Take Your Gear to New Heights: Flying with Sports Equipment - Flightright UK

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Take Your Gear to New Heights: Flying with Sports Equipment

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Flying with sport gear
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The most important facts about “Flying with Sports Equipments”

  • Sports equipment may be carried on the plane, but regulations vary depending on the airline in terms of size, weight and type of equipment
  • The general dimensions for sports baggage are limited to a maximum length of 300 cm and a maximum weight of 32 kg, depending on the available storage space and specific airline guidelines.
  • The cost of taking sports equipment on the plane varies depending on the airline, route and travel class and can start at around €40 per piece of luggage
  • Some sports equipment, such as bicycles or golf clubs, are usually treated as special baggage and require special registration and possibly additional fees.
  • Early registration of special baggage is required and must be made up to 72 hours before departure in order to guarantee carriage.
  • Sufficient time should be allowed on arrival at the airport and the staff should be explicitly informed about the sports baggage to ensure smooth handling.
  • Alternatives to air transportation, such as courier services or freight forwarding, offer different levels of flexibility and cost structures and may be a suitable option depending on the priority.
  • In most cases, the amount of sports baggage is limited to 1 piece per person.

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For sports enthusiasts, the idea of skipping out on their favourite activities during a holiday can be quite disheartening. A vacation without sports? It can quickly become dull, especially if keeping active is a big part of your lifestyle. So, how can you easily take your sports equipment along on the plane? Let’s explore.

Planning makes perfect

Thorough preparation is key, especially when it comes to jet-setting with your sports gear. In this article, we’ll share handy tips to ensure your equipment boards the plane as smoothly as you do. From selecting the right travel gear to navigating the nuances of airline guidelines, we’ve got you covered. With these insights, you’ll be ready to tackle your next sporting adventure with ease and precision.

Can you bring sports equipment on a plane?

Yes, you can generally take sports equipment on a plane. However, it’s important to follow the specific regulations of the airline you’re flying with, as these can differ. Preparing thoroughly is especially crucial if your equipment is bulky.

Safety and Protection

Ensuring the safety of your equipment during the flight is essential. Turbulence and movement can cause damage, so it’s advisable to use stable and secure packaging specifically designed for transporting sports gear. Such packaging not only protects your equipment but also makes the logistics process easier for airport staff.

Sports equipment: standard baggage or special baggage?

For sports enthusiasts who don’t want to do without their favorite equipment when they’re on the road, a tricky question often arises: How do you transport unusual sports equipment that deviates from the norm? Special boards and rackets often do not fit into the classic suitcase and therefore require a place as special luggage. Whether it’s their impressive size or unusual shape, these sports equipment items require special handling when traveling. But don’t worry, airlines are prepared for such situations.

Dimensions and weight – How big can sports luggage be?

The classification of sports equipment as special baggage is mainly determined by its size and weight. The more unusual and bulky the gear, the more likely it will need to be checked in and stored in the aircraft’s hold. For instance, a medium-sized badminton racket is often fine as additional hand baggage with many airlines. Usually, no extra declaration is required, making online check-in a breeze.

However, surfboards or baseball bats are a different story. These items are typically not allowed in the cabin due to their size and the potential danger they could pose as weapons. As a result, they must be checked in as baggage.

When it comes to the size and weight of your luggage, most airlines have similar guidelines. Typically, the maximum length allowed is around 300 cm, and the permissible weight ranges from 20 kg to 32 kg.

Here’s a quick overview of how different sports equipment fares:

SportRelevant gearCheck-in required?
BadmintonBadminton racketno
BaseballBaseball batyes
ArcheryBow and arrowyes
CricketCricket batno
EquestrianRiding equipmentyes
GolfGolf clubsyes
HockeyHockey stickyes
Inline-SkatingInline skatesno
LacrosseLacrosse stickyes
RunningSport shoes / clothingno
Horse RidingRiding equipmentyes
Shooting sportSport rifleyes
SwimmingSwimming goggles, finsno
SailingSailing equipmentyes
SkiingSkis, Ski polesyes
DivingOxygen tankyes
TennisTennis racketno
Table tennisTable tennis racketno
GymnasticsGymnastics suitno
WindsurfingWindsurfing boardyes


Bear in mind that regulations for carrying sports gear can vary from one airline to another. If your equipment doesn’t exceed the standard free baggage allowance of around 23 kg, it’s usually carried with the rest of your luggage without any issues.

However, special rules apply for heavier items like bicycles, golf clubs, and ski or snowboard equipment. Fees for these items can depend on their weight, dimensions, flight route, and your booked travel class.

