Airline-by-airline details:

Aer Lingus
Year: 2001
Route: Ireland to Birmingham

Under 23kg total weight at no extra cost. (Martin Duffy)

Aeroflot
Year: 1995, 2000
Route: London to Nepal

I flew two boats with Aeroflot to Nepal in 95, and they cost me £80 each, outbound, and half that back. This was arranged in advance, but was in addition to my normal luggage allowance, and compared with hiring  a boat for 3 months worked out very cheap.  (Simon Wiles)

I rang aeroflot when trying to book a flight to Nepal for Oct 2000 and asked about arranging for my boat to be taken. They immediately gave me another number to ring (still Aeroflot,) who said I would have to pay for an extra 7.5 Kgs @ 8.50UKP per Kg. I think this would mean that my boat would be taken in addition to the normal baggage limit. This sounds quite good as their flight is about 130UKP less than most others. Will let you know what happens if I manage to book through them. (Colin Curwen)

Aerolineas Argentinas
Year: 2005
Route: Gatwick to Santiago (via Madrid and Beunos Aires)

Turned up at gatwick with the dagger ego, paddles and a bag, a good 3 hours in advance of my flight, and after a small amount of confusion they said that it was free so long as i was under my weight limit of 32kg. Coming back, I again turned up 3 hours before - this time they didn't even blink at the kayak - just loaded it on no questions asked. (Andrew Ramage)

Air Canada

I'm on the US Canoe Polo team and FYI Air Canada won't transport boats on domestic flights any more, I don't know if they do for international. It's a real pain for us as we go to Canada regularly and Air Canada has a near monopoly on flights. (Scott Simpson)

Air China

Year: 2004, route: Beijing - Lhasa via Chengdu
No problems with internal flights in either direction. (Poly)

Year: 2003, route: Bangkok - Amsterdam
Wanted to charge me per kg. Allowance 20....my gear:42. Damn!! No way out, and the boat needed to come. China airways no
kayakfriendly line!! (Kees van Kuipers)

Air India
Air India have been fine in the past. (Mark Rainsley)

Air New Zealand

Year: 2001 Route: leg of round the world trip
Air New Zealand took our boats with no problems whatsoever. (Mark Rainsley)

Year: 2000 Route: Japan to Christchurch
Air New Zealand took our boats with no problems whatsoever. (Poly)

Air Tahiti

Year: 2001 Route: leg of round the world trip
Air Tahiti took our boats with no problems whatsoever. (Mark Rainsley)

Air Transat

2003: No way. surf boards yes, winsurfers yes, kayaks no. When I pointed out that they have before and their sporting goods policy they said that Kayaks are out and that if someone got awaywith it they will be hassling the checking people to make sure it does work again!!! (Chris M)

Have a "sports equipment goes free" policy. (Mike Daly)

Alaska

No specific limit but an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage, their website even states that they'll check a Chrismas Tree for an extra fee (go figure!) (Gordo)

Are also kayak unfriendly but I managed to get away with it (Dan Dunlop).

Alitalia
Alitalia will always charge about £20 each way per boat. (Paul Hammond)

American Airlines

Year: 2005, route: Manchester - Equador
Just returned from a very enjoyable 2 week jaunt to Ecuador - but a word of warning it almost didn't happen. Trying to fly your kayak with American Airlines from Manchester is currently a high risk activity. Whilst queing to check my luggage which comprised one kayak which weighed less than the luggage allowance for one bag 32kg - your actually allowed 2 bags at 32 kg each plus 18kg of hand luggage - i was approached by the check in supervisor who said that she had "clocked me and my kayak earlier and that I shouldn't even think about getting on the plane with it". She then proceeded to produce a computer print out of the AA baggage policy which clearly states that kayaks are not allowed as baggage. Argued onto plane this time but American Airlines does not want our business and will not let any kayaks what so ever onto their planes in future, I guess at least from Manchester. Return leg from Equador no problems, very friendly. (James T)

Year 2003, route: London Heathrow - Chicago + LHR - Ottawa
FWIW, I've just flown with American airlines and they didn't have a problem with  my kayak.
I flew Heathrow to Chicago, Chicago to Albany (June 12th 2003)- No Charge. My girlfriend was charged £100 for her kayak from Heathrow to Ottawa (Sept 11th 2003).  We both were charged nothing from Ottawa to Heathrow on the return leg (Sept  23rd 2003). (David Webster)

Year 2002, route: Miami - Quito
American Airlines carried our boats but charged 40USD from Quito to Miami. (Jay Sigbrandt)

Year: 2002, route: Portland (OR) to Quito

I just read your article on the above it was posted as a link on a local PDX  list serve here in Portland, Oregon ... and wanted to note that I've taken  my kayak on American Airlines down to S. America - both ways and had zip  problems.  It cost me $45 going down and $56 coming back, no questions  asked... I've also talked to many folks who fly back and forth to Ecuador  with boats on AA and they report that they are the BEST... so not sure why they are listed on your "unfriendly airlines" list... as that is far from  what I've heard!   (Kay Mattson)

