As cliché as it sounds, the prospect of idyllic waves spinning off the coast of some far flung atoll continues to dominate the imaginations of surfers around the globe. With the advent of the internet, superior forecasting tools, and flexible neoprene, sure many spots have become more crowded than they once were. But the travel experience is still just as rewarding and in some cases the waves secondary.
That is to say, travel is rewarding once you reach your destination. For all the air-travel industry’s advances, it can still be a nightmare when dealing with missed or canceled flights, layovers, and of course baggage fees.
Oversized bag fees are the bane of the traveling surfer’s existence. Given each airline charges you differently, and when push comes to shove it takes a social media firestorm for them to admit responsibility when mishandling the luggage you paid extra to transport (see also Alex Gray vs. American, John John vs jetBlue, etc., etc.), baggage fees are up there with jock itch on the top 10 list of things that irritate surfers.
Recently, though, Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines made changes to their policy on surfboards that are likely to make things a hell of a lot easier.
In a recent blog post, Alaska announced that all sporting equipment (including surfboards) will be accommodated for a modest $25 fee beginning July 19.
“Yep, that’s right – starting July 19, most sporting equipment that may exceed our normal checked baggage weight and dimensions flies for only $25,” said Alaska in the post. “This is a big win for sports enthusiasts and sports teams who can now take their gear along as one of their two checked bags for a fee of only $25. In the past, many of these items have carried a fee of $75.”
This adjustment also applies to Horizon Air and SkyWest, and will also apply to Virgin America at a later date, according to the post.
A little less than a year ago, Bob Hurley put Hawaiian Airlines on blast after he was told at the check-in desk the airline wouldn’t accept his 23lb board bag because it had three surfboards. Two, according to their policy at the time, was the maximum. Kelly Slater re-posted Hurley’s frustrated Instagram post adding, ” @hawaiianairlines should rectify their policy. It’s their #CashCow.”
Now, it seems, the airline has done just that. The new policy allows for as many boards as can fit in a single bag, so long as the bag doesn’t exceed a weight of 50lbs.
“The previous policy was based on our experience that three or more boards packed together were more likely to be damaged in transport,” a Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman told KHON2 News. “We are always looking at ways to improve the travel experience, and so we are hopeful that the new policy, along with improved handling procedures by our staff, will strike the right balance between accommodating our guests and making sure we get their boards safely to their destination.”
Traveling with boards on Hawaiian will still cost you between $35-150. But, hey. Progress.