Checklist for taking sports equipment on the plane

Good preparation is like warming up before the game: essential. The following checklist is intended to provide an overview and ensure that all the necessary steps have been taken to transport special baggage without any problems.

Before booking

Find out about the general conditions for the transportation of sports equipment. Make sure to register your sports gear well in advance—preferably 24 hours before departure. Keep in mind that even with timely registration, transportation isn’t always guaranteed due to cargo hold availability.

If your journey involves multiple airlines, be aware that each airline’s costs and conditions will apply separately.

It’s a good idea to check with your travel agent or directly with the airline to see if there are special offers for sports travellers. These deals can not only save you money but also help ensure that your sports baggage arrives safely at your destination.

Costs and fees (from 40£)

When it comes to flying with sports equipment, most questions usually concern the costs, registration formalities, and transportation conditions based on the specific airline and travel class. Here are a few key points to consider:

  • Variable Costs: Fees can fluctuate depending on the airline, travel route (origin and destination), and your travel class.
  • Flat Rates: Many airlines charge flat rates for sports equipment, in addition to regular luggage fees.
  • Advance Registration Advantages: Registering your sports gear ahead of time often results in cost savings.
  • Free Allowances: Some airlines, like Lufthansa and British Airways, allow you to include sports equipment as part of the baggage allowance, typically one piece per person, free of charge.

Tip: Booking online in advance is usually more economical than paying at the check-in counter. Also, premium classes often come with a higher baggage allowance compared to Economy Class. As a final note, smaller sports equipment can often be carried as hand baggage without any extra cost.

Specific equipment guidelines

Golf clubs (golf luggage) and umbrellas

  • Usually included in the free baggage allowance and free of charge, provided the weight is not exceeded.
  • Prior registration is generally required.
  • The typical weight limit for golf equipment, including clubs, shoes and other accessories, is 23 kg (including hard case).
  • Transportation in a sturdy hard case is recommended and is mandatory for some airlines.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg – learn more
British AirwaysIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg including golf umbrella – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee with a maximum weight of 20 kg. Limit is one piece of baggage per person – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee as per the above-mentioned conditions – learn more
LufthansaAdditional fee with a maximum length of 220 cm. Pack golf equipment in one piece of baggage – learn more
RyanairAdditional fee with a maximum weight of 20 kg. Limit is one piece of baggage per person – learn more

Flying with a bike – How big can it be?

  • Bicycles can be transported, but usually for a fee. Consider these costs when planning your trip.
  • Pre-registration of your bicycle with the airline is required to avoid issues at check-in.
  • E-bikes are mostly excluded, except where the battery can be removed according to regulations to ensure safety.
  • The best way to transport your bicycle is in a bike box (widely accepted). Label the box with your contact information to quickly resolve any issues in case of loss or damage.
  • Thoroughly dismantle the bike: remove the pedals, align the handlebars parallel to the frame, and take off the tyres to prevent damage and facilitate transport.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceRegistration required 48 hours before departure. Up to 23 kg. Price varies depending on flight route. E-bikes allowed without battery – learn more
British AirwaysIncluded in the standard baggage allowance up to 23 kg and 190x95x65 cm, otherwise (additional) fees. No E-bikes allowed – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee and maximum 32 kg. Limit is 1 bicycle per person. No E-bikes allowed – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee as mentioned above. No E-bikes allowed. 1 bicycle per person – learn more
LufthansaAdditional fee with a maximum size of 280 cm (H/W/D). No E-bikes allowed. 1 bicycle per person – learn more
RyanairAdditional fee and maximum 30 kg. No E-bikes allowed. 1 bicycle per person – learn more

Diving equipment

  • Standard baggage: Diving equipment (mask, fins, suit, etc.) can be included in the free baggage allowance.
  • Oxygen tanks: Must be transported separately and may incur additional fees. They must always be empty, the valve open, and properly marked. Prior registration is required.
  • Lamps and electronics: Wherever possible, transport lamps and other electronic devices without batteries. Batteries and accumulators can then be carried separately in hand luggage. Prior notification is generally required.
  • Knives and harpoons: Different regulations may apply.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg. Oxygen tanks cost extra – learn more
British AirwaysIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee and a maximum of 20 kg as extra checked baggage – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee as per the mentioned conditions. Maximum weight 32 kg – learn more
LufthansaAdditional fee with a maximum size of 200 cm (L/W/H) – learn more
RyanairAdditional fee and a maximum of 20 kg. Limit is 1 piece of baggage per person – learn more

