As thoughts turn to the new year, well a whole new decade too and the evenings are still dark you can be forgiven for daydreaming about flying off to warmer, sunnier climes. Or indeed flying from elsewhere in the UK to us here in Cornwall. Cornwall is beautiful in the winter and the sea is SO much quieter!
Wherever you are choosing to go on your surf trip this winter getting your board there can be an extra headache, especially with the knowledge that budget airlines are just that, budget, and anything other than breathing will cost you money.
Then there is the worry over your baby, ahem I mean your board, as we have all heard the stories of boards arriving with dings, cracks or every surfer’s nightmare… a board snapped in two 🙁
We’ve taken a look at the latest flights to and from our three nearest airports; Newquay, Exeter and Bristol to destinations near a coastline where you can catch some great winter surf. We have waded through the small-print in and around surfboard fees so you don’t have to.
First up it is Newquay and it is safe to say that the winter schedule is more about bringing you to us and our fabulous winter waves and cosy cottages. The winter flights to and from Newquay currently are:
- Dublin, Ireland – Aer Lingus
- Cork, Ireland – Aer Lingus
- Aberdeen, Scotland – Loganair
- Glasgow, Scotland – Flybe or Loganair
- Heathrow, England – Flybe
If you are a surfer in Devon or Cornwall, then Exeter may be the airport to check out if you want some guaranteed winter sun and warmer water. You can currently fly to and from:
- Tenerife, Spain – Tui
- Lanzarote, Spain – Tui
- Gran Canaria, Spain – Tui
- Faro, Portugal – Tui
The richest pickings are definitely into or out of Bristol airport as you may expect:
- Knock, Ireland – Ryanair
- Inverness, Scotland – EasyJet
- Gran Canaria, Spain – EasyJet, Tui and Ryanair
- Lanzarote, Spain – EasyJet, Tui and Ryanair
- Tenerife, Spain – EasyJet, Tui and Ryanair
- Fuerteventura, Spain – EasyJet, Tui
- Bilbao, Spain – EasyJet
- La Rochelle, France – EasyJet
- Bordeaux, France – EasyJet
- Faro, Portugal – Ryanair, EasyJet
- Lisbon, Portugal – EasyJet
- Porto, Portugal – EasyJet
From our desk-based research the fees involved seem to be priced at each way and have a ‘price when booking online’ and ‘price after’ which tends to be around £10 difference. As with all budget airlines, it is best to be prepared and book it all at the outset. Each airline states that this is “per piece of sporting equipment”, however, if you have a few boards in one bag then who’s to know.
Let’s start with the simple ones
Easyjet – Charge £45 each way when making your flight booking online and £55 each way following your flight booking or when booking at the airport. You are allowed up to 32kg which is a good amount of weight and enables you to stuff a load of your hold luggage stuff in there too! more info…
Ryanair – Charge £35/€35 Each way when making your flight booking online and £45/€45 each way following your flight booking or when booking at the airport. This is the cheaper option, however, you are only allowed up to 20kg of sporting equipment. “Any sporting item weighing over the 20 kilos allowance will be charged for the excess at the applicable excess baggage rate per kilo” more info…
Aer lingus – Charge €40 Each way when making your flight booking online and €50 each way following your flight booking or when booking at the airport. You are allowed up to 23kg More info…
Flybe – Charge £30 Each way but you are not allowed to book your board in as they just don’t know if they will have space until the time of booking in. You are allowed up to 20kg but they also have a restriction on board length of 300cm (which is just over 9’8″ if you’re a logger) more info…
Tui – Are a bit strange in that you have to book your sports equipment on by phone 60 days prior to your flight. We couldn’t find much information online, thanks TUI, so we gave them a call. They said the cost would be dependent on which airline, airport, length of flight and how many boards etc…
The cost of using a Tui airline (Which from Exeter and Bristol, we are) seems to be €65 each way. The 60 days is so that you can defo get the equipment on there. You may be able to book it after 60 days but you risk there being no space for it and so it’s not guaranteed.
