Taking a plane trip to go sailing to a new spot is always an idea that excites us. We all have spent hours on the internet watching the best spots in the world and imagining us there. However, once you decide your journey, you have to evaluate whether to travel with your windsurf gear or leave it at home.

Taking it with us is not always the best idea, if we don’t plan it well, it can be expensive and create many problems. It is also advisable to see if at our destination we can find schools or places to rent the gear, depending on how much time we will be there, it could be the best option. In addition, this has the advantage that if the conditions change, we can have access to the appropriate equipment.

However, in many places it is not easy to rent. Or maybe we are lucky enough to go for a considerable period of time. Or we just want to enjoy the spot with our gear because we have it to use it!!. For those cases I will try to explain the conclusions that I have been able to reach after a few flights, I hope it will help you to plan the next windsurfing trip.

Choosing the airline

Not all airlines are the same when it comes to carrying special luggage. It is very important to choose one that have the windsurfing gear in their sports equipment clasification. For example, this is the definition in the web page of Iberia.

Iberia special luggage

This is very important since most of the problems at the airport start because, normally, the people who are checking in have no idea what is that giant stuff that we want to get on the plane !!! I recommend to print and carry with you the section of the website where it defines it, and where it indicates that it is possible to transport it.

Examples of airlines that do have this specified are: Iberia, Lufthansa, Air France, KLM, American Airlines, Emirates.

Annnnnnddddd no low cost airlines, what you can save on the ticket you will pay it, and moreover, if you show up with a boardbag by the airport. In our page Spots Worldwide we have a complete list of “windsurf friendly” airlines.

Baggage allowance

When choosing the airline it’s important to see if the equipment is included in the baggage allowance or not. This means, if we can check our boardbag as a “normal” suitcase. This is very important. If, for example, we travel with a hand bag, and the boardbag could be included in the allowance, we won’t need to pay anything. It will be our only checked baggage.

For example, this is what is written at the Emirates website.

Emirates baggage allowance

If you have to check a suitcase, plus the boardbag, it’s very likely you’ll have to pay it as special luggage. However, if you previously bought online an extra suitcase, your allowance will now be two suitcases and you will meet the requirement.

This will generally come out much cheaper than if you pay it as special baggage. Which is what happens in those airlines that doesn’t include it as part of the baggage allowance.

Weight and size

Most airlines gives great importance to the weight of their luggage. Not only because of the overload on the flight, but also because of the labor legislation  for the loading & unloading staff. This is why sports equipments are restricted in size and weight. The airlines with no windsurf equipment catalogued, these restrictions can be of 190cm. Which is a serious problem !!

However, the importance they give to the dimensions isn’t the same as that the one given to the weight. If you exceed in dimensions, with a little bit of charm you can escape without problems. But if you exceed in weight, you will surely be charged and at a price of gold per each extra kg.

Most baggage allowances are limited to 23kg. If we think that a board weighs 6/8kg, mast, boom and sails about 2kg each and the boardbag another 6/8kg, we are reaching about 18/22kg and only carrying one sail!! Add extensions, harness, etc. And we are out of limit.

The sails should go without sleeves, the fins in the suitcase just like the mast foot and the extension.

Unifiber boardbag It is a key point that when it comes to buying the boardbag we look at the weight. Those with wheels (I know it’s great to have them) weigh on average, 2kg more than those who don’t. Without any advertising intention, I’ve managed to put the following in a board bag like this. A wave board, two masts of 3.7m and 4.0m, a boom and three sails of 3.7m2, 4.5m2 and 5.3m2. All in 23kg. It can be done!!

Protect your gear

It is well known the care and good treatment that the airport staff gives to the luggage (irony mode on). Especially the board has all the lottery numbers to suffer some damage in the transport. For that reason we must do everything possible to protect it.

Here I will tell you how I do it. There’s no guarantee of anything, maybe someone has a better formula (if so, please leave it in the comments).
First remove the fins and then protect the nose and tail in the best possible way, for this we will use the wetsuits as it appears in the pictures.

We simply put the wetsuit legs under the board, with the body of the wetsuit we protect the rails and then we use the arms to fix the whole system.
In the tail we pass the arms through the rear footstraps. In the nose we can put a nylon bag over it and fix it with masking tape. We cover the rest of the board with some bubble sheet, and from there straight to the boardbag. If we only have one wetsuit, a good alternative is to use the harness as protection for the tail. We have to be careful with the weight issue, but if it’s ok with it, just do it (see photo).

Show up early to the airport

It seems quite obvious, but I want to emphasize its importance. Check in a special bag takes time. they have to weigh it, see if it fits your allowance, in case you have to pay an extra fee you have to do it (with the price discussion included), you have to take it to the special luggage conveyor belt, etc.

If we do all of this if when everyone is already checking in, it will not only make us nervous, but also the airport staff and, therefore, they will be less willing to help and collaborate.

Well, so far the post today, I hope you find it useful. If you have more advices or recommendations, I invite you to leave them in the comments. If you liked it, please share it, so you help us to reach more people. Until next time!!

5 tips to travel with your windsurf gear
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