Ski equipment and snowboard

  • Many airlines count skis, poles and ski boots as one piece of luggage if they are packed together. Clarify this with the airline before you travel.
  • Skis and snowboards should be packed in special bags or cases to protect the edges and secure the equipment.
  • Early registration is advisable, as fees can vary and advance registration saves costs.
  • Many airlines count skis, poles and ski boots as one piece of luggage if they are packed together. Clarify this with the airline before you travel.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg and 300 cm. 1 ski boot bag and 1 ski/snowboard bag count together as 1 piece of luggage – learn more
British AirwaysIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a maximum of 23 kg and 190x75x65 cm – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee and a maximum of 20 kg. Limit is 1 piece of baggage per person – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee as per the aforementioned conditions. 1 piece of baggage for skis or snowboard plus 1 piece of baggage for shoes, helmet, and suit. Maximum weight of 32 kg – learn more
LufthansaFree in addition to the free baggage allowance with a maximum length of 200 cm. Winter sports gear can be packed in 2 separate pieces: 1 piece with a pair of skis OR a snowboard. 1 piece with a pair of poles and a pair of ski OR snowboard boots. 1 helmet – learn more
RyanairAdditional fee and a maximum of 20 kg. Limit is 1 piece of baggage per person – learn more

Flying with surfboard and kitesurfing equipment

  • Most airlines allow surfboards and kitesurf boards as bulky baggage, often for an additional charge.
  • Fees vary greatly, from free to over 100£ per route.
  • Maximum dimensions and weights for bulky baggage vary depending on the airline.
  • Prior registration of bulky baggage is usually required.
  • Special board bags or covers offer additional protection.
  • It is recommended to pad the board with bubble wrap or towels and remove the fins.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a max of 23kg and 107cm. If larger up to a max of 300cm, then an additional fee applies – learn more
British AirwaysIncluded in the standard baggage allowance with a max of 23kg and 190cm. Anything beyond incurs an additional fee – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee and max 32kg. Limit is one board per person – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee as per the above conditions. One piece of baggage for board/board plus one piece of baggage for suit – learn more
LufthansaAdditional fee with a maximum length of 315cm – learn more
RyanairAdditional fee and max 20kg. Limit is 1 piece of baggage per person – learn more

Sport shooting equipment (rifles and weapons)

Carrying sporting rifles on flights is subject to strict airline rules and regulations. Here are the most important points:

  • Early registration of up to 72 hours before the flight is often required, typically via the service hotline.
  • Additional documents may be necessary.
  • Rifles must be unloaded, packed in a sturdy, locked hard-shell case, and declared as sports baggage.
  • Rifles and ammunition can be transported in the same baggage but need to be packed in separate compartments within the same bag.
  • Rifles and ammunition must not be transported in baggage that contains other personal items.
  • Cartridges must remain in their original packaging, and all empty spaces should be filled with padding to prevent movement during the flight.
AirlineTransport policies
Air FranceAdditional fee – learn more
British AirwaysAdditional fee – learn more
easyJetAdditional fee – learn more
EurowingsAdditional fee – learn more
LufthansaAdditional fee – learn more
RyanairNot allowed – learn more

Registration and confirmation of sports baggage

Registering your sports equipment is essential to ensure it’s accepted and transported by the airline. The registration process may vary depending on the type of equipment and can typically be managed online or through the airline’s customer service. Sometimes, you might need to provide technical details or specific documentation.

Reserve your bulky or special baggage at least 24 hours before departure. This can be done at the time of booking or later, but make sure that the reservation is confirmed and approved before you travel. This confirmation acts as proof that your sports equipment is authorised for the flight.

Proper Packing of Sports Equipment

Transporting your sports equipment safely starts with proper packing. The fees and registration are important factors, but ensuring that each piece is securely packed is even more crucial.

Using specialised packaging materials helps protect sensitive items like boards and rackets from potential damage during the flight. This not only safeguards your equipment but also facilitates smooth logistics and supports overall flight safety.

Guidelines and Tips for Packing and Transporting Sports Gear

  • Follow Airline Instructions: Adhere to the packing guidelines provided by your airline; they often include useful tips.
  • Use Suitable Containers: Opt for hard-shell cases or other robust containers.
  • Interior Padding: Carefully pad the interior to protect your gear from movement and potential damage.
  • Weight Limits: Be aware of any maximum weight restrictions for sports equipment set by your airline.
  • Bulky Baggage Counter: All relevant sports gear should be handed in at the bulky baggage counter, usually located near the check-in desks.

