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Checking Double Ski bag on United (or other airlines)

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So, trip planning season is upon us and now I am faced with the decision on how to get gear out to the mountain.

Before you suggest it, I'll get this out of the way.  Yes, I did a search, in fact I did multiple searches and I read many details about this topic.  They ranged from double ski bags are no problem, to someone at United told them that they were going to start enfocing the one pair, per bag rule, to one person who got hammered for an additiona $125 for having two pairs in the same bag.  Many of the posts date all the way back to 2005.

One of my trips this season requires me to fly on United.  They would not have been my first choice.  Does anyone have any experiences that they could share from last season regarding double ski bags?

What I'm facing is this:

United Bag Fees:  $15 for first bag, $25 for second if pre-registered online.  $20 for first, $30 for second if done at the airport.  So basically $50 each way.  It's going to be $100 to get my ski bag and gear bag checked there and back.  And, it appears that I'm going to need to choose only one pair of skiis instead of taking two.

My other options are ship double ski bag and check my gear bag, or ship both bags and just carry on my backpack with boots.
FYI...my double bag is a Dakine Fall Line double and my single bags are the Dakine Concourse bags. 

Any thoughts or guidance?

BTW, the search revealed that many people had tried the shipping angle with FedEx, UPS and DHL.  Some had positive experiences, others not so much.  There was mention of two other services that I don't recall, I think Luggage forward was one of them.
post #2 of 17
 I have had 8 trips west in the past 2 seasons. I have kept my ski bag (Dakine wheeled double bag) under 50 lb and have never been charged a premium. Airlines that say a boot bag and ski count as one bag, combined, they have to be under 50lb. I use my boot bag as a carry on and pack my ski bag with between 3-4 pair of skis (yes 4 pair (I remove and pack bindings separate)) and carry my boots on.
post #3 of 17
Yep, same with me.  I flew UAL a bunch last year and never was charged more than the regular $15.   Carry your boots and enough gear to ski your expected conditions,  on the plane.  Pack 1 pair of skis and all the rest of your stuff in the double ski bag and keep it under 50lbs.
Demo if you totally blow the ski choice?
post #4 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Yep, same with me.  I flew UAL a bunch last year and never was charged more than the regular $15.   Carry your boots and enough gear to ski your expected conditions,  on the plane.  Pack 1 pair of skis and all the rest of your stuff in the double ski bag and keep it under 50lbs.
Demo if you totally blow the ski choice?
 

Same here.  I flew UAL several times last year to CO.  I use the double bag w/ one pr of skis packing clothing to fill the void.  Keep it under 50lbs.  Use boot bag as carry-on, stick gloves, ski pants, socks and goggles in bag.  Carry on your ski jacket. I also cram my helmet into boot bag, taking it out before i stick the bag in the overhead.  Never had a problem w/ airlines doing this.
post #5 of 17
I do most of my trips with carry-ons only.  In the East, I don't have much use for the kind of ski I like in the West, so renting ends up cheaper than buying for me, especially if I need to pay $100 or more in baggage fees.  If I only have carry-ons it's way easier to get re-routed, which happens frequently.
That said, I like Phil's idea of takiing the bindings off skis if you want to take 2 pairs.  Depending on what bindings you have, it's not that hard to do.

BK
 
post #6 of 17
Yeah, in the West you don't really need the bindings anyway, the snow is so soft 'n fluffy...
post #7 of 17
I use a double ski bag with two pair of skis/poles (my wife's and mine)  and as many clothes as I stuff in it, combined with a carry on boot bag containing my boots and one complete ski outfit. That way if they lose my checked bag I can still ski on rentals until they find it.  My wife has the same carry on setup for herself and one big checked bag with the rest of our clothes.  We weigh the ski and other checked bag to push the allowable weight limit.  The only flaw in this system was when we flew internationally and had to open the ski bag for inspection on the return flight, which contained a lot of dirty clothes and was a mess to repack on the airport floor.

It helps to take a copy of one of the airline's adds from a ski magazine in your pocket.  If they give you a hard time and want to charge extra for the over sized ski bag go to customer service and waive the add at them and complain about how they advertise ski flights but don't tell you they charge extra for skis, which usually gets them to drop the charge.
post #8 of 17
Anyone have different experience traveling with United this season so far or the same? 
post #9 of 17
"United Bag Fees:  $15 for first bag, $25 for second if pre-registered online.  $20 for first, $30 for second if done at the airport.  So basically $50 each way.  It's going to be $100 to get my ski bag and gear bag checked there and back.  And, it appears that I'm going to need to choose only one pair of skiis instead of taking two."