Loganair – Loganair cannot accept surfboards on any kind of its aircraft!! So, no surf trips to or from Aberdeen or Glasgow from Newquay in order to hit the wave-rich coastline on Scotland. However, if you make the journey down to Cornwall then you can hire boards and if you come for a day with us then we provide all the kit and kaboodle so just bring yourselves.
What happens if the airline does damage or break your board? Well, the first thing to do is to check your board before you leave arrivals. Every time you fly. Yes, this will mean unpacking your board, but it is worth the 10 minutes.
The rules state “Receipt by the person entitled to delivery of checked baggage or cargo without complaint is ‘prima facie’ evidence that the same has been delivered in good condition and in accordance with the document of carriage.” Basically, if you pick it up, don’t check it and walk out of the baggage claim area or airport then you are screwed!
As with the costs to fly with a board the claims procedures vary a little but they all say that you must report damaged baggage at the airport straight away and make your official claim as soon as you can as some airlines state it has to be within seven days!
It is worth knowing and maybe stating to your airline if there is an issue the Montreal Convention 1999 sets out what an airline must comply with if they damage your surfboard – Every travelling surfers’ nightmare!
More details on the Montreal Convention website
Any airline is liable for damages of goods on their airlines up to the value of £1184.59 (current at 1635 on the 12th of Dec 2019).
How to pack your surfboard
So how do you ensure you don’t have to crack open the Montreal Convention in the airport? Well ultimately if you spent 15 minutes packing your board well then you should improve your chances.
Before we even start with the practical packing the three things you need to do is check your airline policy on weight and length of sports luggage. No point packing your surfboard like a mummy with all the bubble wrap and packaging to find it is too heavy when you check-in. Secondly, check your travel insurance. Yes, you should be covered by the airline, but it is good to know you are protected just in case it is you who dings a board, or your airline gets shady. Finally, get everything in writing if you have contacted an airline to confirm the weight or length of board you can take. Print those emails and take with your boarding passes just in case you get a Mr Happy on the check-in desk.
- Work out what boards you need, no really need, you can’t afford to take all your boards financially or emotionally!
- Make sure your bag is fit for purpose, no rips and tears and all the zips work properly. Don’t borrow a bag that is too big for the boards you are taking.
- Pop to the DIY store for some duct tape, foam pipe protector and some bubble wrap
- Remove all fins or pack polystyrene blocks around fixed fins.
- If you are going somewhere hot, then take a leaf out of Mr Miyagi’s book and “Wax Off”. You don’t want to start the holiday with wax all over your stuff.
- Remove all leashes – you’ll be amazed how much they move around in a turbulent plane and pressure could cause them to make a ding in your board.
- Wrap your board in bubble wrap, use the foam pipe protector on the rails and nose of your board – taping to the bubble wrap and then put a day bag or board sock over.
- If you’re carrying more than one board then pack the heaviest and longest on the bottom, wax side up.
- Always pack the same direction, don’t pack nose to tail if you have more than one board.
- Layer your towels, boardies and rash vests between your board layers – this will also keep your luggage weight down.
- Don’t forget to pack the duct tape in your luggage, a zip may go, or you may snag the fabric of your bag so duct tape could be a lifesaver.
- Pack heavier things like fins and wetsuits at the base or wheels if you have a coffin bag. Let gravity do its thing.
- Now weigh it. It may sound like a faff, but it could save you hundreds of pounds!
- Next, stick on ALL THE STICKERS – HEAVY… THIS WAY UP… FRAGILE… go to town on it.
- Finally, take pictures of your finished work, no not to brag to your mates on the plane but just in case it is needed in evidence for any claim. You’ll be able to prove how well your kit was packed.
That’s it – you are ready to go! Have fun and don’t forget to tag us in any pictures.