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Catching a wave after your flight? If you’re planning to bring your own surfboard to your destination, you could face some hefty checked bag fees that usually can’t be avoided, even with an airline-branded credit card that offers free checked baggage.
If you're plan to bring a surfboard on a plane, here's what you need to know.
Most surfer-friendly airlines
The best airlines for surfers are American Airlines and Alaska Airlines because they consider surfboards a normal piece of checked luggage. That means you won’t have to pay oversized baggage fees, as long as your board bag isn’t too heavy.
Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines also have cheap rates when you fly between certain destinations. It’s also more cost effective to buddy up and bundle two surfboards together in one case, so you can fly two surfboards for the price of one on the airlines that allow the practice.
» Learn more: 6 ways to save baggage fees
Airline surfboard fees, broken down
Here are surfboard policies by airline.
The American Airlines surfboard fee is straightforward. Surfers only pay standard checked bag fees for surfboards that are less than 50 pounds. That’s $45 if the surfboard is your only checked item.
If you’re flying with fellow wave riders and can cram two surfboards into one bag, you’ll only pay one checked bag fee to transport both boards.
It may be called Alaska Airlines, but this carrier has flights to Hawaii and other West Coast destinations that are known for their great waves. You can take a surfboard or paddleboard case with up to two boards inside for the same price as a normal piece of checked luggage.
The Alaska Airlines surfboard fee $30 for the first checked item, which makes flying Alaska one of the most budget-friendly ways to travel with your surfboard. If you have the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card, your free checked bag perk will waive the fee to check your surfboard. The maximum dimensions for the surfboards vary by aircraft, so check on its website before you go.
Delta Air Lines
The Delta Air Lines surfboard fee requires wave riders to shell out at least $150 to fly with your surfboards. Other fees may apply as well if your bag is over 70 pounds, and boards are limited to 115 inches in length.
Different rates are charged for surfboards based on where you’re flying according to the Hawaiian Airlines surfboard policy.
Heading over to a neighboring Hawaiian island? You'll pay $35 to check your surfboard.
Going to or from elsewhere in North America with your surfboard will cost you $100.
Other international destinations will cost you $150.
There is an exception that makes it free to check your surfboard if you’re flying to Australia and New Zealand and the board counts as one of your two pieces of checked luggage. Regardless, your bag cannot be over 50 pounds, or it will not be accepted.
» Learn more: The airlines with the best (and worst) fees
JetBlue surfboard baggage fees are $100 to check one surfboard each way. It cannot weigh more than 100 pounds. Surfboards are not accepted when flying to/from Bermuda, Haiti, Peru, Port of Spain, Santo Domingo and Santiago.
Surfboards that weigh over 50 pounds can fly for $75 each way on Southwest. Otherwise, Southwest surfboard fees can be avoided by substituting your board for one checked bag. Keels and fins must be removed and placed in carryon or checked baggage.
The Spirit Airlines surfboard fee states that it costs $100 to check surfboards. You can save money by putting two surfboards in one bag, as overweight and oversize charges do not apply to surfboards with Spirit.
Travelers with United will pay the normal checked baggage fee of $30 (pre-paid) for the first checked item when flying to California, and this fee can be waived by having a United credit card and using it to book your flight. When you’re flying to and from destinations outside of California, a United surfboard fee is usually charged as oversized baggage that is $150 or $200 depending on the size.
Flying with surfboards doesn't have to be costly
If you’re planning to fly with your surfboard, it always makes sense to double-check baggage fees before you buy your ticket. It might be worth spending a little extra on airfare to book with an airline that doesn’t charge or charges lower fees for your board.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: 5 new ways to maximize your travel booking on Google NerdWallet’s top travel credit cards This new website will help you find a cheap flight