One early morning last winter I stopped to catch my breath in the San Diego airport after lugging my skis, backpack, and a massive duffle through the terminal when I ran into a friend heading to Hawaii for a week of surfing. Her luggage? A small carry-on packed with a bikini, some shorts, and pair of sandals. I wish, I thought.
Traveling with skis and their accouterments is no easy feat, but if you're chasing the snow this winter there's a good chance you'll be checking a bag—and that will cost you. Baggage fees can seriously affect your bottom line when traveling. These policies take some digging to find and decipher—so we did it for you, because we like you and want you to save your money for beer.
Air Canada: First bag free
Generally, the first bag is free with Air Canada, though if you’re going somewhere exotic, this may vary. Air Canada also counts a ski bag plus a boot bag as just once piece of luggage.
Alaska: $25 for your first bag, $25 for your second bag
One piece of ski equipment is defined as one pair of skis with a boot bag. Ski bags may exceed 62 inches (linear), without incurring an oversize fee.
American: $25 for your first bag, $35 for your second
Paired together, a ski bag and boot bag up to 45 inches counts as one checked item on American Airlines. If you put anything else in your boot bag, you'll have to pay an excess baggage fee and you may be asked to open your bag at the airport.
Delta: $25 for your first bag, $35 for your second
All standard baggage charges apply. One ski bag paired with one boot bag is accepted per person, and the combined weight of the bags may not exceed 50 pounds or excess weight charges will apply.
Frontier: $25 for your first bag, $35 for your second
One ski bag with one boot bag (boot bag must weigh less than 25 pounds) is considered one checked item on Frontier. If the boot bag is more than 25 pounds, it will be considered a second bag. But watch out—Frontier also charges $30 for every piece of carry-on luggage. No free beverage service either. Lame.
Southwest allows for two free checked bags per person. When substituting ski equipment for a free bag, Southwest Airlines allows up to two bags (containing one set of skis, poles, and boots) to count as one item, even if they are packed and tagged separately. Ski equipment will not be subject to excess size charges. However, excess weight charges of $75 may apply if your bag weighs more than 50 pounds. Pack less underwear.
United: $25 for your first bag, $35 for your second
United accepts one ski bag per customer. A boot bag with an accompanied ski bag is considered one bag, but if the combined weight of the ski bag and boot bag is over 50 pounds, applicable overweight charges apply.