Flying equipment: compare costs

8th December 2009, by Chris Gill



We’ve been ranting about the ridiculous costs that some airlines now impose to carry winter sports equipment – and where they don’t, about the baggage allowances and other excess charges. And the differences can vary hugely.

The Airport Parking and Hotels group (APH) has put together a ski equipment allowances chart, listing 18 airlines against their relevant charges and weight restrictions for 2009 and for last winter – so that skiers and boarders know what to expect at the present time, and are aware that some scheduled airlines can actually offer better value.

The comparisons also show relatively little change among long haul / US airlines – only Virgin seems to have reduced their baggage allowance markedly, to fall in line with most other carriers.

The highest fees for ski equipment come from the budget airlines. Some of these prices have more than doubled for 2009: Ryanair has increased its equipment charges from £20.50 to £50 per item, per flight (at the airport), which is reportedly more than a week’s ski rental in Alpe d’Huez! 

The Scandinavian airline SAS used to include ski equipment in the economy luggage allowance, but now there is a charge of £18 per item, per flight. And their baggage allowance has been reduced from 20kg to 15kg. Excess baggage costs vary enormously too and can result in fees as high as £70 with Air France and £66 with Alitalia.

So your best choices?

Well, Swiss International carries equipment free of charge and in addition to the baggage allowance, as does Air Canada. Spanish airline Iberia might be worth a look if you plan to head for the Pyrenees – equipment incurs no extra fee, although it is included in the 23kg baggage allowance.
And budget carrier has been offering free carriage to clients who book flights with them from now until April (check their site for the latest updates).

Other ways to save

On balance, paying £100 to take a pair of skis on holiday when you can hire a perfectly top-notch pair in resort may not be worth the effort (not to mention the dent in the wallet). But if you do take your own, it is worth looking at all the options. New company is now offering an ‘economy’ package for a hassle-free way to transport them, for example.

For the full chart go to:

Airport Parking and Hotels Ltd is one of the UK’s main booking agencies for parking and travel extras at all the country’s major airports.

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