American Airlines to Ecuador (maybe elsewhere as well).  During the busy holiday months, American invariably slaps an embargo on oversized items checked as luggage. It is intended to deter passengers from shopping for refrigerators and televisions in the states and bringing them home for the holidays. This year AA had the embargo in effect from Dec 1 through Jan 6th and it applied to excess or overweight baggage and boxes. Curiously, it did not include sporting goods.  While they did not have a category for kayaks, skis (paddles in my mind), surfboards and windsurfers (also known as kayaks to me) were allowed - for an additional fee. (Jay Kenney)

Year: 2001, route: Washington DC to Quito

I had no problems at all flying my boat round trip from DC to Quito, Ecuador. I strongly suggest a canvas bag with enough shrink wrap on it to deter the average employee from casually searching the bag. I put signs under the plastic proclaiming "Please Handle with Care- Custom Surfing Equipment". Before you arrive at the airport, call well in advance, several times, to confirm the price for flying surfing equipment ($35 one way for American) at their customer service 1-800 number. Each time you call have them look up your information for that flight. These Customer service reps can put a note about your conversation. this information will pop up with your seat assignment the day of the flight. Be sure to jot down the name, rank, date, and serial number of the reps(at least three) you talk to and shoot for a confirmation from a customer service supervisor. When you show up with your ridiculously large package, they will bring up your info and see how many times you have confirmed the situation and will immediately charge you the $35 and send you and your boat on your merry way. (Dave Schroeder)

Year: 2001, route: Atlanta to Costa Rica.
I wrote American trying to get someone to OK me and 5 friends flying down to Costa Rica from Atlanta and bringing our boats.  We got the run around so much i cut to the chase will a letter faxed to Dallas.  After 3 weeks I re-faxed the letter requesting a prompt response.  The said no.  Must go cargo with some bullshit explanation. (Jim Leutenegger).

Year: 2001, route: Raleigh, NC to Alaska.  Will only fly kayaks air cargo. (Jon Shavor)
Year: 2001, route: London to San Francisco. Were trying to charge $220 to fly kayaks. (Poly)
Year: 2000, route: Miami to Lima. 3 of us flew boats for free (Poly)

No baggage over 115" in length and an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage. The fee would be the same as for a surfboard (Gordo).

American Airlines recently initiated a policy of carrying kayaks with your baggage for a $75 fee. Excellent service at baggage check in and no hassels. No restrictions on size (Maury Eldridge).

Last week I went from the small airport in College Station, TX to Albuguerque, NM with my Pyrannha 280 (9'2" long).  Though the plane was relatively small, the good folks at American Airlines (American Eagle, to be precise) counted it as oversized baggage ($50); the same for the return trip.  When I tried to set up a similar arrangement with Continental, I was told that since "kayak" shows up in their computer (along with canoes and jet skis) as having to go by air freight, I could not fly out of College Station on their planes and would have to go to Houston (100 miles away) to ship it (for $70).  (Steve Daniel)

Getting to Ecuador: We [Small World] have a lot of experience with the two primary carriers there -- American and Continental. Continental maintains a  strict "no kayaks as checked luggage policy" and enforces it. American is flexible and you can usually negotiate a better price at check-in than the posted fees. Last year, Continental charged a few guests an over-sized fee for bringing back a paddle! We made a lot of noise with the customer service folk and got only a "this is our policy letter" -- the same folk who fly skis around for free all the time. Go figure. (Jay Kenney)

Avianca
Year: 2001, route: London - Madrid - Bogota - Quito
We found avianca, the national airline of columbia, who would take our boats for $75 each way but only flying from london, not manchester as we had planned. Then sept 11th happened and many flights were cancelled by the airlines so with 6 days to go we were transfered to a BA flight to madrid with avianca flying us the rest of the way. BA new nothing about our boats even though we had checked and double checked,  and we were not allowed onto our flight :-( The ground staff gadgie at heathrow managed to find another later flight to madrid, but with only 20 mins to spare, after that all went well, the boats went right the way through madrid, through bogata, to ecuador. The return was a breeze, just turn up at the airport and check in. In the end no charge either way so a result. In short avianca are the airline to go with if you want to take your boat to south america (Guy Austin)

Year: 2001, route: Columbia - Ecuador
The only flight we were unsure of was the flight from Ecuador to Columbia (Avianca, Columbian airline I think), which was not part of the RTW ticket. No worries, they just stuck the kayaks on the plane without comment. (Mark Rainsley)

Biman

Year: 2001, route: London - Kathmandu
Biman have accepted kayaks at no charge (Clive G)
Year: 1992, route: London - Kathmandu
Biman (Air Bangladesh) used to fly boats and are very competitively priced but I've no recent experience of them (Poly).

British Airways

Year: 2004, route: London to Auckland via LA
1 bag under 32kg, 1 boat packed in the back only, under 32kg, 1 paddle. Checked in OK, The guy on checkin tried to claim that he should charge me excess baggage but was letting me off. The despite the boat being on my ticket. Warning: problems with this route due to American immigration requirements at LA. Don't believe speel about not having to collect your boat and carry it around in LA. (Tom Woodhead)

Year: 2004, route: London to New York.
BA allowed the kayaks without comment, as always. (Mark Rainsley)

Year: 2004, route: London to Costa Rica.
BA allowed the kayaks without comment. I took two! They checked they were within limit (under 32 kilos each) but that was all.
(Mark Rainsley)

