Avoiding Baggage Fees at the airport

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Avoiding Baggage Fees at the airport

Postby ChicagoKitesurfing » Tue May 20, 2003 9:01 am

Carrying your equipment on the plane with you can result in unnecessary charges. The person behind the counter has probably been working a hard day of dealing with rude and tired travelers, so its best to avoid any inclination that your baggage should be charged.

From AA website on the date of this post:

For flights wholly within the United States and between the United States and Canada the maximum amount of baggage each ticketed passenger is allowed free of charge is:

2 pieces checked and one carry-on
Please note that one carry-on personal item (see "Carry-on Allowance") does not count toward the free bag allowance.

Size and Weight
The size limitation of your luggage is calculated by adding the total outside dimensions of each bag, that is, length + width + height.

Two checked bags at 62 in/157 cm each
One carry-on bag at 45 in/114 cm

The maximum weight per checked bag is 50 lbs/23 kgs.
The maximum weight per carry-on bag is 40 lbs/18 kgs.

Sports Items
Excess charges always apply to the following sports items:
-Bicycle (if exceeding 50 lbs/32kgs or 62 in/157cm)
-Scuba Tank (empty)
-Wind surfing equipment
-Hang gliding equipment

The following items are free in place of one of the 62in/157cm bags within the free baggage allowance:
-Bicycle (if within 50 lbs/32 kgs and 62 in/157 cm)
-Boogie/Knee board
-Bowling equipment (bowling case with up to three bowling balls and shoes)
-Fishing equipment (2 rods, reel, net, tackle box and 1 pair of boots)
-Golf equipment (1 bag, 14 clubs, 12 balls and 1 pair of shoes contained in a self-provided travel bag or box) is not subject to the $25 charge for baggage weighing over 50lbs. but no more than 70lbs
-Hockey/Lacrosse stick
-Shooting equipment
-Ski equipment (1 pair of skis, poles, boots, and bindings. These items will count as 1 item.)

CKS comments
The best way to get around this is to pack your kiteboard separately in its own bag. It will be longer than the dimensions allowed, but should fit as a substitute to one of the checked items provided you convince them that its not windsurfing equipment or a surfboard. Most check-in personnel have no idea what a knee board is, so you can say its a "knee board" or a "snowboard". Obviously, you're going to have to act confident of this and convince the person that, if they ask, you are telling the truth. They are just itching to charge you.

By packing the kiteboard separately, though, you will most likely avoid any attention to the bag in the first place. Since you're taking a vacation to kitesurf, you will most likely be going somewhere there's wind, and plenty of it. So you don't need a huge board. Take a board that is no longer than ~155cm. Its packed-dimensions will be relatively short and light, since its only the board, and the person checking it will probably not even bother to measure it. If its within the limits, or at least considered to be, it can be anything you want.

Then for your harness, kite, controlbar, etc, you can use a large duffel for hockey equipment to pack your clothes and shoes, and your kites and kitegear. If your girlfriend is going, the two of you have 4 check-ins total, with each having a carry-on and a personal carry-on, making 8 bags total. That's plenty for 3-4 kites, two boards, wetsuits, etc. One hockey bag will get all the gear into it and you can shoe both boards into one boardbag and then use her two check-ins to pack all the clothes and stuff.

If you go with a board+kite bag, bigger and thicker and heavier with all the added equipment, you'll raise eyebrows. You can pull it off, and maybe they won't even look, but the risk is going to increase the larger the bag becomes. A hockey duffel is something they see a lot and would pass pretty easily.
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United Policy

Postby ChicagoKitesurfing » Tue May 20, 2003 9:11 am

This is from the United Website:

Oversized and excess baggage

Oversized baggage
Some checked items are assessed a special handling charge because of size, fragility, or other handling requirements. Examples are:

Scuba gear

There is a charge for checked items between 62 linear inches and 115 linear inches. We will not accept or check items in excess of 115 linear inches (length + width + height). No single dimension may be more than 62 inches.

Exceptionally bulky or fragile items will not be accepted as checked baggage, but may ride in a passenger seat in the cabin provided a ticket is purchased for the item and specific seating conditions have been met.

Contact United or your travel agent prior to your trip for details about any item that may be subject to a special handling charge. Acceptance, restrictions, and charges will vary depending upon destination.

Overweight baggage
On domestic flights, United will consider a checked baggage item weighing more than 50 pounds as overweight. An excess weight charge will apply for baggage weighing over 50 pounds. International allowance, size and weight rules may vary by destination. Contact United or a travel agent prior to your trip for specific charges.

Excess baggage
If you check more baggage than the free baggage allowance permits, you will need to pay a charge that will vary by destination. Contact United or a travel agent prior to your trip for specific charges and restrictions.

CKS Comments
So the 62 inches for United is almost the same as AA, although its for each dimension, so United is a little more flexible. But, the principle is the same. Keep the kiteboard short, at around ~155-157cm and packing it separately will reduce the attention it generates at the counter. If you pack it together with your kites, harness and bar/wetsuit/accessories, you're likely to draw more attention due to its larger size and weight. This could cost you $80, or more. If they ask, never say "kiteboard". Say "knee board" or "snow board" and tell them its a substitute item per your website. Chances are, you'll know more about the policy than they will. Print out the website page, as well, as a reference ahead of time so you can use it at the counter if it benefits your cause.
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Postby V » Mon May 17, 2004 1:23 pm

I took my 139cm SX2004 with me on all my trips this year. I packed it into a 150cm bag with two kites. To Mexico it was the 19 and 15m and to Bonaire it was the 15 and 11m. I had plenty of room for another kite but didn't think I needed it. Before and after the trip, I laid out the kites outside on the ground and made sure to get all the sand and air out to lessen the bulk and size. Its good to get a return flight in mid-to-late afternoon the day you leave the caribbean. If your gear is wet still, the bag weighs 20 lbs more it seems!

To get the air out the best way is to lay out the kite completely on its back and fold it lengthways entirely from one tip to the other (fold it in half). Then I fold the trailing edge in one half the chord of the kite. The tip is not folded however. So only the middle portion of th ekite gets folded in. Then start with a 4-6 inch fold in the tip and fold it over and over until you reach the middle release valve. This forces all the air to the middle from both sides at the same time and gets it super empty. Be sure to take a second or two to squeeze each folded section to make sure the air is out before folding again toward the center. Once it is done. I fold the two "rolls" over on each other and then start folding them toward the trailing edge.

This leaves me with a kite roll that is super tight and small. Make sure the kite is dry before doing this obviously. I can get my board, bar, wetsuit, two kites and pump and harness in one boardbag with room to spare for one additional kite.

I think my recent trip to Mexico left me with a bag weighing about 35 lbs. When the chick asked what it was, I said, wetsuits and scuba gear. She nodded and happily took the stuff to the beltway.
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Postby V » Tue Apr 12, 2005 2:13 pm

Took the same 150cm bag to Corpus with me. Bonaire, Mexico twice. So far no questions and no fees. I get one or two boards in the bag and a kite or two, harness. Now I've been putting in one board, two kites and my harness with bar/lines and small stuff (booties, etc).

I put the other two kites in a big hockey travel duffel bag with me. In that bag I put in another smaller duffel with my clothes, I still have a ton of roon left over for more gear if I needed it.

No fees, below the limit, and relatively easy to carry since my boardbag has backpack straps on it.
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