Airline Ski Packing Advice?

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Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby qcanoe » Sun Dec 30, 2007 7:04 pm

Been skiing for 40 years but with a couple of exceptions have mostly been a stay-at-home New Englander. Last year I took my skis on a plane in an ancient but sturdy nylon bag and the airline (Southwest) said they were not liable for any damage unless skis were in a hard case. (!!??) This year I'm going to Utah with my nine-year-old and am trying to figure out how best to pack our two pair of skis. Read a rave review in one of the ski or allied mags (Outside? Skiing?) for a brand of double carrier that everyone seemed to like, but now I cannot locate the blurb. Advice? Any ideas welcome (but read notes below first). Thanks!

-q

Note 1: Am not prepared to deal with the complexity, expense, and uncertainty of pre-shipping skies to destination. Besides, although I have two pair of skis, my son doesn't, and we may need to be using them up to a few days before we leave.

Note 2: I am a bit fussy about my boards, and thus renting would only be an option for nicely tuned, fairly high-end skis. Although this is very appealing as even my "soft snow" skis are skinny (74mm waist) by western standards, I've looked into this, and people want $30 - $45 a day for these, which is way too expensive for a week - I could get a new pair on eBay for that.
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Re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby lookn4powder » Mon Dec 31, 2007 6:19 pm

qcanoe wrote:Been skiing for 40 years but with a couple of exceptions have mostly been a stay-at-home New Englander. Last year I took my skis on a plane in an ancient but sturdy nylon bag and the airline (Southwest) said they were not liable for any damage unless skis were in a hard case...


I hate the airlines' position on ski damage--but it is really little different from their approach to all other baggage, which is "damage is your problem". The explicit warning they give passengers about skis is just a sign that airlines hate the extra weight and so they hope to discourage skiers from flying with them.

For the past 20 years my wife and I have flown 2-5 round trips/year with skis in soft bags and they have never suffered damage. The bags do get roughed up with cigarette burns (from baggage handlers) and assorted minor cuts and tears. My suitcases have often faired worse.

The best double ski bag ever made was by Harrison about 15 years ago. This bag is lined by compartments into which we would pack clothing. Then the skis were strapped inside and the whole sausage was rolled together and zipped. Alas, Harrison is out of business but if you ever see one of their purple bags on ebay or such, buy it on the spot.

The second best bag we've used is from K2's line of wheeled double-ski bags. It has three lengthwise compartments for skis, poles, etc. The zippers self-repair and you can package the skis/poles with clothing, which we stuff into day-packs and then aside the skis.

Dakine seems to make good wheeled double bags too, but they seem heavier--and you should pay attention to the bag's weight now that the airlines have become very rigid about the 50 lb bag limit. Exceed it by a pound and you'll pay a penalty.

In short the key to good travel bags is relatively light weight, multiple compartments that facilitate stuffing clothing in to protect the skis, tough fabric, and self-repairing zippers are nice.

Good luck,
Jeff
When encountering a skier, turn. Same goes for a tree.
-2nd Law of Skiing
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re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby pointpeninsula » Thu Jan 03, 2008 11:54 am

Q,

Be very careful about reading your airline's policies regarding sports equipment. Last year, I traveled to South Lake Tahoe, and if memory serves, I was allowed ONE pair of skis per person without incurring the expense of overweight baggage. Airlines differ as to whether your boots and skis together represent one bag or two. In general, you cannot put clothing into those bags, either.
I personally would not check boots anyhow, as in the event of loss, I'd rather rent skis than boots.
As you have stated that you're particular about your skis, you may want to reconsider pre-shipping them.
Good luck, and have a great trip!
Tom
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re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby Lifty@50 » Fri Jan 04, 2008 9:50 am

Personally, I gave up bringing my own skis out West a couple of years ago. The airlines are too unreliable! I do leave a pair of big mountain skis with family in Jackson Hole, but if I'm going to Utah, I always demo. It's not that expensive and you can get the ski that best suits the conditions. If you are lucky enough to get a big dump while your out West, you can demo some big fat powder skis and save yourself a lot of leg burn. Call the resort before you go an get an idea of what they have and how much it will cost you. You may even be able to reserve a demo.

Have fun!
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Re: re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby dank » Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:10 am

pointpeninsula wrote:
In general, you cannot put clothing into those bags, either.

Tom


I'm thinking about making my first airline trip with skis this year as well and was just starting to think about these same questions so this is great info. How do they know whether you are packing some clothing in your ski bag? I have a bag with minimal padding and was hoping to avoid buying another bag and possibly packing some clothing in with the skis.
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re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby pointpeninsula » Fri Jan 04, 2008 11:36 am

Ahhh, travel in the post-9/11 era. Security opens bags routinely. In my home airport (Rochester, NY), they'll open them up right there on the floor in front of everyone. Better pack clean underwear.
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Re: re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby qcanoe » Sat Jan 05, 2008 11:30 am

Lifty@50 wrote:I'm going to Utah, I always demo. It's not that expensive


As I said in my post, that's an extremely appealing idea on the surface, but demos cost $35 - $40 a day. I call that VERY expensive, unless you're really shopping for new boards and the cost will go toward purchase price. That's $200 for five days' skiing. That's what I paid for my last pair of skis on eBay. You must make a lot more money or have a lot fewer non-skiing expenses than I do if you think that's "not that expensive."
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Re: re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby Geoff » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:49 pm

pointpeninsula wrote:Ahhh, travel in the post-9/11 era. Security opens bags routinely. In my home airport (Rochester, NY), they'll open them up right there on the floor in front of everyone. Better pack clean underwear.


