As an avid snowboarder and skateboarder, I can confidently say on 50% of my flights I’m taking one sort of board or another. Though British Airways is going the way of Ryan Air in how they treat this extra baggage (charging you £40 for the extra boot/helmet bag), most every other airline allows you to bring a board bag + an extra bag for boots and helmet for no extra charge.
To some this may seem quite burdensome. How often have you walked down the terminal of an airport and seen some frantic looking guy lugging a big Dakine Snow-bag and thought to yourself “Does NOT look fun”. However if you have your head on straight during this process, you can actually utilize the airlines rules on this to your favour.
The biggest step is finding the right bag, which fits the requirements. Your obvious step is going to be going onto the airline website and finding what requirements they have. Most importantly PRINT THIS PAGE OUT. There is no use in knowing this information only to be told you are wrong at the check in counter (and believe me most airlines will give you a bit of a hard time when you check in). Personally I’ve had issues in Macedonia, London, Bulgaria, and Beijing bringing my snowboard only to have the issue solved immediately by providing a copy of the T&C’s the airline have printed on their website….but I digress.
The average size of a board you are going to bring is not to exceed 80 inches (203 cm), so you have an idea of what you have to work with (this excludes your boot/helmet bag).
To put that in perspective, you have roughly the length and width of a snowboard and the height of two rolled up tee shirts of room you can pack into that bag on top of your snowboard. This is more than your average inner frame bag, and again does not even include the extra boot bag you are able to bring.
For the extra bag you can bring, I have a ‘stock’ ‘giant military’ duffle bag which comes in at 30” x 50” which I manage to fit my boots, helmet, jacket, and pants into without any problems. Normally I can also fit all my socks and boxers, plus some shirts and extras provided I don’t go too wild with the volume I opt to fill the bag with.
Typically on a flight bringing my board, utilizing just the free option I have one bag which is 170 x 26 x 8 cm for my board, all my shirts, my bindings, and a few pairs of shoes, and another bag at about 30” x 30” which I fill with my boots and everything else. MEANING if you opt to bring the board, you can actually bring a greater volume of clothing than if you just fill in one bag
I understand that some may not snowboard, however consider this:
If you are making a one way trip and want to do it as cheaply as possible, why not purchase the absolute cheapest snowboard you can find on craigslist and use it as an excuse to bring all the gear. Chances are you can sell it at your end destination, and without bringing boots and a helmet, that other ‘boot/helmet’ bag will be free space to fit the other things you’d like to bring.
Perhaps this is a bit of a reach for some, and a very extreme way of avoiding a $40-80 fee by the airline for an extra bag, however if you are an avid international traveler, move a lot, or simply want to be able to bring your boards with you to snow/skate on your free time, this is an invaluable way of increasing what you can bring, while utilizing the airlines own rules to accomplish this at no extra charge.
I cannot emphasize enough to print out the T&C page, however, as most airport employees are not wise to the airlines baggage rules on sports equipment and so long as you prove you are right and stand your ground, this extra baggage trick will work 100% of the time