Year: 2001, route: Amsterdam-Lusaka via London
British Airways are still deserving of their place in the list of 'kayak friendly' airlines.  However, watch out if you're doing a shorter European hop, operated by one of BA's franchisees who may not be so accommodating. I took my boat from Amsterdam to Lusaka (via London) with BA a few months ago.  No problems on the Gatwick-Lusaka route, but my boat could not be taken on the Amsterdam-Gatwick route, which is operated by 'CityFlyer Express', a BA franchisee.  This was ostensibly because CityFlyer uses 'small planes' (which turns out to mean 110-seater jets) with 'no room for a surfboard'; however on calling CityFlyer I found out that they have a strict 'no boards, no boats' policy.  BA was unaware of this, I found out only
when I called CityFlyer myself to check!  Full marks to BA, which rebooked me onto the Amsterdam-Heathrow flight.  I had no problem taking my boat on the shuttle bus between LHR and LGW. (Phil Manfield)

Year: 2001, route:  London Heathrow to New York JFK

I flew with British midlands and British Airways and they didn't seem to have  any problem at all and didn't charge any extra. I had a Foreplay and my friend  had a Prozone 225, a paddle bag and another big bag. Our camping gear was in  the boats, and our clothes we had as carry on luggage. We were on a student  work visa scheme so had to fly to New York, we then got a Greyhound to Denver  and from there to Durango, CO. The bus company charged us a lot, about $200  each. We weren't anticipating this, well we were hoping it wouldn't happen. on the way back home I was travelling alone, and due to fly out on September  11th! Got stuck in Denver for 6 days, my boat was in a left luggage area and  the dude in charge of this place wanted to charge me $25 a day for leaving it there, even though the airport was closed off to travellers. i gave him $50 and told him take it or I would get the cops and he gave me back my boat. Phew! all in all I couldn't fault BA in any way, though we did have out boats as pieces of our allowed luggage,not extra.  regards and happy travelling. (Michael O' Donnell)

Year: 2001, route: Round the World
Sorting out a RTW Ticket. We have had mixed success with flying boats in the past, so we spent some considerable time on the phone trying to get it sorted. BA/ Qantas and Bridge The World agreed that we would be able to carry kayaks, with a massive 2 x 32 kilo weight limit due to the fact that we were flying to and from South America.

However...when our flight tickets arrived, the weight limits mentioned on the tickets bore no relation to their promises! Simon attacked the telephone with a vengeance until BtW agreed to reprint the tickets with the extra weight limit on them. Qantas then said that the kayaks would telephone with a vengeance until BtW agreed to reprint the tickets with the extra weight limit on them. Qantas then said that the kayaks would have to be charged extra after all. Simon found out that this was because they imagined fragile slalom boats for the Olympics. He eventually managed to get them to waive the charge they wanted to carry the boats in seperate cargo, and crucially, to write this on our booking details. In the event, of course they didn't put the boats in cargo...they just slung them in the hold with the other luggage...as we'd told the Qantas folk on the phone would happen. (Mark Rainsley)

Year: 2001, route: London - Uganda.
Just back from Uganda, I can report that British Airways flew our boats  with no problems. The weight limit was 23kg, which was fine with todays light boats. However the Uganda customs are impounding kayaks. Some sort of importation  bond up to 50% of the boats value must be deposited with them. We met boater,who had worked in a hospital there already, in the airport. She  managed to argue our way out of this and informed the customs officer that our boats were worth 100 US dollars. I don't know if this is a legitimate importation policy. We were lucky (Ian Thom).

Year: 2000, route: London - Delhi.
Checked beforehand and the kayak itself was no problem, provided it was within the 20kg weight limit.  No need to pack everything into the boat as you're allowed two pieces of hold luggage.  This turned out to be case at check-in also. Problems with excess baggage though - go light. (Seal)

Year: 2000, route: London - Miami. 3 of us flew boats with no problems. (Poly)

Year: 2000, route: London - San Francisco, Glasgow - Washington DC
We're going to DC via Heathrow from Glasgow with British Airways at the end of August. As advised I made the extra phonecalls to confirm that our boats are noted in our flight record. The lady was very helpful and took boat dimensions etc. They even take care of putting boats onto the new plane at Heathrow and are also taking paddles and not counting them as an official item. All for no charge as long as the weight is below 32kg. (Ian Thom).

British Airways are good too (Lisa Jacobi).

British airways took 4 boats Heathrow-San Francisco summer 2000, no problems (Poly). 

British Midland

Year: 2001 Route:Dublin to London Heathrow
I flew with British midlands and British Airways and they didn't seem to have  any problem at all and didn't charge any extra. I had a Foreplay and my friend  had a Prozone 225, a paddle bag and another big bag. Our camping gear was in  the boats, and our clothes we had as carry on luggage. (Michael O' Donnell)

Brunei

Year: 2003 Route: Bangkok - Auckland
They wanted to charge 300 us$ one-way and again for return. I left my boat in the airport for 3 months and got myself a nice
Huka at BLiss-Stick instead in NZ......far better option! (Kees van Kuipers)

Canada 3000

Canada3000 has a policy whereby they fly all sporting equipment for free. Checking in a boat full of kit, paddle and rucksack is no problem at all. They fly into Calgary and Vancouver so are ideal for a trip to the Canadian Rockies. (Ian Thom)

Canadian Airlines

2003: Canadian - No way unless you send them as cargo (Chris M)
Have bought out Canadian airlines (see above)

Canadian wanted to charge £35 but didn't at check-in. (Gwyn Ashcroft)
(this was before the merger with Air Canada - any idea of the latest policy ?)

