Surfboard Baggage Fees (2023) || The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Traveling with surfboards sucks! There’s just nothing fun about it, no matter how many times you do it. I mean a few extra dollars is fair enough, but forking out hundreds of dollars for a board bag, or worse still, for every board within that bag, is just a shit way to start your trip, especially if you’ve only just scraped enough money together for it in the first place. 

Over the years, I’ve spent thousands of dollars on surfboard baggage fees, but to save you from doing the same, here’s a breakdown of the world’s largest airlines and what they charge for surfboards. But so you don’t have to go through the same pain, I’ve created this guide to separate the most surfboard-friendly airlines from the ones that will sting you! 

What You Need to Know About Flying With Surfboards

Before we jump into the airlines, let’s get a few things straight. 

The Good 

So these airlines are the most surfer-friendly out there! We’re talking free boards as part of checked baggage, quality airlines with helpful staff, and generally problem-free surfboard transportation.  

American Airlines 

American Airlines have stepped their game up for surfers, after recently ditching its $150 surfboard fee. Surfboards now come as part of your checked baggage allowance as long as they weigh under 23kg. Standard checked baggage fees do apply, so you’ll need to check what baggage your fare includes when you book.   

Air New Zealand 

New Zealand’s national airline is a great choice for surfers, which is just as well, because they fly between major surf destinations across New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific. Sporting equipment (including surfboards) less than 2m (78.7”) and up to 23kg are included as a standard bag. Extra fees apply if you go overweight, so if you’re over, book this beforehand. Bags are also counted as bags, not pieces within the bag, which is always reassuring.  

Air Asia

Air Asia, although it’s what you may consider a budget airline, is pretty good when it comes to surfboards. They have a “complimentary surfboard policy” for flights to/from Australia. Their website wording states 1 surfboard up to 15kg. Bear in mind, that you’ll need to add on extra sports equipment (for a fee) for flights elsewhere in Asia.

British Airways 

British Airways is one of the most surfboard-friendly airlines out there! Their website states “If it fits in your checked baggage allowance, it’s free”. Bags must be under 190cm in length, and in a protective bag (obviously) and the site does say clothes and other items must not be in the surfboard bag. But I don’t know if this is something they check! I should also mention longboards and bigger boards need to be booked as cargo! 

Also if you’re watching this from the UK, you can get Avios (British Airways points system) by using an Amex X British Airways credit card. I use this to put my daily spending on, to build up points (and hopefully by the end of the year, I’ll have a free flight). You also get bonus sign-up points if you spend over a certain amount.  I’ll leave a link in the description where you can check that card out! 


As is a theme with many of the top Middle Eastern-based airlines, flying with Etihad as a surfer is a dream! Surfboards and other water sports equipment are included as checked baggage allowance. They must be no longer than 300cm and like all airlines, don’t accept liability for your boards. While Etihad tickets are usually more expensive, they’re a solid airline with largely stress-free surfboard travel. 


Emirates is my favorite airline in the world. You get treated well, the service is excellent and boards are classed as checked baggage. I try and fly Emirates whenever I can and have never had to pay extra for boards when traveling with them! 

Garuda Indonesia

By far the best airline in Indonesia, Garuda is the best for surfers, and while compared to many of the region’s budget airlines, traveling with Garuda is just more pleasant, and best of all, boards are free! They offer sporting equipment at no extra cost which is made clear on their website. For Economy tickets, you’ll get 30kg of free checked baggage and surfboards are included in this.


I’ve flown with KLM a few times and never had any issues. You can bring surfboards on KLM flights instead of checked luggage. Note, you’ll need to make a reservation if it’s over 107cm. But again, a great airline, With routes all over!! 

Omani Air 

I’ve never flown with Omani Air, but surfboards are considered special baggage and come as part of your checked luggage. They must adhere to standard baggage sizes though and must be carried in a “rigid case” is their official website wording. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve flown with Omani before! 


Despite Maylasia being the unluckiest airline on Earth, with missing planes and getting shot down, etc. Flying with them is pretty good. Boards come free as checked baggage, however, this can change depending on location/destination. Must be under 3m in length (118 inches). So make sure you double-check this when you book. 


