If you’re flying to the Alps, luggage restrictions can seriously affect the price tag of your ski holiday. It’s something we sometimes don’t think about when booking a flight, but in some cases the checked luggage fees can be higher than the plane fare itself! That’s not to mention that many airlines just don’t accept ski equipment, or call it ‘special luggage’, make you book in advance and charge you an arm and a leg. Some airlines know where it’s at, however, and they’ve organised things to provide attractive options for skiers and snowboarders. These are some of the easiest airlines to travel on when carrying skis or a snowboard.
They don’t call themselves the skier's airline for nothing. For all fares except Economy Light, ski or snowboard equipment goes free of charge in addition to the standard checked baggage allowance. ‘Ski or snowboard equipment’ refers to either a pair of skis, boots, poles and a helmet OR a snowboard, boots and helmet. Winter sporters can also use the Fly Rail baggage service to have their ski or snowboard equipment delivered directly to their Swiss railway destination or the nearest bus stop. The best destination to fly to with Swiss Air is Geneva, jumping-off point for both the Swiss and the French Alps.
Ski and snowboard equipment in a purpose-made ski or snowboard bag with maximum dimensions of 190x75x65cm can count as your checked baggage as long as it doesn’t exceed the baggage weight limitations. For large sports equipment, British Airways recommends arriving an extra 15 minutes earlier than usual to make sure the baggage check-in process goes smoothly. If your boot bag fits the hand luggage dimensions then you may carry it on as hand luggage, otherwise you’ll have to check it in. It is not permitted to board the plane wearing your ski boots, so unfortunately that option’s out. BA offers a variety of destinations in the Alps and other skiing hotspots.
Tickets with the code “1 PC” entitle the bearer to bring one ski or snowboard bag as their free item of checked luggage on Finnair flights. In addition to a ski or snowboard, the bag may contain related equipment such as poles. The maximum weight of the bag must be 23kg (50lb), with a length of up to 220cm (normally 158cm but there is an exception for skis and snowboards). Keep in mind that you only get one checked bag, so if you want to bring your boots in another bag, you’ll have to pay a small extra bag charge. There’s no need to pre-arrange your checked ski equipment unless you’re travelling in a group of 10 or more. Consider Finnair for off-the-beaten-track skiing in Finland – or even Japan, if you’re willing to splurge!
KLM defines ski or snowboard equipment as one board or pair of skis with a maximum length of 300cm, plus accompanying boots (and poles, in the case of skis). Passengers are allowed to bring one set of ski or snowboard equipment as regular check-in luggage. There is no need to reserve beforehand. Avalanche rescue backpacks may be taken as hand or checked luggage, but you must arrange this in advance by telephone. You can check the luggage rules for your specific flight here. KLM has flights from London to Geneva and Innsbruck.
Air France allows passengers to bring sports equipment weighing up to 23kg and measuring as long as 300cm. Some planes can only accommodate baggage up to 180cm long so be sure to check before boarding your flight. Ski and snowboard equipment (including skis/snowboard, boots and poles) are considered standard checked baggage and count as part of your allowance, as determined by your ticket type. The ski bag and the boot bag may be packed separately and still count as one piece of luggage. However, helmets in the cabin will be considered a piece of hand luggage. For avalanche equipment or groups of 10 or more skiers and/or snowboarders, contact customer service at least 48 hours prior to the flight.
Born and raised in the ski paradise of Vancouver, Canada, I learned to ski before I can remember, balancing precariously on my parents’ skis as they sailed down the hill. I started snowboarding in my teens and am now delighted to be exploring everything Europe’s ski scene has to offer!
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