Flying with Boards- A travel report (DON"T FLY ATA AIRLINES!!!!)

Just finished a long trip back to the US after living in New Zealand for the past 2 years, involving 2 international and 1 long-distance flight while traveling with my boards. We travelled from NZ to Australia, Australia to Hawaii, and Hawaii to the US. I had 3 boards packed into a Dakine world traveler bag, the one with wheels. All up it was about 7’5" long and weighed 30kg (about 65 pounds), due to extra padding, etc. First flight to Oz was with Jetstar, they let me send my boardbag for free as long as it was one of my 2 pieces of luggage and weighed under 32kg. They were also super friendly and helpful. Flight from Oz to Hawaii (Honolulu) was also Jetstar, same deal as before, they were also really helpful and cool. However the flight from Honolulu to the mainland was a different story entirely-we were with ATA airlines and they wanted to charge me $50 PER BOARD, even though they were all in ONE bag and packed as a unit. I was able to convince them that there were only 2 boards in there, fortunately they didn’t open it but I still got stuck paying $100 for my bag, and they were also pretty rude and unpleasant to deal with. I can’t understand how a company that flies regularly to and from Hawaii can make it so difficult to carry surfboards and also charge per board rather than per piece. I can understand paying a little extra for a long and heavy piece of luggage, but to charge for each board is just ridiculous. It’s like being charged for each shirt you have packed in your luggage! Also, the flight with ATA was the only one where I had any damage to my boards, even being double-padded and well insulated I still ended up with a cracked fin so they had to be abusing my stuff. Long story short, if you’re travelling with boards DON’T go with ATA, they may have some cheaper tickets but it’s not worth it!

You got off easy… I flew ATA a couple years ago from SF to Oahu when I had to shlep 16 boards. I stuck them into four quad coffin bags, thinking they’d charge per bag (like most other carriers do). They ended up charging me $75 per board, and they checked each bag to count them = $1,200.


You got off easy… I flew ATA a couple years ago from SF to Oahu when I had to shlep 16 boards. I stuck them into four quad coffin bags, thinking they’d charge per bag (like most other carriers do). They ended up charging me $75 per board, and they checked each bag to count them = $1,200.

that’s insanity…i’d have thrown a shit fit!

It always amazes me when I see threads on this subject. I have been flying to and from Maui to LAX and SFO four or five times every year often with boards for several years now and fifty dollars per board one way has always been standard ATA policy. I have also flown other airlines (Hawaiian, Aloha and United) and they usually charge more (sixty to ninety). Once flying out of LAX a “local brudda” told me today was my lucky day; not only was he not going to charge me for the 2nd board in my single board bag, but he wasn’t going to charge me at all. In other words; “free”. That was on ATA. It would be wise to always call the airline you are booked on and inquire about their policies in advance. This way there are no last minute suprises. ATA has fallen a long way over the last few years. They eliminated any free services such as blankets, pillows, meals and free movies except for “business class”. I used to see the same flight attendants on every flight, both Maui and Honolulu. I’ve noticed lately that all the once familiar faces are gone. Moved on to other airlines. During the “Air Pass” days ATA was one of the best for price and service. One of the few to offer “stand-by”. I heard that they were in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Don’t know if they emerged from that yet or not. They have done some serious cost cutting and that is obvious by their lack of inflight service. An influx of cash from Southwest Airlines probably kept them from going under altogether. Here’s the kicker though; They are almost always cheaper than the competition to and from Hawaii and the Mainland. I always check other airlines and if Hawaiian is only $30 or$50 more I go with them. But, I have saved thousands of dollars over the years by flying ATA. If you are expecting some kind of super inflight service (meals, movies, free board etc ) try another airline. But if you are looking for the best price on a flight to and from the Mainland fly ATA. If you know what to expect ahead of time you won’t get “testy” with airline empolyees and the situation won’t be so tense.

