The autumn is a great time for surfers, especially those who love to travel. With powerful swells hitting beaches all over the globe and the weather back home turning cooler, there’s every reason to book a flight and head off in search of the endless summer.
Getting there, of course, is half the fun. Travelling light – especially if you’re going to be trekking to far flung beaches - is key. Getting good travel insurance that will cover you for all events is also pretty vital. If you intend to make a few forays it may be much more cost effective to take out an annual policy. World First can even offer travel insurance specially for surfing holidays. Well worth considering!
Of course, another thing you won’t be able to do without is your surfboard. Unfortunately, packing it up and booking it onto a flight isn’t as easy as you’d think. A few years ago British Airways banned surfboards (as well as lots of other sports equipment such as windsurfers, canoes and kite boards) from all their flights. After lots of protests from surfers around the globe they gave in and lifted the ban – to a point.
British Airways will now carry surfboards on their flights as long as they are under 6’ 3” long. If you include a board bag to protect your precious stick that means you’ll be looking at a board of about 6’ long to take with you. In reality it’s a little short for most surfers, especially those who are looking for big waves to ride.
But of course, British Airways aren’t the only airline to make it hard to carry sports equipment. There are plenty of others who like to charge to carry surfboards or refuse to carry them altogether. So if you’re thinking of hitting the road this autumn, who should you travel with?
Of course it’s also worth bearing in mind what happens if your precious surfboard gets trashed in transit (the airline has a liability according to the Warsaw Convention) or you hurt yourself when you get there. So it’s always a good idea to check the small print of your travel insurance policy. If you have a single item limit on your baggage cover then it may not cover the cost of your board so it may be wise to take out an all risks extension on your household policy that will cover single precious items. Some insurers may not even cover you if you are taking part in extreme sports like surfing and are unlucky enough to hurt yourself. World First Travel Insurance policies cover 75 sports automatically, of which surfing is one. This will automatically cover you for scuba diving, bungee jumping, and banana boating if the surf is flat and you fancy trying something different!
The World First Top 8 UK surfboard carriers
Virgin Atlantic: Great ads, great fares, great baggage policies! Virgin is our no 1 carrier because they won’t charge you a penny as long as your board weighs no more than 23kg and is less than 9ft long. Longboarders – and all surfers - will love it.
BMI Baby: BMI’s little brother is the daddy when it comes to carrying your stick. Surfboards, golf clubs, skis, bicycles, musical instruments and all other bulky equipment, will be charged at £17.99/€22.00 per sector per item when booked online, and will only be carried subject to space availability on the aircraft.
Easyjet: Another budget airline offering budget prices for surfboard carriage: Each passenger is allowed a maximum hold baggage weight of 50 kgs including any sports equipment, subject to available space. £18.50 per flight when prepaid.
Air south west. Flying to Newquay for some Autumn swell? These are the people to fly with. Sporting equipment will be carried subject to space being available for a fixed fee of GBP20.00.
BMI: If you’re a surfer parading as a business type you’ll enjoy free carriage. But go cattle class and they’ll charge you a flat rate of £30 per item per flight, plus an extra £30 if it’s over 20kg.
Thomas Cook Airlines: Great deals if you’re going long haul. Thomas Cook Airlines charge surfboards and body boards at £40 for short haul or short haul plus flights and £60 for long haul for the return trip.
Ryanair: Surfing in the Emerald Isle? It’s going to cost you £40 per item per flight when booked online.
British Airways: Once the surfer’s favourite airline, BA are now operating a restrictive surfboard policy that, frankly, is of no use to anyone apart from boogie boarders. They will accept short surfboards as long as they do not exceed 6’3” and weigh more than 23kgs.
And avoid at all costs (even though they aren’t UK airlines)...
Iberia: 150 EUR per flight, regardless of the destination. Ole!
United airlines: £130 per board per flight to the USA. Yeeharr!
Delta Airlines: $200 per surfboard per flight. Ouch!