As you’d expect from one of the world’s best surf destinations, boards are free as checked baggage with Australia’s top airline. I’ve flown with Qantas several times and always find it to be a great experience. Never had to pay for boards either which is epic! Officially, only accepted if enclosed in a surfboard bag and does not exceed 32kg (70lb) in weight and 277cm (109in) in length. 


Next up we have one of my favorite airlines, Qatar. I’ve flown with Qatar a bunch of times (Between Aus and UK and Indo) and never had issues. Surfboards are classed as checked baggage but must be less than 3 meters in length. Qatar is an all-around good airline, but I think rules can change depending on the location, so be sure to check this before booking!  

Royal Brunei 

I’ve never flown personally with Royal Brunei, but boards (sporting equipment come free as checked baggage, and can be a handy airline for traveling between Indo and Aus. Let me know about your experience with Royal Brunei. 

Singapore Airlines

Another top quality airline and one in which taking boards is a breeze. Singapore has routes all over, most notably between Europe and Asia. Singapore is a global hub, with flights connecting between Europe, Asia and Oceania. Surfboards are accepted as checked baggage but can’t exceed 200cm in length, 75cm in width, and 80cm in height. This is pretty standard. 

Sri Lankan 

Sri Lankan is a great airline for surfers and as one of the best Intermediate surf destinations on earth, Sri Lankan Airways make taking boards on a trip (especially if it’s your first time) nice and easy. “Surfboard equipment” is included in the free baggage allowance. A great choice if you’re heading to Sri Lanka! 

South African Airlines 

Surfboards are included in the free baggage allowance on all SAA-operated flights. (Not always on codeshare flights). Must be under 200cm.  I’ve not spent enough time in South Africa to have flown with these guys, so if you’re from there or have flown with them, please let me know what they’re like! 

Tahiti Nui

If you’re traveling to somewhere as wave-rich as Tahiti or Hawaii, then you’d expect all airlines to carry boards for free, while this isn’t the case, Tahiti Nui is one of the best and only carry boards for free in the region. With a standard maximum weight of 23kg, sports equipment (surfboards) is included in your standard baggage allowance. One or more boards can be carried in the same bag. A weight limit of 32kg and height of 250cm applies!  

Virgin Australia 

For Virgin Australia, sports equipment can be checked in as oversized baggage, but must not exceed your weight allowance. (Overweight fees apply). Your oversized item (surfboard) is included as free baggage. 

Perfect Hollow wave in Northern Nicaragua
Not a bad spot to rock upto, even after a $200 surfboard baggage fee!

The Bad 

In this category, we’ll dive into the airlines that accept surfboards and you can fly with them, but they slap on a fee. Now these fees vary, from $20-30 which is ok, up to $100+ which is annoying but tolerable as well. 

Alaska Airlines 

Alaskan Airlines takes surfboard as part of your checked baggage. While this isn’t free (baggage starts at $30 per piece) you can take your boards as part of this. So for routes and surf destinations across North America, Alaskan is a great choice. Their official airline wording states two x boards per case but not sure if they check that. The measurement requirements are: 9ft, 7in in length, and shouldn’t exceed this.


If you’re flying between North, Central, and South America, then Avianca is one of the main carriers, and with so many surf spots in this part of the world, chances are you’ll use them sooner or later. Surfboards (up to 3 per bag) come as part of your checked baggage, which you can purchase when you book.

Your board bag must be 3.7m or below. For International flights, booking surfboards costs $100, or at the airport, $120. It’s also worth noting for domestic flights (Within Ecuador, this only costs $25).

Copa Airlines 

Another Latin American airline, that has flights between Central and South America. I’ve flown with Copa a few times between Mexico, Panama, and Ecuador and found the airline ok, although it always involved paying for boards. There is a flat fee of $150 for surfboard bags (sports equipment fee) and their website states you must reserve ahead via phone. I’ve never done this the couple of times I flew with them and was always allowed on but this is something to bear in mind!

Easy Jet 

Europe is epic for cheap, fast flights, Portugal, UK, Ireland, France, and Canaries, are all top surf destinations you can fly between for under $100. Easy Jet accepts surfboards but must be within your allocated weight limit 23Kg. I’ve flown with EasyJet more times than I care to admit, and usually pay £37 for “small sports equipment” online. Make sure it’s underweight though, as if it isn’t you’ll be stung with a £12 per kilo charge, a lot if you’re a few kilos over! And they can be strict. So Easy Jet is okay, and I like to think of it as one of the better budget Euro airlines. And yeah, $45 is pretty tolerable.