Continental

Year: 2003: Only as cargo and at a charge (Chris M)

Thought I'd update you on some of the logistics of dealing with Continental post 9/11 attacks. I am trying to get a Big EZ to Ecuador for one of our guests. He's flying Continental. Their website now makes it clear they will not acccept kayaks as checked baggage. "Kayaks Continental Airlines will not accept kayaks as checked baggage. Continental will accept kayaks as cargo. Contact Continental Cargo at 1-800-421-2456 for details and rate information."  Look under the baggage policy tab.

When I called, I talked to a delightful woman who advised that customers must now use a freight forwarder per new FAA regulations. That means you go to some other entity who's been approved as (basically) a delivery/boxing agent for Continental. That entity in turn boxes and verifies that the kayak is what is appears to be, charges a fee for the service and then tacks on the Continental freight. The Cargo rep I talked to, hypothetically speaking, roughly guessed the cost (the freight cost only!!!) at around $825 usd). Can you say ridiculous?? (Jay Kenney)

Several people have now confirmed that Continental will not fly kayaks as checked luggage. This appears to be a departure from their policy in the early 90's. Check carefully if you use them.

All of you may also know that in USA, you cannot check your luggage from overseas through to your final destination. Next thing I know is that I need to check in for my onwards flight to Lima, Peru. It is at the Continental Airlines since they had the best connection for my part. However, they simply refused to accept the kayak. They didnt even want to send it as cargo. After trying in vain to make them understand that I had come from Malaysia and was only in transit and that I had flown with them before with no problem (also to Lima), they still refused flatly because they had supposedly changed their rules from December 1, 2000. I obviously saw my boat and paddling holiday go fast down the drain and asked them politely to make an exemption and that I would pay for it as they would normally charge (75 US$), but they were untouchable in their stand. In the end, I was recommended to try one of the other airlines, among them, United Airlines. But only after Continental had calculated the fee for taking along the kayak in case they changed their minds and made an exemption. The fee was 367 US$ one way. It is pretty appalling when you consider that the boat doesnt even cost that much and the freight to Malaysia cost less than a 100 US$ !!! In any case, I found it amazingly arrogant and a sign that Continental must be doing extremely well, since they just pass a ticket/holding customer over to their rivalling neighbour !!! United Airlines gave me a fair price of 75US$ and would gladly have accepted it, but obviously only if I was on their flight since they are not allowed to take unaccompanied luggage (which is fair enough). In the end, I had no choice but to call a storage service, who charged me 150 US$ to store the boat for the 3 weeks duration I was supposed to paddle in it in Peru !!! To make a long story short, if all of you thousands of boaters out there should ever pass by the USA or in any way get a sector with Continental, you better change to another airlines, coz you are not going to get your boat along with you. (Seal)

Their website uses the exact verbage as Delta's but when I contacted the corporate headquarters today I was given, as a reason, that kayaks exceed the dimensions of a surfboard or windsurfer. When I pointed out to the representative that that may have been true in the past but is no longer true he indicated that he would recommend that the policy be reviewed. (Gordo)

From personal experience:  I flew to Las Vegas from the UK with Continental in October for a Grand Canyon trip.  Fortunately for me, the woman I spoke to before I bought my ticket said I could take my kayak as checked luggage for a fee of $110.  She was wrong! Continental's policy is that all kayaks must go as cargo - I only got my boat on 'cos I'd specifically asked the lady for a note on my file (cheers for that tip Frazer) stating that I could take the kayak. Otherwise I'd have been buggered.  For some reason kayaks are lumped in the same category as Jet Skis?!?!? My theory is that their policy must have been formulated in the old-skool days when kayaks were mega long and a real hassle to load.  If you can convince them it's one or more surf boards you'll get away with it - but it's a big risk.  I had my kayak bagged up in a bivvy bag, but unfortunately it didn't fool anyone.  Get a proper bag and stick loads of Hawaii and O'Neill stickers on it would be my tip!!  At check-in in both directions there was some smart Alec who piped up "is that a kayak".  It's all down to who you get at the check-in desk. On the way back it was even worse.  I got a real jobsworth who was training somebody, so everything was by the book - they even went as far as giving me a print off of the policy stating "kayaks must go as cargo" (which I was already perfectly aware of by that stage!).  I ended up resorting to the "well you got it here, so you can get it home".  After standing my ground and holding the queue up for about 15 minutes I eventually persuaded the woman that I wasn't going anywhere until I'd seen her supervisor personally.  After much more wrangling and production of the outbound excess baggage ticket (they insisted on proof that they had actually brought the boat to the US) I got my boat on the plane for another $110.  Not exactly a bargin and a hell of a lot of hassle.  There was a bit of contradiction here.  On the way out with Continental I had _everything_ in the kayak which seemed to work in my favour.  At Bakersfield however they actually weighed the packed kayak at 85lb -13lb over the 72lb limit.  They actually insisted that to avoid an overweight as well as the over-length charge that (with 15 minutes to take off) I unpack everything and put it into another bag.  They were then delighted at how light the boat was with no kit in.  In future I think I'll go with minimal kit in the boat and the heaviest stuff in a second piece of hold luggage.  Morals of the story: Don't use Continental.  Wrap your boat up so it looks as little like a kayak as possible and MAKE IT EASY TO CARRY. Choose somebody at the check in who smiles when they see your "luggage", not somebody who frowns.  And definitely not somebody who says "Ooh, is that a kayak?".  But above all, ring up the airline first and insist they put a note on your file saying you have checked in advance that it's OK to take the boat. (Seal)

My experience was that Continental carries them for $75, one way, if you call them a "windsurfboard" (John William Kuthe).