Take time to understand the dimensions and weight restrictions of your baggage as per the airline’s guidelines. Proper packing is not only vital for the safety of your equipment but also helps in avoiding additional costs due to excess baggage.

Space constraints or specific regulations may prevent certain items from being transported. For example, sharp objects like martial arts swords are always treated as checked baggage.

Weight and size restrictions are in place not only for safety and stability during the flight but also to avoid delays and congestion during boarding.

Handling at the airport

On the day of your departure, it’s critical to allocate ample time for check-in. When you arrive at the airport, make sure to inform the staff that you have sports baggage. Typically, you’ll be directed to a specialised counter or area to prepare your equipment for transportation.

Your sports gear may undergo additional security checks. These checks are standard safety procedures and are similar to regular airport security measures. You might need to open your bags or provide details about your sports equipment. Staying cooperative and patient will make the process smoother.

Some items, like skis and snowboards, may have designated drop-off points. Remember, there could be extra charges if your equipment is considered bulky or exceeds the standard baggage weight limits.

After handing over your sports baggage, you’ll receive a transportation confirmation. Keep this document safe, as you’ll need it later.

At the destination Airport

Upon arrival at your destination, head straight to the baggage reclaim area to collect your sports equipment. If there are any delays, or if your baggage is damaged or lost, report this immediately at the airline’s counter. Make sure to have your transportation confirmation and all travel documents handy. The airline is responsible for addressing any claims for damage or loss and will guide you through the next steps.

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Possible pitfalls

Travelling with special baggage can come with its challenges. Here are some common pitfalls to be aware of:

  1. Compliance Issues: The airline may refuse to accept your special baggage if it does not meet specific packing guidelines. Safety is always the top priority, so make sure you follow the rules to the letter.
  2. Limited Storage: Occasionally, there may be no available storage space for additional or special baggage, especially if it was registered at short notice or on the day of travel.
  3. Cabin Baggage Restrictions: Sometimes sports baggage that would normally be allowed in the cabin must be checked in due to a lack of space. If not adequately padded, this can increase the risk of damage.
  4. Lack of Packaging Materials: Another common issue is the unavailability of packaging materials for last-minute packing or re-packing.

Anticipating these potential issues and preparing accordingly can help ensure a smoother travel experience with your sports equipment.

Alternatives to air transportation

Transporting sports equipment by air often comes with limitations regarding size, weight, and cost. Fortunately, there are alternative methods that offer various advantages:

  • Courier Services: These services can provide quicker and more reliable transportation, particularly for door-to-door delivery. This is especially beneficial for bulky or heavy sports equipment, as it reduces the risk of loss or damage.
  • Freight Shipping: While this option is often more economical, especially over long distances, it usually involves longer delivery times and possibly more complex collection processes.

Before choosing one of these alternatives, carefully weigh the pros and cons. Consider what matters most to you—speed, cost control, or convenience—to make the best decision.

Considering Rental Options

Sometimes, travelling without your sports equipment might be a smart choice. Many popular sports and leisure destinations are equipped with rental stations offering a wide range of well-maintained gear. This can streamline your travel plans and eliminate worries about potential damage or loss in transit.

One of the perks of renting is access to modern, state-of-the-art equipment, especially important in sports where technology plays a big role, like skiing or golf. Opting for rental gear can also be cost-effective by saving you from additional baggage fees and transportation costs.

When choosing to rent, ensure the quality and condition of the equipment. Checking reviews and getting recommendations from fellow travellers can be very helpful.

Summary for a Stress-Free Journey with Sports Equipment

To ensure a smooth trip with your sports gear, keep these key tips in mind:

  • Plan and Organise: Thorough planning and organisation are essential.
  • Early Applications: Complete the application process well in advance to secure all necessary confirmations.
  • Check Airline Rules: Review the transportation conditions specific to your airline and pack your equipment according to their guidelines.
  • Adhere to Limits: Follow weight and size specifications to avoid extra baggage fees.

Additionally, create a detailed inventory of your sports gear and keep it in your hand luggage as proof in case your baggage is lost. Consider purchasing insurance to cover any potential damage. With these steps, you can look forward to a hassle-free start to your sporting adventure.

How can Flightright help you?

Flightright is here to help you claim compensation for flight delays. We aim to make the process straightforward and stress-free. We also take into account special circumstances, such as denial of boarding due to illness or disability. Our experts leverage their extensive knowledge of EU passenger rights to secure the compensation you deserve. Visit our website to quickly check your eligibility and enforce your rights.

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