American Airlines just announced that with immediate effect it will start treating big sports equipment like regular checked bags, meaning that on a domestic ticket you can check your skis for just $30, waaay better than the $150 they used to charge. Also included will be surfboards and bicycles, and also music gear.
The changes are in response to customer feedback about the high costs of shipping what are, to many travelers, essential items. Last year American Airlines earned $1.2 billion from baggage charges alone, the most among U.S. carriers. Together U.S. airlines brought in a record $4.9 billion in baggage fees in 2018, according to the Department of Transportation.
Of course, there is small print. Items that are overweight will still be subject to additional charges of $100 to $200 for most routes. Also, not every bulky item will be exempt from the $150 oversize luggage fee. Hang gliders, scuba tanks and antlers will still be subject to oversize luggage charges. So leave those antlers at home…
Last year rival United Airlines brought fees to travel with surfboards to and from California in line with the price of a first checked bag: $30.