Now, Continental have a policy of not taking kayaks at all. They didn't tell us this until we got to the checkout and we had checked beforehand. We had to resort to speaking to the Chairman to clear it (Daniel Hayward).

Also see "getting to Ecuador" under American airlines

Delta

Year: 2001, route: Raleigh, NC to Alaska. Need to go through air cargo.  $492 each way for 1 day service.
$246 for 3 day. (Jon Shavor)

Won't check a kayak as baggage, it must go airfreight and the cost is prohibitive (Gordo)

Were refusing kayaks to California from Heathrow summer 1999 (Poly). Delta is probably one of the worse. Very profit minded and have never been easy to deal with (Lisa Jacobi). I don't know Delta's policies but in their defense a friend of mine recently shipped a kayak from Salt Lake City, Utah to Knoxville, Tennessee via Delta air cargo. It arrived in one day for $62 (Philip Young).

Easy Jet

Lots of people have had success flying boats with Easyjet - trick seems to be not taking the piss. Go light and you'll generally be ok after some negotiation.

Year: 2003, route: Liverpool - Geneva
They then just charged us XS baggage on the kayaks at £2 per kilo over 20kg.

Year: 2001, Route: Luton-Geneva
We flew from Luton to Geneva with EasyJet. Carrying the boats was no problem, but they wanted to weigh them so that they could charge excess baggage (not nice at 4:30am) Fortunately the boats hade to be 'balanced' (with a strong arm) on the scales. Each boat full of gear weighed in at about 14kg I think. Coming back then, they only wanted to see the receipt for excess baggage and didn't care about the weight. That may just have been the check in guy though. (Sean McIntyre)

Easy Jet last week said it would be up to the airport agents. I phoned the airport agents and they said yes, no problem, £25 return to Geneva. p.s. Geneva is £18 each way if you book well enough in advance (from Liverpool) (Guy Austin, Adam Sawyer)

Egypt-Air
Year: 2002, Route: London-Nairobi.
It did take a bit of chasing but before we got a fax confirming that we could fly our boats.  With this fax in hand, we had no problems what-so-ever at check-in. (Poly)

El-Al

El-Al ( Israelian Airlines) - performed as if they carry kayaks every day ( no fees, no questions, checked with Prijon "Rockit" 283 cm length) (Michael K)

Emirates Airlines
Year: 2001
Route: Birmingham - Johannesburg
We ended up getting flights on Emirates airlines. They will take our boats to Jo'burg at no cost once we don't go over the 23kg mark for all our baggage. (Martin Duffy)

Year: 1999
Route: London - Johannesburg
Two of us flew out to Johannesburg with Emirates Airlines carrying a couple of Kayaks en route to Zim last November with no problems what so ever. They explicitly stated that there would not be a charge over the phone when booking and barely looked surprised when we checked the empty boats on alongside the paddles and rucsacs. (Brian Armour)

Ethiopian Airlines

Year: 2004, Route: London - Entebbe
Shite airline, unreliable, awful service, reduced my wife to tears etc...but on the plus side, they were utterly indifferent to the kayaks. (Mark Rainsley)

Year: 2002, Route: London - Entebbe
Air Ethiopia took our boats for free and gave us no hassle about them. We were promised a 40kg luggage allowance but on the return journey we had no paperwork proving this so some official at Entebbe made us repack and squeeze as much as possible into our cabin luggage. Once repacked we were quite close to 25kg + 5kg so no charge was made. (Jay Sigbrandt)

Ethiopian airlines( a real white knuckle ride) were none too keen to take the boats out of Heathrow but eventually agreed. Funnily enough on the return journey they didn't even blink at the 25Kg ebony elephant that I took as hand luggage tucked under my arm. (Chris Sladden)

Finn Air

Finnish Airlines performed as if they carry kayaks every day ( no fees, no questions, checked with Prijon "Rockit" 283 cm length) (Michael K)

First Air
Year: 1999
Route: Montreal to Iqaluit

I recently flew from Montreal to Iqaluit and was not charged any extra for bringing the boat(Riot 007) as my second checked piece of luggage.  The fee would have been $C50 had they charged me their standard rate but from what I hear they rarely do if you show up early and with only one peice of luggage other than the boat. (Alain Dupere)

Frontier

No baggage over 70" in length (Gordo).

