier services to ship your equipment separate from your air travels, it’s best to send it on beforehand. This way, you can pack the equipment yourself in the most convenient and safest manner, plus you can take the precautionary pictures as mentioned above.

This also means that your gear will arrive at the slopes before you do. This is a convenience factor, as you don’t have to cart those heavy skis all the way from the airport.

So, what do different airlines have to say about bringing skis and ski boots on plane?

ski bag on a plane

Before you pack up your skis and head to the airport, you should know a bit about the different airline policies. This will allow you to decide upon the best path; whether to check your equipment as baggage or send it on separately.

We’ll be taking a look at how the different major airlines view ski equipment and how they charge for taking it on board:

Air Canada

This airline counts ski equipment as one piece of luggage within your regular baggage allowance. A single boot bag will be permitted and is even counted as part of the ski equipment as long as it carries just the boots.

An added bonus here is that you won’t be charged extra for checking in your skis or even a snowboard when traveling from Canada to Europe or vice versa. The same also goes for Canada and Africa or the Middle East.

If you carry several sets of skis inside the same container, you’ll only be counted as having one piece of baggage checking in. You do, however, have to make sure that both the skis and their poles are packed inside a hard, rigid shell case that’s specifically designed to ship such equipment.

If you carry the poles separately, they’ll have to count as a separate piece of baggage altogether. Fortunately, there are no oversize charges for long skis or snowboards. However, there could be an overweight charge for skis.

Air France

Skiing equipment counts as a standard baggage item for this airline, so you can check it in for free if there’s no other large piece. If you’re traveling on a Light or Basic Fare ticket, though, the skis might cost you extra.

For Business class and La Première cabins, you might have two pieces of baggage allowed per person. This will allow you to check in a suitcase as well as your ski equipment.

If you want to check in an extra bag, you might have to pay some fees according to your route. A little tip here, though; the fee would probably go down by about 20% if you book the extra bag online.

The package here should have one pair of skis, one pair of skiing poles, and a pair of ski boots. All these items should be in a case that isn’t any longer than 118 inches or 300 centimeters.

You can also pack your snowboarding or ski boots separately in their own bag. They will count as a standard baggage item, but will probably incur no extra charges.

Alaska Airlines

This airline counts ski equipment as a piece of luggage that takes up your baggage allowance. If the case is more than 115 inches in length or weighs more than 50 pounds, you’ll have to pay an oversize and overweight fee respectively.

The equipment bag could be tied in with another bag that contains just the boots or the helmet. However, if you also put your clothing inside the boot bag, you’ll have to pay the standard baggage fees for that checked luggage.

Allegiant Air

With this discount airline, you can have a checked bag with all your ski equipment included. The applicable fees will come in if your bag weighs more than 40 pounds or goes beyond the 80-inch limit.

Just make sure no bag weights more than 100 pounds, or it won’t be accepted at all. Just one pair of skis, with the poles and boots, is to be encased in the right kind of container. This is counted as a single piece of your equipment.

Delta Air Lines

This major American airline applies no additional fees on booking a piece of ski equipment. You can book the skis as a piece of baggage within your allowance. If the combined weight is more than 50 pounds, you’ll have to pay an overnight fee.

The linear dimensions also counted here, as anything above 80 inches or 203 centimeters will cause you to pay excess size fees.

Overall, the rules for most airlines are the same, especially when we’re talking about American airlines. Other names with similar policies as we’ve discussed above are JetBlue, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines.

Keep in mind, though, that the policies of certain airlines might have changed in the past few months, weeks, or even days. This is why you need to corroborate the information here with the staff online or through a phone call.

Still, the policy information above is quite heartening, as you can see that ski equipment is definitely allowed. There should be no question of the equipment not traveling with you.

To finish up, we’ll give you a few additional tips that could make your trips with ski equipment easier:

Consider a double ski bag

Many companies provide a double ski bag, which has several amazing benefits. This will allow you to fit a friend’s skis and poles inside as well, freeing up the baggage allowance for one of you at least.

Even if you’re traveling along, a double bag will be great for bringing skis meant for backcountry or resort use. You probably won’t have to pay extra for bringing both these setups.

The double bag will also come in handy for packing your boots, helmet, or just some soft items for an extra layering effect. This will hopefully free up space in the rest of your luggage.

The maximum amount

Even if you do end up paying a fee for your ski equipment, make sure it’s not about $25 either way. Many travelers who are also skiers have managed to stay moving and never paying more than this amount no matter where they went.

At the most, your ski bag will be a 22-liter or a burly 35-liter container. Most airlines will simply let you carry this on board.

It helps if you’re a light packer, as you can then add some clothes and toiletries to the pack as well. Having a small wheeled carry-on is also a good idea for your regular everyday clothing. This will allow you to check in all the ski gear and rest easy on the plane.

The small additions

There are also some tiny additions that you should have while traveling with ski equipment, especially if you want to check it in.

A small towel is one of these, in case you have to pack your skis after a powder day. This means that the skis are most likely wet, so you want to dry them before packing. Wet skis are not just bad for the equipment, but they could also make the airport staff less inclined to give you an easy time.

Ski straps are another small yet essential addition. These will keep the skis together even if there’s a lot of jostling or rough handling. They’ll also save the bases.

Rough handling is almost a given in air travel, so you might want to get some straps with foam padding to be on the safe side. If you only have a rubber strap, use a baselayer or some socks at the touching point of your bases.

Be polite

A final word of advice: remember your manners at all times. This might have nothing to do with your ski equipment, but everything to do with getting it on the plane.

Airline employees are often harried and stressed as it is, so be extra nice to them. You might be stressed out yourself, especially with that gigantic equipment in tow, but a few kind words can get you in their good books.

So meet their eyes, ask them how they are, and be understanding at all events. They might even waive the charges for your extra luggage if you’re lucky!

Wrapping up: Let’s go skiing!

When you’re taking your ski equipment on the plane with you, the journey can be quite a challenge. Still, you’d have to forge on through, and will hopefully make it to the other side with all gear in tow.

You could be a first-timer who just wants the equipment they’re comfortable with or a professional seasoned skier who wants to stick with the very best. Whatever the case, you deserve to have your own stuff on the slopes.

Follow the tips above, and take heart from the fact that many airlines do have room in their hearts for your equipment. Pretty soon, you’ll be carting your skiing stuff all over the globe without a second thought!

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