This isn't quite accurate.

In the post-9/11 era, the TSA opens all ski bags. I stopped my former practice of wrapping my skis with clothing years ago. I don't trust the minimum wage TSA contract employees to put it back in my ski bag afterwards.

Since the TSA opens all ski bags, I also can't do my other lifetime ski bag practice of wrapping the tip and tail with duct tape. The TSA will just cut the duct tape off as they're inspecting the bag.

I have never seen the point in buying a hard case ski carrier. The airline will destroy it in a few flights. You also can't lock it unless it's with one of those useless TSA-friendly locks so you're running the risk that it will open enroute. I buy wheeled double ski bags on the cheap on eBay or from a buddy who is a High Sierra rep who runs a side business selling samples out of the back of his SUV on weekends. They implode after a couple of dozen trips but they're not much of an investment.

United just announced that they're only allowing customers to check one bag beginning May. It's $25.00 each way to check a second bag. I imagine other airlines will follow suit. It's reaching the point where it's cheaper and easier to use FEDEX.

I've never had skis trashed by an airline in my many years of travel. I suppose it happens from time to time but skis are quite durable.

I've never had an airline go after me for checking a double ski bag with two pairs of skis. I've heard stories of airlines trying to charge since their policy says 1 pair of skis.

If you are flying on a puddle jumper, you should seriously consider using FEDEX. If the flight is full and there is any kind of weather where the plane is required to carry full fuel to be able to divert to another airport, your skis may end up sitting on the ground so the aircraft meets weight & balance.
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Re: re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby lookn4powder » Tue Feb 19, 2008 11:28 am

Geoff wrote:United just announced that they're only allowing customers to check one bag beginning May. It's $25.00 each way to check a second bag.

I've never had an airline go after me for checking a double ski bag with two pairs of skis. I've heard stories of airlines trying to charge since their policy says 1 pair of skis.


Some airlines try hard to peck customers to death with surcharges. It's no surprise to me that United came up with this annoying charge, as they are also the company that got jealous of the skycaps tips and started charging $2/bag for curb side check in. For now, Southwest and others are not playing this game and might not if they see customer resistance. I intend to resist as much as is practical.

The policy will likely anger golfers even more than skiers--as I believe that the number of businessmen who play golf during their trips outnumber skiers. Until today, when buying flights, I didn't see much to prefer one airline over another. Now, United has given me a reason to avoid them. Too bad they totally dominate many routes.

Geoff wrote:I've never had an airline go after me for checking a double ski bag with two pairs of skis. I've heard stories of airlines trying to charge since their policy says 1 pair of skis.


I too have never been harassed about skis. In Reno long ago, a sky cap once questioned me on the number of pairs; he explained that some ski teams tried to check bags containing 5 pairs and weighing 100+ lb as regular baggage. Today, the metric is now rigidly 50 lb, and sky caps seem to go solely on weight now.

Jeff
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re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby berkshireskier » Tue Feb 26, 2008 9:10 am

Just got back from a trip to Utah. (I live in Massachusetts and flew from Hartford to Dallas and then from Dallas to SLC - I hate changing planes but had no choice). I was skiing with my wife and daughter. I checked two ski bags - one bag with my skis and two sets of poles and a second bag with my wife's and daughter's skis and one set of poles. I would recommend using ski straps to secure each pair of skis so the edges don't scrape against one another. I also duct taped the poles together to prevent too much moving around. The inspectors at the airport did not take the tape off the poles. I also wrapped some ski clothes (long underwear, t-necks, socks, etc.) around the skis to provide some cushioning for the skis and to free up some room in my other luggage for more clothes. They did not complain at the airport about the clothes in the ski bag. However, I think that a couple of pair of ski socks got lost when they opened the bags to inspect the skis (and I watched them open the bags) because I could not find them when I unpacked the ski bags when we got to our condo. For a ski bag, I would recommend going to Sierra Trading Post (www. sierratradingpost.com) to buy the bags. I bought a study, well-made single ski bag from High Sierra for $29.95 prior to the trip - this web site has some great ski-related items for very reasonable prices. I have to admit it scares me to ship anything via the airlines, especially when changing planes, as I think there is always a reasobable possibility of them losing or misplacing your luggage (and the airline did "lose" my ski bag on the trip back, although I got it two days later). I would recommend shipping via UPS or FedEx ahead of time, if you don't mind paying the extra cost. Also, I would definitely recommend bringing your boots and a day's worth of ski clothes on the plane with you in carry-on luggage in case the airline does misplace your luggage. It's better to rent skis rather than have to rent boots and ski clothing. It always amazes me how much stuff you have to bring on a ski trip. Being organized ahead of time does help, though.
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Re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby laurielee » Wed Feb 03, 2010 1:04 am

Which ski bags do you all use? and why? I'm head to Alaska and Banff this season and need to find a ski bag that can handle assumed abuse that the airlines can and might throw at my skis. I would hate to have damaged skis when I got to my destination. Thanks for the input
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Re: Airline Ski Packing Advice?

Postby Admin » Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:16 pm

laurielee, if you're worried about abuse go with the Sportube - I love mine and it can withstand anything that the luggage handling gorillas can toss at it:

http://www.sportube.com/
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