It’s summer and for many surfers that means a trip to chase some solid surf. But, the with the recent onslaught of media coverage when American Airlines broke 4 out of 5 of Alex Gray’s boards, you may be wondering how you can get your boards to your destination in one piece? And, why pay those extra board fees if airlines won’t stand behind protecting your belongings?

Alex was flying with a coffin bag full of boards. If you travel with surfboards often, it’s more than likely that some careless baggage handler has damaged one. Unfortunately most surfers have felt the pain of receiving your board bags back from an airlines with punctures, creases, and/or minor dings. But when Alex Gray opened his bag after a flight from Hawaii to LA, the damage he experienced was extensive. But this is not the first time a pro’s board have been damaged. From John John Florence JetBlue incident in 2016 to the  Kelly Slater vs Hawaiian Air showdown, surfers have been dealing with this baggage abuse for years. Let’s be a voice to help change these unjustified board fees when traveling.


unjustified board fees


Alex posted a video to his Instagram saying:

Last night on April 7th from Honolulu to Los Angeles, @americanair flight AA 284 BROKE 4 out of 5 of my surfboards. When the board bag came off the oversize belt I notice the top and bottom had very large holes in it. From the back hole in plain sight I could see two tails of my boards bent in half sticking out of the bag. I walked over to make a claim. Upon actually opening the bag (the video you’re watching above), each board I pulled out had either a tail or nose broken. The final board on the bottom was completely broken in half from the middle of the board. I’m sure many of you at this point of my post are saying: “this has happened to me before”. That’s the saddest part.

Time and time again we pay $150 or more for our surfboard bags only to have our boards ruined at the destination. And you know that little signature you give on the bag tag? That’s a signature releasing the airlines of any liability to damages that may occur. Hmmmmm.

My question on this one is how did they do such a fantastic job of destruction? First thought is the baggage handlers ran it over with some vehicle because the nose and tails are all broken in the same spot. But why is only one broken in half from the middle of the board, while the rest are broken at the nose and tail? Did they open my bag, break that board, and put it back in? I had buckled both straps inside the back which locks the boards down and they were unbuckled. So that makes me believe they went into my bag.

I’ll let you put your two cents in with comments below please. It would be great if #AmericanAirlines would review the security videos while my bag was either being loaded or unloaded on the plane. If there’s anyone that follows me who works for #AmericanAirlines maybe you can get this video to the right colleague…. So now what? Well I’ve been instructed by #AmericanAirlines to make a claim of value for the boards they broke. And in return they will do their best to compensate me for my loss. #moral

If the surf community bands together and starts speaking up, we can make a difference and help change unjustified board fees.

Head to American Airlines Facebook and Instagram to tell them how you feel about Alex Gray’s boards or visit those higher priced airlines to start asking questions of a public platform. If we speak up, they can not keep ignoring the need for fair prices and policies for surfers.

Let’s hear your stories in the comments section below.



So, how can you protect your boards when traveling?

Surfers generally pay more than any other person with oversized baggage. And, these added baggage fees do nothing to insure the safety of your board. The extra board baggage fees suck and on top of the extra baggage fees, most airlines do not take responsibility once they damage one. Travel insurance is a must have to protect damaged luggage. It is inexpensive and readily available. There are many companies to consider but read fine print to make sure your surfboards are covered. Also, although you will get reimbursed, do not plan on having a board to use right after the damage happens. Reimbursement can take some time and often requires a bit of a fight.

The Cost

We did some research and found out what airlines are currently charging and their corporate policies on surfboards. Help us to keep this updated by sharing any difference in fees you see in your travels.

Boards Fly FREE

There are a few airlines known to include a surfboard as part of your regular bag allowance. Sometimes the flight can be a little more on these carriers but saving the extra board bag fee can more than make up for this.

  1. KLM
  2. Virgin (Europe)
  3. Interjet (Mexico)
  4. Qantas (Australia)
  5. South Africa 
  6. Air New Zealand
  7. Singapore

Over $100 Each Way

These airlines charge over $100 each way but typically allow things like golf clubs to fly free. So why would boards cost more? Maybe we should all start asking questions.

  1. American
  2. Continental
  3. Hawaii Air
  4. Avianca
  5. TACA
  6. United

Over $150 Each Way

These airlines typically are in the practice of highway robbery, charging over $150 each way to travel with a board. And, sometimes this charge is per board. Ouch!

  1. Delta
  2. Iberia
  3. Japan Air
  4. Lufthansa
  5. US Air
  6. Northwest

airline surfboard fee guideOverly Priced Carriers

The carriers below are known to charge hundred to carry your boards. Be on the lookout when traveling with these airlines.

  1. Alitalia (Currently charges $260 each way)
  2. Emirates (Currently charges $300 each way)
  3. Swiss Air (Currently charges $250 each way)
  4. Thai Air (Currently charges $150 per board)
  5. United (Currently charges $200 each way)
  6. All Nippon (Currently charges $300 each way)
  7. Qatar (Currently charges up to $1750 each way)

Read the complete Surfboard Fee Guide Here

Airlines Surfboard Fee