Go
Year: 2000
Route: Stansted to Reykjavik

July 2000 we took 6 kayaks and a bike to Iceland with Go, they have a strict 20kg limit but didn't bat an eyelid at the boats. Worst case scenario would be paying 20UKP per boat as a "sports item" (see the back of the tickets). (Poly)

Gulf Air
Route: London to Kathmandu

We flew with them from Heathrow to Kathmandu and there was *no* hassle at all with the kayak.We warned them early, turned up early and they weighed the lot. 43 kg for 2 people (i.e. 3 kg over the limit) but that was no problem either. We paid nothing for the boat, either flying there or on the return leg.  (Jay)

Iberian Airlines

Year: 2002, route: Dusseldorf - Guatemala
The guy said he had doubts it would be able to get it in the plane. I told him he had no needs to worry, as I had flown iberia before to madrid in a small plane, and it fitted in the plane then........so now again 60 euro to Guatemala. On the return no charge at all as usually! (Kees van Kuipers)

Year:2000, route: Brussels - Quito
Just 60 euro for one way from brussels to quito. Called it a surfboard, and they charge one "flatrate" for this. Very reasonably priced. (Kees van Kuipers)

Year: 1996
Route: London - Madrid
Will fly boats but grumble. (Poly)

Japanese Airlines
Year: 2000
Route: London to Christchurch

They were incredibly helpful and friendly - this was perhaps our easiest check-in yet and again no charge, they even extended our personal baggage allowance to 35kg and our file had "kayaks" noted in it - very efficient. (Poly)

Jet Air
Year: 2003
Route: Leh - Delhi

Jet air took our 3 boats free of charge with no hassle. Ignore the "no hand luggage" warnings. (Poly)

Kenyan Airlines

Kenyan are owned by KLM. We didn't realise this until we saw that the check in desks at heathrow were operated by KLM staff. We did manage to get our boats (6 of them) on the aircraft for free. This took 3 hours of careful negotiations and we were very lucky to get our boats on board, even though we had 'oversize baggage' clearly printed on our tickets. There were several occasions when I thought we wouldn't be going, and I certainly will not be flying my kayak with them again, it is not worth the risk. Having said that, on our return to the UK, the Kenyan Airlines staff at entebbe checked our boats in no problems. (Oliver Miller)

KLM

Year: 2002, route: Copenhagen-Napoli. A team mate recently tried to fly from Copenhagen to Napoli via London. KLM refused to take his boat on any account even though it was written onto his ticket. He ended up buying a new ticket at the airport and is still chasing the price of the KLM ticket 5 months down the line. (Paul Hammond)

Year: 2001, route: Mancheter-Quito
We had planned to fly to equador with klm. klm are known for their bad policy BUT we had negotiated with the Sports manager, who had agreed to take the boats. 2 months after the booking had been made klm told use they would not take our boats after all. (Guy Austin)

Avoid like the plague. They have a clearly written and non-negotiable "no kayaks" policy, simple as that. You have no chance of persuading them otherwise, unless you are willing to arrange "air cargo" (at around £300 to South America). KLM code share with Northwest Airlines  (Mark Rainsley).

See more under "Northwest Airlines"

Korean Airlines
Year: 1998
Route: London to Auckland

In 1998 we went to New Zealand and back with Korean Airlines at no charge. (Poly)

Kuwait Airways
Year: 2003, route: Frankfurt - Bangkok
I had 42 kg's and was no problem as I was allowed 35 kg. Just a smile was enough. (Kees van Kuipers)

Lachsa
Year: 1996
Route: Madrid - Santiago

Will fly boats but grumbled a lot. (Poly)

Lan Chile

Year: 2001 Route: leg of round the world trip
Lan Chile took our boats with no problems whatsoever. (Mark Rainsley)

Lufthansa

Several years ago friends took several OCs to Germany via Lufthansa, with no problems. (Kim Buttleman)

MIAT

Even MIAT (maybe I arrive tomorrow) , the Mongolian airline, took our boats for a very small price (bribe) and were far less hassle. (Chris Sladden)

Northwest Airlines

Year: 2003, route: UK to Canada. Recently quoted - eventually nearly £300 one way for the carriage of the boat. (Paul Hammond)

Year: 2001, route: Raleigh, NC to Alaska. $75 each way as checked baggage.  Still can check 2 other bags and carry on 1. (Jon Shavor) [so Northwest can be ok for internal US flights]

No specific limit but an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage (Gordo)

From the horses mouth (thanks to Steve Daniel)
It is to my understanding that Northwest will accept one kayak with  paddle as one piece of checked luggage on flights within the 50 United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. However, fiberglass kayaks are not accepted and a liability release form must be signed.  Northwest will accept kayaks for international flights as shipped airfreight only. Please contact our reservations department at 1-800-225-2525 for further information.
        Matthew Nelson
        Manager, Customer Relations
        Northwest/KLM Airlines

See also "KLM"

