Flying with Skis and Snowboards

 

A few things of note regarding airline policies:

Boots in a “boot bag” never count as a piece of checked luggage, so long as they accompany a pair of skis or a snowboard and the bag contains only boots.

Skis and snowboard bags are subject to the same set of rules across the board, meaning that they are not treated differently and are always a single piece of luggage assuming they follow the airline’s specific and individual regulations.

As you’ll see, airlines do differ in their size and weight restrictions, as well as in the cost of checking a bag. As with any other piece of luggage, the price to check your equipment depends on the airline and no airline has a specific ski or snowboard fee.


Air Canada:

One or more sets of skis and poles carried together in the same container count as one piece of checked baggage (ski poles that are carried separately will count as a piece of checked baggage, so make sure you pack them in with the skis). Skis and poles must be packed in a rigid and/or hard shell case specifically designed for shipping. The policies for a snowboard are the same. There are no oversize charges for skis or snowboards, but overweight charges will apply (must be less than 50 lbs. or 23 kg).

If your baggage count (sports equipment plus number of other bags to be checked) exceeds the maximum number of items allowed by your fare type, additional checked baggage charges will apply. Whether you’re flying within Canada or to the United States will determine whether the first bag is free or incurs a $20 charge.


American:

One pair of skis/snowboard and one boot bag containing only boots/bindings will be treated as a single item with the applicable checked bag charge ($25 per bag unless you have reached a certain status with the airline or have another means of waiving bag fees, such as an airline credit card).

Boot bags must not contain other items or exceed 45 linear inches (length + width + height) to be grouped as a single item with skis/snowboard. Boot bags that contain other articles will be subject to the excess baggage charge for a single piece.

Skis and snowboards up to 126 inches are allowed without an oversized fee.


Southwest:

Southwest Airlines allows up to two bags (containing one set of snow skis, ski poles and ski boots) to count as one item, even if they are packed and tagged separately (one ski bag and one boot bag). Skis, poles and snowboards must be encased in an appropriate container.

Since Southwest gives you two free bags, you can avoid all baggage fees even if you check your clothes.  


Delta:

A ski bag or one snowboard bag and one boot bag is accepted per person and counts as one checked bag.

The combined weight of the ski/snowboard bag and the boot bag may not exceed 50 lbs. (23 kg) or excess weight charges will apply, however no excess size charges are applicable.

All standard baggage charges apply, meaning it is $25 per bag unless you have a means of waiving bag fees.


United:

United accepts one item of ski equipment per customer as checked baggage, either one snowboard or one ski bag (containing up to two sets of skis and poles) to go along with a boot bag.

Ski and boot bags must be less than 50 lbs. (23 kg) to avoid overweight charges.

The first or second checked baggage service charge applies to ski equipment ($25 for first, $35 for second). Ski equipment in addition to the baggage allowance will be assessed at the excess baggage charge.

Ski equipment must be securely encased in a suitable container, and United is not liable for damage to ski and snowboard equipment.


US Airways:

US Airway’s policies state that one item of ski equipment consists of one pair of skis or a snowboard, one pair of ski boots, one pair of ski poles and one pair of ski bindings. All equipment must be in a proper case, and everything but the boots must be packaged together in order to count as one bag.

US Airways will accept a maximum of two ski bags per passenger. The first bag is $25 and the second is $35.

US Airways will assume responsibility for the equipment, if it is properly protected and packaged in a case.


Frontier:

Skis (or snowboard), ski poles and ski boots all count as one checked bag. A pair of boots may be checked separate from the ski bag so long as it does not exceed 25 lbs. (if it does, it will be considered a separate bag). For example, one piece of luggage, one ski bag and a boot bag less than 25 lbs. equals two items, but a piece of luggage, one ski bag and one boot bag over 25 lbs. would equal three.

Oversize charges do not apply, but overweight charges will be assessed for a bag over 50 lbs..

Bag fees are charged based on the fare option purchased. Economy tickets translate into a $20 first-bag fee.