My gouging on ATA took place at the peak of their problems, so I’ll cut them some slack. They are still consistantly the cheapest… it’s a little like traveling on a cattle car though. They’ve dropped the “air pass”, but they now have a program that uses pre-purchased coupons. The flights require varying amounts of coupons based on the season. The coupons are good within the calendar year, and aren’t refundable if they go unused. They’re also not transferable.

The counter agents can use their discression when it comes to charging for boards. I’ve slipped through on the good graces of a friendly agent every now and then. That always gives me hope for humanity. Other times, you just know they’re not going to budge. There’s nothing you can do but pony up if you want to make the plane.

I travel between Hawaii and California a lot. When I go to Kauai i don’t generally need to take boards, since I have a stash there. There’s something liberating about getting on a plane to somewhere over 2,500 miles away with just a small carry on. I usually pack a few pairs of trunks, a few shorts, a few tees, three pairs of zoris, and one long-sleeve tee for when I get back to SF in the middle of the night. That all fits into a backpack with my laptop and some mags.

$100.00 bucks from new zealand to america with stops in between man your cheap!

I assume they charge per board becuase if there is damage, you’re going to charge them per board as well, right? So from there position two boards in a bag means twice the risk so they charge twice the fee.

There are lots of airlines that charge as much, or more. Here is a listing that I found with a 10 second google search; it is not 100% accurate/current but it gives some idea of what’s out there. I’ve seen similar lists before and I always call the airlines I’m thinking of using to check because these fees change often. At least your boards got there when you did… I have had them show up days late (always nice when on a surf trip) and/or with huge holes in them despite extreme packing.

Remember “Suntrips”? Now that was a “cattle car” What was that? Ryan Air I think. I just got over here to Calif. two weeks ago and paid $330 one way, because of summer fares. I flew Hawaiian. ATA was $30 less, but for $30 it was worth the less crowded and better seating. Plus they do serve a free inflight meal. ATA has done some rearranging of their flight schedule. The daily out of Maui has changed times and I didn’t see the “redeye” out Honolulu on their online schedule of flights the last few times I searched. I was able to get into LAX at 4:30 pm, which is early compared to 10:30 pm ATA. Two months ago though I flew into LAX on ATA for $158 each way. I came up with that price by searching and booking oneway. Every time I clicked roundtrip I came up with $600 no matter what airline. Funny how if you play around with your search you can come up with a better deal.

Howzit marabout, The problem with your thinking is the airlines makes you sign a waiver so that if the board/boards get damaged you can’t get any money from them for the damage. It’s kind of like they make you pay but they can damage the boards and you are out of luck. Hawaiian Air is infamous when it comes to damaging boards. Have actually watched the loaders just throw boards around or stack suit cases on top of them, ouch. The only way you cna get money from them is if they lose the board for 96 hrs, if that happens they have to reimbusre you for the board. Back in 91 they came with in 4 hrs of having to buy me a new board and when they finally got me my board the deck was riidled with dings.Aloha,Kokua

Well, then that’s just not fair, is it? Thanks for filling me in. I’ve only travelled with boards a few times and have gotten lucky I guess that I didn’t receive any damage.

I’m happy if my boards get damaged no more than once evey four trips. I just expect it periodically.

Don’t travel with precious boards. If you have to get them somewhere, ship them ahead of you.

Maybe I was just a bit angry at first when I first posted, but I guess that $100 from NZ to the US isn’t that bad when you put it all in context. I guess that my experiences with the other airlines spoiled me a bit. I agree %100 about checking it out before you go, however we booked our flight through Southwest and had no idea that we’d actually be flying ATA until we got to the airport so I was expecting Southwest’s policy, which is to charge by the bag instead of the board. I don’t really mind paying for sending boards along, it’s just the per board charge that really gets to me because it seems like such an unnecessary charge and just a money-making device for the airlines.

Howzit trim, For that kind of money they should handle boards with kid gloves. Aloha,Kokua