Qantas

Year: 2001, route: Singapore - Cairns

Did very nicely flying Qantas from Singapore to Cairns, Australia, last week (March 2001). Qantus and a couple of other carriers (BA and I can't remember who else) have early check in for all evening flights. This starts at 2pm. I took advantage and checked in about 4pm for a 10:30pm flight and I think my stuff was probably the first for the plane. There was no queue either. After a brief funny look the nice lady waved 35kg of large backpack and kayak through without any mention of excess baggage (despite my 20 Kg limit). I'm pretty sure that the super early check in with unflustered staff helped, but hurrah for Qantas anyway. By the way, after trying both methods, I definitely disagree with your advice to load the kayak with all your gear and only have one check in "bag". All the airlines I've used allow two pieces checked and the thing the baggage handlers seem to dislike most is weight, not bulk. Other info which may be of interest. Left luggage in Singapore will store kayaks for Sing$10.80/day (about UKP4.00). Local busses and taxis won't take kayaks, even if the taxi has roof bars. The roof bars all carry advertising and the drivers don't want it covered up by luggage. You can get a "maxi taxi" (sort of minibus) though which isn't too much more expensive (About Sing$30:00 - UKP12:00 to the international bus terminal). All busses I used in Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra took my boat for no extra charge, but had to stand my ground occasionally and make sure no bags got in the luggage compartment before my Disco did. On Sumatra we had to pad the minibus roof since there were few roof racks. Thai railways charged 112 Bhat (about UKP1:50) for the boat, which had to go in the luggage car (Stephen Powley).

Britsh Airways and Qantas carried loads of boats and kit for our world tour....The clincher was that as we're going through South America, and their weight limit to/ from there is 2x32kgs, they had to agree to honour this for the whole RTW trip. - see BA listing for more details (Mark Rainsley)

Qantas trashed a new carbon/kevlar polo boat on a flight to Australia (Paul Hammond)

Quatar

Year: 2001, route: London - Kathmandu
Quatar have accepted kayaks at no charge (Clive G).

Royal Air Maroc

Have been fine in the past (Mark Rainsley).

Royal Nepalese Airlines

Year: 2000, route: Kathmandu - Bangkok
At the airport I weighed in two bags at 34kg.  Initially the guy was going to give me an extra 5kg free (standard practice with most airlines I believe) but after a brief "I'm only a poor traveller" routine and some pocket rummaging to indicate I didn't have enough cash (note: no credit cards accepted at check-in) he gave me an extra 10kg and charged me US$18.  Could have been a LOT worse. (Seal)

Flying out of Delhi once with Royal Nepal airlines, I had a cunning plan. I had a red rose in my dry bag and picked a Nepalese lady with a stunning smile. If she questioned about the boat I was going to give her the rose and try and charm my way on , or at the very least give her a good laugh. However, she merely smiled , waved the boat through and wished me a safe time on the Nepali Rivers. I didn't like to give her the rose after that in case she changed her mind. These days I always make sure that the airlines will take the boats by ringing them directly and usually getting it in writing- just can't be bothered with the hassle anymore. - Chris Sladden

Ryanair

Year: 2001, route: Dublin-London
Perhaps an update for your site. During the summer I flew with Ryanair with two InaZone 230's. They told me that they now have a policy of £15 (sterling or punt the same)  per journey for each item of sporting goods, ie. Dublin - London = £15 and London - Dublin = another £15. But they will carry them no problem. Whether or not you get charged is pot luck. We nearly got away with it until the check-in girl decided to check with her colleague who informed her of the rule, no amount of arguing or trickery was going to work, we even spoke to the supervisor on duty. On the way back however we had a nice girl check us in and she only charged us for one boat, 'as long as we said nothing'.  At least they didn;t weigh the boats. (Sean McIntyre).

Year:2001, route: Luton (?) to Turin
I just called them regarding taking a kayak to Turin (to paddle the French Alps) and got a very good response. The person on the other end asked specifically if it was a playboat or not and then asked the make and Model.  I told her it was an Eskimo Quadro and she knew straight away the length and weight before I even told her !!.  She said it would be no problem and that no extra charge would be made as long as I got to the airport early (Mark Harris).

With Ryanair, I made a flight 40 mins late as they just wanted me to abandon my boat (packed with stuff) in the middle of the airport. If I had done as I was told may be it could have been tampered with, but since I had checked in, they held up the plane while looking for me and if I did go ahead, the boat would have gone on a later plane as the baggage staff took their time
to collect it. (Paul Hammond)

Singapore Airlines

Year: 2004, route: Delhi - Auckland
No charge but usual Canoe/Kayak arguments

Year: 2004, route: Christchurch - London
They did initially try to get money out of me in Christchurch, but I had been in a few weeks before and got someone to agree to let me fly it home for free (was buying out there and considered renting instead). The initially obstructive checkin lady quickly capitulated when I mentioned that there was a note on the system saying that they were expecting me, and that I shouldn't be charged.  (Tom Saffell)

Year: 2001, route: Singapore - LA

All SEA Asian airlines will check in your kayak for you free as sporting goods allowance provided it is not more than 9 feet long and that your other luggage does not exceed your normal allowance (Seal).

South African airlines

Year: 2004, route: SA to Europe

I live in South Africa and flew SAA to Europe a few times this year, each time with a kayak with lots of stuff in it and got ripped off
badly the first time (had to pay 2000 rand / 170 pounds) but the second time I kicked and screamed, did the whole student / representing SA / sports allowance thing, and they let me take it for free. Although they made me take out alot of stuff from my checked baggage and put it into my hand luggage, my hand luggage ended up being about 12 kg's...but at least I
didn't pay. (Heidi Corry)

South African Airlines wanted to charge £80 UKP per kayak from Jo'burg to Vic Falls. This is supposed to be a set charge but a bit of the scottish boys on holiday chat soon dissolved that. Checkin at Vic Falls gave no trouble as the local boys couldn't give much of a monkeys for what they put on the SAA planes but a bit of chat again smoothed things along. (Brian Armour)

SouthWest Airlines

No baggage over 112" in length and an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage. The fee would be the same as for a surfboard (Gordo).

