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best airlines for ski luggage

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

Has anyone researched airlines to find the ones with the best (least expensive/flexible) policies on taking skis and other luggage?  I am planning a trip to the Alps this winter via London and need to figure in luggage costs with the face value of the tickets.

 

Thanks.

 

Tom

post #2 of 17

When I flew with Lufthansa a few years ago, they allowed a 2nd free bag for sports equipment...check their website to be sure.  If you have to go via London, Virgin Atlantic may turn out to be a better option as they are one of the better airlines I have flown with across the Pond.

post #3 of 17

Check Delta. I pay with my Amex Card, so the 1st bag is free in North America. I think the 1st bag is free on International flights, so maybe the 2nd back is free if you pay with an Amex card?

post #4 of 17

Air Canada is great. Amazing service and seats in Economy and Business are great as well and connecting through Toronto is a breeze. Free first bag on flights and you can connect through London on many airlines through star alliance. For skiing, all skis in a ski bags (I can put 2 in my bag) + one boot bag are treated as 1 normal bag. If your flying in business you get 3 bags free and economy 1 bag free. But you can bring a suitcase on board and pack some extras in your ski bag or boot bag.

post #5 of 17

This won't help you for getting to Europe, but for a domestic trip to Colorado I found that Southwest did not charge for my skis + boots (which together counted as 1 bag).

post #6 of 17

Most airlines will treat a ski (or ski+boot) bag as "one bag" as long as it's under the weight limit (usually 50 pounds).  I've flown both SWISS and Air Canada to Europe and neither had any problem with ski equipment.  (Well, other than that one time that they forgot to put the skis on the plane.  Whoops.)

 

Typically on international flights on European carriers you get two checked bags with your ticket -- but not always, and policies change frequently.  Check the fine print VERY CAREFULLY before you book anything.

 

Also, I'd recommend not checking your boots, and carrying them on board as your 'personal item'.  But I have boots that are essentially impossible to replace on short notice.

post #7 of 17

The few times I've flown for skiing (usually I just drive now, it's usually cheaper and less hassle in the long run) I used Southwest. No complaints from the baggage side.

 

Delta once lost a bicycle light (or it was stolen) from one of my boxes. It took almost 6 months for them to complete the claim. I must have made thirty phone calls, ten faxes and spoke with ten different people - they kept 'losing' my documentation.

 

They will not see me as a passenger again.

 

 

:D

 

 

 

post #8 of 17

The last few trips, we have rented or got demos. Although I fly enough to get free luggage, it's often not worth the hassle of getting skis to/from the destination and making sure the rental vehicle can accomodate skis. We always bring our own boots, but have been leaving the skis at home.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiwhitblu View Post

Air Canada is great. Amazing service and seats in Economy and Business are great as well and connecting through Toronto is a breeze. Free first bag on flights and you can connect through London on many airlines through star alliance. For skiing, all skis in a ski bags (I can put 2 in my bag) + one boot bag are treated as 1 normal bag. If your flying in business you get 3 bags free and economy 1 bag free. But you can bring a suitcase on board and pack some extras in your ski bag or boot bag.



While Air Canada may seem attractive, they have a horrible record for having your checked luggage arrive 1 day or several days after you arrive at your destination. It is so bad that the ski shop that i work at has an Air Canada voucher system in the ski shops computer system so we can bill them directly while setting the customer up in equipment that they get to use at no charge until their skis arrive. We even have some rental ski pants and jackets available.

 

My advice is that no matter which airline you use, TAKE YOUR SKI BOOTS AS CARRY ON LUGGAGE.

post #10 of 17

For the past two years, I have shipped my boots and some other bulky things directly to the hotel. 

 

Here are the primary benifits of shipping a package.

 

1) Extreamly reliable, plus you can track the package on-line.

2) Don't have to lug some of the bigger & heaver stuff.

2-A) Carrying boots on a crowded flight blows

3) Was able to include a couple of bottles of booze. (Pack this carefully)

 

 

The price was offset by not needing to pay for a 2nd bag. 

post #11 of 17

Look at British airways, they are normally very good. You can have 2 hand luggage, of unlimited weight. I usually take boots and a laptop on the plane with me

post #12 of 17

I don't think there's any secret to it - just find the cheapest few airlines, before the bag fees, and then find out what their bag fees are to see which is truly the cheapest.  $75 higher airfare with $100 lower fees is still a net savings.

I take my boots and helmet in my carryon.  A helmet is worthless if it's been dropped hard or crushed, and if you check it you have no way of knowing if this happened to it during transit.  This may be a bit extreme of me, but in my opinion therefore a helmet that has flown as checked baggage is a worthless helmet.  (That being said, I once fell while getting off of a plane, twisted my knee, and landed on my helmet which shattered it, so I guess I can't win.)

As for carrying on the boots, it's just that I paid to get custom footbeds, so darn it, I want to use them.  If my checked bags get lost, I could rent skis, fine, but I can't rent boots that fit my feet as well as my boots do.


Edited by chase - 10/15/11 at 7:50pm
post #13 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanoT View Post

While Air Canada may seem attractive, they have a horrible record for having your checked luggage arrive 1 day or several days after you arrive at your destination. It is so bad that the ski shop that i work at has an Air Canada voucher system in the ski shops computer system so we can bill them directly while setting the customer up in equipment that they get to use at no charge until their skis arrive. We even have some rental ski pants and jackets available.

 

My advice is that no matter which airline you use, TAKE YOUR SKI BOOTS AS CARRY ON LUGGAGE.



I did a little searching, and it seems like hard numbers on Air Canada's rate of 'mishandled' luggage are hard to find -- they're not a US airline and so they aren't in the DOT reports (http://airconsumer.dot.gov/reports/index.htm), and they're not a European airline and so they're not in the AEA reports (http://eventplanning.about.com/library/aea-summer-report-09.pdf).  Canada doesn't seem to provide comparable numbers, or at least I'm not finding them.

 

When a US airline (US Airways, I think?) lost my gf's luggage going to Utah, they also directed us to a shop set up with free rental clothing and equipment, so that's not unique to Air Canada.

 

I agree, again, on hand-carrying your boots.  Skis are easy to rent or replace (even if there's a lot of paperwork).  Custom boots not so much.

 

Shipping gear in advance can work well if you have time to set it up.

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the great advice.  This was a big help.

 

Tom

post #15 of 17

Lufthansa is an awesome airline & has free ski carriage.  Same for Swiss Air & Austrian Air (last time I flew last year).  I found the Lufthansa flight much better as an overall airline, but Swiss & Austrian were fine too

post #16 of 17

I flew Lufthansa from JFK to MUC last season en route to the Alps.  My skis and luggage came through in fine condition.  Their overhead bins are smaller than on US carriers, so make sure your boot bag isn't an unwieldy shape.

post #17 of 17

Tom if you're going via London, whatever you do be careful if you're tempted to book one of our budget airlines for your onward journey to the alps. They not only charge for ski carriage (anything around £20 or $30 each way) but they also charge for all hold baggage. What looks like a good deal becomes as expensive the non budget carriers. I think Swiss air have free carriage as does SAS. I don't think BA does any longer, however. I'm sure they changed 2 years ago, even for transatlantic flights. Check that out I may be wrong.

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