Jet Star

Jetstar is Australia’s largest budget airline and for domestic flights around the country or hopping over to NZ and Indo, Jetstar is a favorite. Boards are accepted on Jetstar flights but must come under the standard dimension requirements and the weight you’re allowed is how much checked baggage you purchase on booking. Jetstar also slaps on a $25 “handling fee” for sporting equipment. So you pay for your weight and the handling fee. Check the weight prices via the link in the description. 

I recently flew with Jetstar Melbourne to Bali and they were super anal about me being a few kilos overweight, so me being my stubborn self, I threw some older clothes away rather than pay extra for them, I also wore a few items and shoved stuff in my pockets, They also weighed my hand luggage. Normally airlines give you a couple of kilos of leeway and aren’t that strict, but because of this, I’ll never fly with Jetstar again. 

Korean Airlines 

Korean Airlines take surfboards as part of checked baggage, which you still have to pay for when booking. Boards must also be 23kg under and it within the standard maximum weight requirements.


I’ve flown with LATAM a few times, around South America and their policy on surfboards is as follows. Surf equipment is allowed but must be in one bag with a maximum of three boards. LATAM is a little complicated as the price you pay for boards depends on both the origin and destination. Generally speaking, it’s around $50 each way on domestic flights and $100 on international, but be sure to check this when you book as it can change.

Ryan Air 

Another budget European airline, Ryan Air has some stupidly cheap flights across Europe. We’re talking under $10 for some places. I even flew with them from the UK to Fuerteventura for $30 once. But like all budget airlines you’ll pay for boards. 

Generally, boards cost around $55-60euro to book online. Make sure you do this online though as it gets bumped up if you do it at the airport and as always make sure it’s under your allocated weight. But if you can score a cheap flight this is one of the rare occasions where it can still work out affordably even after adding boards. For instance, a $30 flight plus $55 for boards is still pretty cheap! 


While you’ll need to purchase baggage when you book (it doesn’t come free), sporting equipment is included in this. You can purchase up to 40kg when you book. Their website states Sporting equipment such as golf clubs, surfboards, canoes, diving apparel, skis, and bicycles counts toward your pre-purchased baggage allowance.  

TAP Portugal 

TAP Air is a popular Portuguese airline with routes around Europe, so if you wanna go and surf sick waves in Portugal, chances are you’ll have flown with or have seen this airline. While the exact price you pay for boards with TAP depends on the origins and destination, booking surfboards online beforehand will cost around $ 77 USD or $83 at the airport. The wording on their website says you must also fill out a form declaring surfboards, but I’ve never had to do this. 


A South American airline with routes to some of South America’s top surf destinations. You can take boards, but you’ll need to pay for the sports equipment fee! You’ll need to buy something called the more baggage combo for $160 to take boards! But check when you book as this is one of those confusing airlines where rules change depending on location.   

Rio Brazil Surfing
Rio de Janeiro looking inviting...

The Ugly 

So in the ugly category, we’ve got THE WORST airlines to fly with surfboards. These are the airlines that will bend you over and take all your money before your trip even starts. We’re talking extortionate baggage fees and individual board counting. These airlines all suck for surfers, so put them on your blacklist! In policy wording jibberish, this is called a per piece rate, as in not per bag. 

Cathay Pacific 

Cathay Pacific sucks for surfers. I mean their website wording kinda says it all with “one water surfing board” (158 cm / 62 in of length) with a per-piece system. I’ve never flown with Cathay. But sports equipment is included as checked baggage. 

China Air 

Ideally, you never wanna be contacting an airline to mess around booking boards onto a flight beforehand, if this is a policy, I don’t want to fly with them. You want to be able to just go to the airport, and either have it booked on already, included, or at the very least it is allowed, but have to pay. 

Fiji Airways

So surfboards are allowed on Fiji Airways, but you get charged for boards depending on your origin and destination. Their website states surfboards are included in your regular baggage but bulky baggage and overweight fees are charged. I flew from LA to Melbourne with Fiji and both journeys cost $150 for boards. $300 total. Check the fees for your destination via the link in the description. Otherwise, the airline is ok. 