Swiss Air

Year: 2003
Route: London Heathrow - Geneva - Delhi

Didn't even weigh the boats on the way out. A thoroughly professional outfit who gave us excellent service. No charge for the kayaks. (Poly)

Have been fine in the past (Mark Rainsley).

TAP (Air Portugal)
Year: 2002
Route: London Gatwick - Lisbon

Nine of us flew 3 boats and 6 bikes at no extra charge. They did care about weight though, but luckily that wasn't a problem. The staff were friendly and helpful but don't expect everything to arrive on time. (Poly)

Turkish Airlines
Year: 1999
Route: London - Erzurum (Turkey)

In 1999 we took 6 boats to Turkey, flying the last 2 legs (Istanbul to Ankara and then on to Erzurum) on quite small planes. Turkish Airlines were the sole carrier here and so could have been awkward but proved to be extremely helpful and very kayak friendly. No problems at all either way with the gear, no charge to the consumer. (Poly)

TWA
Year: 2000

Will not fly a kayak for any price (Jon Shavor)

No baggage over 115" in length and an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage. The fee would be the same as for a surfboard (Gordo).

United

Year: 2003: Only as cargo and at a charge (Chris M)
Year: 2001, route: London to San Francisco. Were trying to charge 70UKP to carry kayaks. (Poly)

No specific limit but an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage (Gordo)

2 paddlers emigrated to Oz at the start of June and flew United with a massive 84 kilos weight allowance on a standard ticket. Within this weight allowance they were allowed two pieces of hold luggage at no more than 32kg each (yes, that means you have up to 20kg of hand luggage sitting in the locker above your head!). United do seem to have a price for kayaks but arriving at check-in early and being within the weight allowance and stating that the kayak was one of the two allowable pieces of luggage was all it needed to get the boats on the plane. The boats were a Razor at ~2.6m and Gliss at ~2.4m. (Jim Ellis).

I think it was United that destroyed a Canadian Olympian's slalom boat en route to the Atlanta games (Paul Skoczylas).

United Airlines has been TERRIFIC when it comes to carrying slalom kayaks and canoes around the world. I whole heartedly endorse its entire staff and attitude. They are the main choice of the U.S. Slalom Team to this day. During the 1996 Olympic Games, there were a few instances of boat damage by several airlines not used to carry fiberglass crafts. However, United Airlines always comes through with reparations should a mishap occur. (Lisa Jacobi - US Olympic Team Manager - Slalom for the 96')

I've flown both United and BA over the Atlantic with no problems though I'm afraid that United gave me the best overall service (Chris Sladden).

We took our boats down to Costa Rica this past fall w/ United. Called in advance - told it would cost $45/each way. Arrived at the airport, told it would cost $70. Pissed. Made a scene. Got some airline coupons. For the return flight, agent in Costa Rica charged us something like $25. Still fired a letter to United about the mis-information I got on the phone before my trip. Got a refund for the difference in
price but w/ lots of time on the phone/writing letter. (Kay)

I'd add an endorsement of United.  They flew my 14' OC1 back to DC from Denver (for $75) after a Grand Canyon trip without much more than a slight bat-of-an-eye.  The handlers in Denver said they had so many boats through there that they had made a special baggage trailer for them.  However, they couldn't oblige for my second trip because they had changed aircraft to Airbuses, which can't carry non-containerized baggage.  (Kim Buttleman)

I also got an internal flight from Bakersfield to Las Vegas, via LA, with United.  Their standard charge is $75 per direction (doesn't matter how far or how many changes).  I managed to get away with $50 'cos the guy at check in didn't recognise it as a kayak (it was wrapped up in the bivvy bag) so they only charged for the excess length.  I was unlucky though, my friend flew out and back to the States with his RPM on United and got it on for free both ways. (Seal)

On the down side: I flew to Durnago in Colorado with them from London - going out they lost my gear for one day and coming back they lost it for 1 month. I got absolutely no help whatsover from United in trying to sort it out and have been totally put off flying with them ever again ( Dave O'Neill)

Year: 1997, route: Amsterdam to San Jose
Just 75 us$ (Kees van Kuipers)

US Air

No specific limit but an extra charge would apply for oversize baggage (Gordo).

US Air will check boats for $75US. Not much hassle at all (Leland Davis). This one may not be true anymore, better check carefully if you are flying US Air. Anyone else used them ?

Virgin

Year: 2003: They say OK to 1 bag 2m long containing surf equipment that is not a surfboard!!! and you stay under the 35kg weight limit. (Chris M)
Year: 2002, route: London to Boston. Virgin Atlantic charged us to Boston and back. Paddles went free going out, but with four less boats coming back and charging for paddles, it cost more to return. (Paul Hammond)
Year: 2001, route: London to San Francisco.  Take boats but are trying to charge 60UKP. We had a major argument with them and reduced this to around 20UKP each. Charging rates seem arbitrary but getting the boats on the plane no problem. (Poly)
Year: 1999, route: London to San Francisco. Virgin have flown boats transatlantic for nothing (Poly)
 
 



Frazer Pearce, Frazer.Pearce@nottingham.ac.uk  Apr-2005