Due to the increase in popularity of surfing in recent years, most airline staff know what surfboards are, understand they’re fragile and handle them accordingly. However, there are always horror stories about boards arriving off the plane battered, like John John Florence’s did when he flew with jetBlue:
Airline’s won’t reimburse you for damages, so if you give yourself a bit of time and patience when packing your boards, you can avoid this ever happening. So here are our top ten tips for traveling with a surfboard.
1. Check the airline’s surfboard policy. Some airlines charge you per board, some limit the amount of boards and some just straight up don’t accept surfboard. Make sure you are clear on the guidelines before you book and travel. I’ve had great experiences with SriLankan, South African, Singapore and Quatar who let surfboards fly free if they are under the weight allowance. Check this blog to make sure.
2. Choose the right surfboards for your trip. You need to know the sort of waves you’re going to be surfing and pack boards accordingly. I had a shocker in Indo and lugged around 3 boards that were all pretty inappropriate.
3. Choose the right board bag. Again, this is from personal experience having lugged around a massive coffin board bag which weighed a ton, whilst my travel partner had two carefully planned boards in a nice compact duo travel bag. I was jealous for two months. This is a good one.
4. Wrap it up. Once you’ve picked your weapons of choice, scrape off all the old wax, remove your fins and put them somewhere secure, then get some pipe insulation (from a local hardware store), cut a slit in it, wrap it around the rails of your boards and use some tape to keep it in place.
5. Bubble wrap. Put a layer of bubble wrap on the deck of the surfboard for added protection and again tape this together as it will come apart during the next phase.
6. Sock it up. Squeeze your perfectly protected board into a board sock for yet even more cushioning. This sock will be good for day to day travel when you get to your destination.
7. Stack em up. Now you’re ready to load your boards into your board bag, just make sure you start with the largest board at the bottom, wax side up, with the smaller boards on top, all facing the same way.
8. Strap em up. Most good bags will come with straps, but if they don’t, use leashes or roof rack straps. Both will come in handy when you arrive.
9. Pack your clothes! For an extra layer of padding, just chuck all your clothes, towels, wetsuits and soft stuff in there and evenly distribute it.
10. Weigh it. Seriously, if you take all of the advice above without packing sensibly you’re going to have a heavy bag. So just make sure it’s within the airline’s weight restriction.
Extra tip! If you’re packing a board with glass on fins, build up an extra layer of padding between the fins with some foam or polystyrene then wrap some extra padding around this whole area. Pillows, wetsuits and towels work well.