As thoughts turn to the new year and the evenings are still dark you can be forgiven for daydreaming about flying off to warmer, sunnier climes. Or indeed flying from elsewhere in the UK to us here in Cornwall. Cornwall is beautiful in the winter and the sea is SO much quieter!

Wherever you are choosing to go on your surf trip this winter getting your board there can be an extra headache, especially with the knowledge that budget airlines are just that, budget, and anything other than breathing will cost you money.

Then there is the worry over your baby, ahem I mean your board, as we have all heard the stories of boards arriving with dings, cracks or every surfer’s nightmare… a board snapped in two 🙁

Airline Surfboard Fees

From our desk-based research the fees involved seem to be priced at each way and have a ‘price when booking online’ and ‘price after’ which tends to be around £10 difference. As with all budget airlines, it is best to be prepared and book it all at the outset. Each airline states that this is “per piece of sporting equipment”, however, if you have a few boards in one bag then who’s to know???

Let’s start with the budget airlines that fly in the South West…. because that’s where we are!

Easyjet Surfbord Fees

Easyjet charge £45/€45 each way for your surfboard when making your flight booking online and £55/€55 each way following your flight booking or when booking at the airport. You are allowed up to 32kg and up to 275cm/9″0″ which is a good amount and enables you to stuff a load of your luggage stuff in there too. more info…

Ryanair Surfboard Fees

Ryanair charge £35/€35 for ‘Sporting Equipment’ each way when making your flight booking online and £45/€45 each way following your flight booking or booking at the airport. For ‘Large Sports Items’ you will be charge £55/€55 each way when booking or£65/€65 each after booking or at the airport. Ryanair are unclear what defines ‘Sporting Equipment’ and ‘Large Sporting Item. Our suggestion would be to book your surfboards under ‘Sporting Equipment’ and do this online then smile brightly when checking your board in. Keep in mind that what ever surfboards you are booking in you are only allowed up to 20kg. Any sporting item over the 20kg allowance will be charged at £9/€9 per kg when booking and£11/€11 per kg after booking or when at the airport. more info…

Aer lingus Surfboard Fees

Aer Lingus charge £40/€40 each way for your surfboard when making your flight booking online and £40/€50 each way following your flight booking or when booking at the airport. Interestingly, if you book Business Class then there is no charge for your surfboards! You are allowed up to 23kg and only allowed boards up to 2.4 meters (2.05 on regional flights) which means (according to their website) you may struggle with any any boards over 6’7″. More info… Surfboard Fees charge £35/€35 each way for your surfboards at the point of booking and more at the airport. were not able to confirm how much more and there is little info on the website referencing surfboards. You are allowed up to 22kg but any limit on dimensions are not available on their website. However, the lady in the call centre seemed very friendly so you might want to slip that in their when challenged More info…

Tui Surfboard Fees

Tui charge £30/€35 each way for your surfboards. You are not able to book this online so they said it would be best to do this by phone. You do get a whopping 4 meters of surfboard to carry so that should cover you. We will say that Tui have improved their policy for carrying surfboards since we first wrote this blog… free holiday Tui?

Loganair Surfboard Fees

It used to be that Loganair would not accept surfboards on any kind of its aircraft. Things have changed slightly and it now accepts some surfboards on some of it’s planes for the bargain price of £20 each way so those Scottish reefs are no longer safe. Unfortunately, it is only available on it’s Embraer 145 and it’s ATR42/AT72 planes and for surfboards up to 170cm in length which equates to about 5’5″. so kids, grovellers and vertically challenged will be the only ones that benefit.

Popular UK Airline Surfboard Fees

We have listed a few of the top airlines that fly internationally out of the UK. These airlines may have other rules when flying to and from different countries so please check with the airline directly for specific information about your flight.

British Airways (BA) Surfboard Fees

British Airways (aka BA) allow all surfboards up to 190cm/6′ 2″ to be booked on as part of your normal luggage. Normal luggage for Economy Class is 1 x bag up to 23kg but if you travel Premium Economy then you can have 2 x bags up to 23kg each. If you fancy splashing out on First Class then you can have 3 x bags up to 32kg each… oh how the other half live. If you go over the 23kg then you can pay the extra baggage allowance of £65/€75 each way paid by card only but you are not allowed to go over 32kg in weight and 190cm 6’2″ in length… So, no mid lengths, big waves boards, longboards or minimals… come on British Airways! more info….

Emirates Surfboard Fees

According to the Emirates website they state that they have ‘one of the most generous baggage allowances in the world‘ which is somewhat true. However, as they fly to many countries they have a 2 different policies known as Weight Concept and Piece Concept which are explained below:

Piece Concept refers to all travel too and from the America’s and Africa. They have several classes but lets just look at Economy Class. Baggage allowance is for 2 bags up to 23kg each and no larger than 150 cm. This is no use for most travelling surfers and so you will need to pay an additional $75 (£60/€70) each way and only payable at the airport by card for surfboards up to 300cm/9′ 8″ 

Weight Concept refers to everywhere other than the Americas’s and Africa. As well as the usual First Class, Business etc.. they have several Economy Classes all with different baggage allowances… Economy Saver gives you 25kg, Economy Flex 30kg and Economy Flex Plus gives you up to 35kg. But here is the good bit.. as long as your surfboard weight is within the weight limit for the class you have booked you can have up to 300cm/9′ 8″ at no charge! 