In my experience the airlines treat sports equipment, such as skis, differently from regular bags. As someone posted earlier, skis are counted as two pieces of luggage, ie a ski bag AND a boot bag. From your first post, it's not clear if you've looked at that option.

I've also found it wise to take a printout of appropriate section of the website that sets out what's allowed. It makes explaining your point a lot easier at check-in.

It's also worth remembering that if you decide to rent, you'll probably still want to take your boots & that'll mean a second bag anyway so you're still paying for two regular bags & your rental.

CW :-)
post #10 of 17
 I just checked my bags on line for our trip back home and it was $18 and $27 respectively...If I can find a way NOT to fly United (other than a free ticket) I will. 
post #11 of 17
Any info on American Airlines? Just booked to SLC today.
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 
Follow up from my initial question.  I ended up taking a single bag on United for my trip to Steamboat.  As Phil stated it was $20 for the first bag and $30 for the 2nd bag.  You can pre-order this online and save $10 (5 each bag) but unless they've changed it, there's a drop down menu on the online bag check that disallows online check in for oversided items including ski bags. 

I can't recall, but I think my brother flew United too.  He ignored that notice and checked in online even though one of his two items was a ski bag & boot bag that counted as one.  The counter people didn't give him any hassle. 

As far as the double bag goes, they didn't look at my ski bag or open it.  TSA did, but not United.  The doulbe bag would have been fine probably.

I'm flying to Denver next week on Southwest and then to SLC in March on SW, so the double bag will be making those trips. 
post #13 of 17
I'm flying United to Denver next month.  I've decided to play by the rules with one pair of skis and not extra stuff in the ski bag.  You can get lucky, but if the agent decides to press the written rules it can get expensive.  My brother got lucky last year with Delta.  The agent asked if his boots were in his large checked duffle and then counted that as his boot bag!  So duffle and skis counted as one checked bag and then the first bag was free.  All depends on the agent and what management at that airport is telling them.
post #14 of 17
  As long as it's under 50lbs, they don't really care whats in it!
post #15 of 17
combined weight of ski bag and "boot" bag, that is.
post #16 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by drb View Post

combined weight of ski bag and "boot" bag, that is.

I never check my boots, so I don't know that for sure, but that is my understanding. I was only referring to a double ski bag.
From my experience, they don't care if it has clothing, two pair of skis or skis & snowboard inside, as long as it's under 50lbs.
 
I think if you do try to check both as one piece, eventually an agent/skycap is going to screw you somewhere/somehow?
post #17 of 17
The whole family (6) flew United LAX to Denver over New Year's (on free tickets); I read the web site re baggage:
 
Allowance/requirements
1 ski bag, containing 1 pair of skis and poles, plus 1 boot bag, containing boots and bindings only, are allowed in place of one checked bag.
Maximum size/weight
If combined weight of ski bag and boot bag exceed 50 pounds (23 kg), an overweight fee applies.
 
Thus, the official policy is (1) a ski bag with skis and poles (presumably with bindings off, but that's not clear) and (2) a boot bag with boots and bindings only, and (3) max 50 pounds for the pair of bags.

Since we needed to check other bags as well and wanted to limit the payment of exorbitant baggage fees, I wanted to pack the skis in pairs, and I sweated bullets as to whether anyone would check them (we also wanted to pack ski gear in the boot bags).  But I went ahead and doubled up the skis (with bindings off) and filled the "boot bags" (which were just medium sized gym bags) with the boots, bindings and other ski gear, and both at LAX and Denver I used the curbside luggage folks and there was absolutely no issue, no question etc.  They knew exactly how to count the bags (i.e. one ski bag + 1 boot bag = 1 bag).  Also, I paid for all of my baggage in advance on line (which saves about 5 bucks per bag) and there's no way to designate ski+boot bags so I just signed up for a single bag for each combination of ski- and boot-bag (which count as a single bag per United's rules) and the curbside folks totally knew how that worked so there was no problem.  I dread, however, to think what would happen if United were to start enforcing its rules, which are actually pretty ridiculous (who on earth packs just boots and bindings in a boot bag?; and given the 50 pound limit, I think the official limit to 1 pair of skis is pretty ridiculous).
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