It’s easily the worst part of a surf trip: paying your overweight baggage fees. Depending on anything from the airline you fly with to the temperament of the clerk checking in your bags, there are times when bringing two boards along can cost as much as the airfare itself. I realize I’m preaching to the choir here if I jump into a rant about how ridiculous that can be.
But in case any of you have had enough time between surf trips to forget some of that frustration, just remember Kelly Slater doesn’t get a break from such hassles.
“This topic just baffles me,” he wrote today via Instagram “…@hawaiianairlines should rectify their policy. It’s ridiculous and a default profit racket. They made over $70M last year in oversize/overweight baggage charges.”
This topic just baffles me… @hawaiianairlines should rectify their policy. It’s ridiculous and a default profit racket. They made over $70M last year in oversize/overweight baggage charges. #Repost @bobhurley with @repostapp ・・・ I get happy when I see this logo. I love @hawaiianairlines BUT, recently had a horrible experience. Normally airlines charge extra for surfboards. We all expect it. Had three small boards in a 23 pound bag. They only allow two…even itty bitty ones…Was told in Honolulu that it’s not possible to put them on the plane. I offered to pay xtra. Not possible says the manager. “Two is da rule”I said “it’s possible, I travel a ton and weight is the litmus test…she said this one time she would do me a favor…let me pay for two bags although it was one and she would look the other way….when I said…But…I felt like I may get arrested. Super bad vibes…Not another word… I know a lotta surfers that will no longer fly Hawaiian. I would be so happy to help with a practical and profitable policy…but they have not asked So sad for me. I don’t like doing stuff like this but I reached out to Hawaiian and they ignored me. Such a bum out. Be careful cause you will get busted for being smart and honest…#dontflyhawaiianairlines @johnjohn_slater. Whaaaaaa poor me😎😂@WSL @surfingmagazine @sharpeyesurfboards
Slater’s not the only professional surfer who’s taken to social media to vent about dealing with airlines and the stress of making sure his boards can fly safe and sound, and he certainly won’t be the last. Remember John John’s Thank You to JetBlue? How about the time British Airways lost an entire national surf team’s quiver, just in time for them to flounder at the 2015 Euro Surf.
The point is, Kelly’s recent rant is just one small piece of a $70 million drop into a much, much larger bucket. His claim that it’s all a profit racket isn’t far fetched. And while the recent venting was aimed at Hawaiian Airlines, a business that serves a heavy customer base of surfers, it’s far from the only airline contributing to the problem. According to a survey by IdeaWorksCompany, North America’s airline industry pocketed $11 Billion in “a la carte fees” in 2015. That number would include everything from paying for early boarding to, you guessed it, bringing your surfboard. The comfort fees have become a major revenue stream for airlines with overweight baggage only adding to the final tally. As for the portion of profits specific to baggage fees in that survey, IdeaWorksCompany found that airlines in the United States alone took in $1.8 Billion in just the first six months of 2015.
This is one heck of a get rich scheme.