So Hawaiian Airlines has been slammed by traveling pros over the years and surprisingly they’re not great at accommodating surfers. For flights between the Hawaiian islands, boards will set you back $25 each way, flights to North America for $100 each way, and longer International flights, $150 each way. So yeah, not cheap, I mean just flying to Cali and back will set you back $200!! Boards also have to be 23kg (50 lbs) or are not accepted. 

An awful surf travel airline, I don’t know if they do this to take advantage of surfers in Hawaii (so many surfers and people travel to/from there) but it’s an airline I never have or never will fly with. Unless they start sorting their act out. But for now, let’s start a movement, #boycotthawaiianairlines hahaha. 

Japan Airlines 

While I love Japan and Japanese hospitality, Japan Airlines SUCK for surfers! Flying between Japan, Asia, Guam, Russia, and Oceania, boards will set you back $ 100 USD. Between Japan, Asia, the Middle East, Hawaii, The Americas, and Europe, those same boards will cost you $200!! Absurd. They also only allow two surfboards per bag. But this is an airline I’d avoid at all costs! I got stung $200 flying from Melbourne to London with Japan Airlines.


JetBlue has gone backwards for surfers, after increasing their surfboard transport fee from $50 to $100. Officially, JetBlue charges this fee per board. I’m not sure if they check this and I guess it will depend on the agent you get on the day, but shit, imagine getting stung for 3 x boards. Because of this, this is another airline I will never fly with. 

Lion Air 

For those small inter-island flights within Indo, for instance, if you’re going from Bali to Sumbawa or Lombok, you’ll probably have been on or looked at Lion flights. So while their tickets are tempting as it’s pretty cheap! They sting you for boards. 200,000IDR per surfboard and yes, this is per board, not bag, you can sometimes get away with lying and saying you have one, but sometimes they do check.

I once got caught doing this in Sumbawa! But 200k ($15) isn’t too bad, if you’ve got a few boards, it adds up both ways!! Max weight 23kg. Always seem to be stung on small Indonesian flights! For more info on flying in Indo, check out my Indonesian baggage guide. 


Lufthansa, a German airline is pretty terrible for surfers, as they charge exterminate fees for boards, which vary depending on the sizes and so this is a company I’d avoid!! Their site states you “can easily take sports equipment with you” which is all well and good until they slap you with hundreds of dollars for pleasure.

For European routes, it costs around $92, Middle Eastern, African, and Asian $115, and for long intercontinental routes, upwards of $150, $200 +. Yeah, just avoid these guys! 

Royal Air Maroc

I’ve never flown with Royal Air Maroc, but judging by their website, I never will either. For sporting equipment up to 23kg/158cm will set you back $ 180 USD. Up to 32kg and 203cm will set you back $320 and 300cm an insane $350! Insane. I never have nor will fly with these guys! But if you have please let me know if this is correct!! 

Thai Airways

So I’ve never flown with Thai Airways personally, but from the research I’ve done for this video and from what I’ve heard, they’re pretty horrific for surfboards. Their website is pretty confusing but from what I can make out, they charge either or both a weight and piece rate. So from what I can decipher from their site, surfboards of up to 2m in length are charged at a 1 x unit rate of $150. I’m not sure if this is per board or bag, but with way, I’d avoid this airline altogether! 

Wizz Air 

Wizz Air is, without a doubt, the WORST airline I’ve ever flown with. It’s a European budget airline with routes all over Europe. While the fares are attractive when you book (super low), you end up paying for both your checked baggage and sports equipment separately. 

Also, they just suck to deal with. I once had a connecting flight with them to Tel Aviv, the first of which they canceled, which meant I missed the connection (for which they weren’t liable) so I had to book both flights again out of my pocket, pad $60 for boards on both flights and a change fee. On the way back, they also lost my boards, (which I needed for another trip the day after) and there was no one from the company I could contact. Avoid at all costs! I’ll die before I fly with Wizz Air again! 

Final Words 

So, that concludes our surfboard-friendly airline guide and I hope you’ve found it super helpful. The research I did for this video has certainly helped make things clearer in my head about who to choose and who to avoid. Please let me know of any lesser-known airlines that I haven’t included and let’s make this the best resource on the web for surfboard baggage policies! Also, I want to hear your worst surfboard baggage stories so please tell down in the comments. 

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