Virgin Atlantic Surfboard Fees

Virgin Atlantic suggest that if you are flying Economy then you will be able to take a single piece of checked baggage of no more than 23kg. If you are flying Premium then you will be able to check in 2 pieces of baggage each weighing a max of 23kg. A surfboard (or sporting item) with a max length of 190cm/6′ 2″ can count as one of these pieces of checked baggage. So, if you are flying Economy then you will need to stuff that board bag with all your clothes etc or pay the £65/$100 per flight for an extra bag. If you are flying Premium then you will be allowed to check your surfboard that are no bigger than 190cm/6′ 2″ in as one of your checked bags. If you use all of your baggage allowance with useless stuff like clothes then you will need to pay £200/$300 for an oversized bag but this still has to be under 190cm/6’2″ which for a surfer is pretty limiting. Come on Richard…. sort it out!

Qantas Surfboard Fees

Being the national airline of Australia you would expect them to have a policy that allows it’s customers to take part in it’s national sport without to much hassle…. well you’d be right! You can travel with a surfboard up to the 277cm/9’0″ in length that weighs no more than the usual 32kg. A surfboard can be checked in as part of your normal baggage allowance of which you get 30kg if you fly Economy or 40kg if you fly Premium Economy. This weight can be split over as many bags as you wish but no single piece can weigh more than 32kg. Struth… they made that easy!

Damaged Surfboards?

What happens if the airline does damage or break your child…..ahem I mean surfboard? Well, the first thing to do is to check your surfboard before you leave arrivals. Every time you fly? Yes, this will mean unpacking your board, but it is worth the 10 minutes.

The rules state “Receipt by the person entitled to delivery of checked baggage or cargo without complaint is ‘prima facie’ evidence that the same has been delivered in good condition and in accordance with the document of carriage.” Basically, if you pick it up, don’t check it and walk out of the baggage claim area or airport then you are screwed!

As with the costs to fly with a surfboard the claims procedures vary a little but they all say that you must report damaged baggage at the airport straight away and make your official claim as soon as you can as some airlines state it has to be within seven days!

It is worth knowing and maybe stating to your airline if there is an issue the Montreal Convention 1999 sets out what an airline must comply with if they damage your surfboard – Every travelling surfers’ nightmare!

More details on the Montreal Convention website

Any airline is liable for damages of goods on their airlines up to the value of £1184.59 (current at 1635 on the 12th of Dec 2019).

How to Pack Your Surfboard

So how do you ensure you don’t have to crack open the Montreal Convention in the airport? Ultimately, if you spent time packing your board really well then you should improve your chances.

Before we even start with the practical packing the three things you need to do….Firstly, check your airline policy on weight and length of sports luggage (see above). There is no point packing your surfboard like a mummy with all the bubble wrap and packaging to find it is too heavy or too long when you check-in. Secondly, check your travel insurance. Yes, you should be covered by the airline, but it is good to know you are protected just in case it is you who dings a board, or your airline gets shady. Finally, get everything in writing if you have contacted an airline to confirm the weight or length of board you can take. Print those emails and take with your boarding passes just in case you get a Mr Happy on the check-in desk.

We have created a little check list to help wrap up your precious little darlings before the baggage handlers get hold of her

  1. Work out what boards you need, no really need, you can’t afford to take all your boards financially or emotionally!
  2. Make sure your bag is fit for purpose, no rips and tears and all the zips work properly. Don’t borrow a bag that is too big for the boards you are taking.
  3. Pop to the DIY store for some duct tape, foam pipe protector and some bubble wrap.
  4. Remove all fins or pack polystyrene blocks around any fixed fins.
  5. If you are going somewhere hot, then take a leaf out of Mr Miyagi’s book and “Wax Off”. You don’t want to start the holiday with wax all over your stuff.
  6. Remove all leashes – you’ll be amazed how much they move around in a turbulent plane and pressure could cause them to ding your well wrapped surfboard.
  7. Wrap your board in bubble wrap, use the foam pipe protector on the rails and nose of your board – taping to the bubble wrap and then put a day bag or board sock over.
  8. If you’re carrying more than one board then pack the heaviest and longest on the bottom, wax side up.
  9. Always pack the same direction, don’t pack nose to tail if you have more than one board.
  10. Layer your towels, boardies and rash vests between your board layers – this will also keep your luggage weight down.
  11. Don’t forget to pack the duct tape in your luggage, a zip may go, or you may snag the fabric of your bag so duct tape could be a lifesaver.
  12. Pack heavier things like fins and wetsuits at the base or wheels if you have a coffin bag. Let gravity do its thing.
  13. Now weigh it. It may sound like a faff, but it could save you hundreds of pounds!
  14. Next, stick on ALL THE STICKERS – HEAVY… THIS WAY UP… FRAGILE… go to town on it.
  15. Finally, take pictures of your finished work, no not to brag to your mates on the plane but just in case it is needed in evidence for any claim. You’ll be able to prove how well your kit was packed.

That’s it – you are ready… Go forth and travel

Have fun and don’t forget to send us (tag us) in any pictures.