American Airlines Sports Equipment Policy
American Airlines plane – AlfredGF (pexels)

Are you planning a trip to a destination where you can enjoy your favorite sport? Maybe to the coast for a surfing adventure or to the mountains for skiing? No matter what activity you’re traveling for, you should be aware of sports equipment policies from major airlines so you won’t have issues before you even arrive at your destination. Here’s American Airlines’ policy on sports equipment.

Key Takeaway
Your sports equipment can have a maximum weight of 70 lbs (31.8kg), but a special fee of $150 will apply. Most equipment should weigh less than 50 lbs (22.7kg) for standard fees between $30 and $150. The dimensions should not exceed 126 linear inches (320cm).

The fees that you will encounter can change depending on what kind of equipment you’re traveling with, so read on for more information on potential costs and restrictions on sports equipment.

Types of Sports Equipment

It’s important to note that not all sports equipment is considered equal on American Airlines flights. You won’t be charged the same fees for all types of equipment, even if the weight and linear size are similar.

For example, a surfboard will cost the standard fee of $30 if it’s your first checked bag. However, bringing a hang glider will cost you a flat rate of $150.

Here are the listed items that you will be charged the $150 rate for:

  • Antlers
  • Hang gliders
  • Scuba gear, including tanks
  • Windsurf gear

Most other sports equipment within the size restrictions will cost you the standard checked baggage fees.

Weight Regulations

The standard weight of checked bags is 50 lbs (22.7kg). The same regulations apply to sports equipment. As long as you don’t go over this weight, you will pay standard prices. These prices will depend on if the bag is your first, second, or higher piece of luggage. More on American Airlines’ pricing soon.

If you really need to go over the 50 lbs (22.7kg) limit, you can. The maximum weight is 70 lbs (31.8kg). You will need to pay a standard overweight fee ($150). It doesn’t matter if the bag is 51 lbs (23.1kg) or 70 lbs, the cost will be the same.

You can check more on this in our article on American Airlines baggage’s policy.

Linear Dimensions

The weight of your sports equipment isn’t the only thing you need to worry about. The linear dimensions are also important. You need to add the height, length, and width (H+L+W) of your baggage to get the linear dimensions.

On American Airlines, the maximum dimensions for checked baggage are 126 linear inches (320cm). To give you an idea, professional surfboards can be around this size.

Pricing Information

Taking one or more bags will increase your expenses. Within the U.S. on a basic economy ticket, you’ll pay $30 for your first bag and $40 for your second. Most sports equipment is included within these pricing regulations.

However, remember that the weight, size, and type of gear will make a difference. Another factor that will influence the overall cost is where you are flying to and from. For example, your first checked bag on a flight within the U.S. will cost $30, but on a flight from the U.S. to Europe, it will cost $75.

If you were hoping to bring some sports equipment along for free, you’ll have to stick to small items. The only free pieces of luggage are cabin suitcases and small personal bags. This means that only you’ll probably only be able to bring golf balls, hockey pucks, or other small and unrestricted items.

If you’re a US military personnel, you’re eligible for discounts on checked bags. Check it out if it’s relevant to you.

Checking In Sports Equipment

Not all sports equipment will be checked in at the same place. This will depend on the size of your gear. Smaller bags containing baseball bats, hockey equipment, or golf clubs, for example, can be dropped off at the ticket counter or curbside check-in. Larger items, like surfboards and bicycles, will need to be dropped off at the oversized baggage area.

You can confirm the drop-off points at the ticket counter. You’ll need to get a tag for your equipment before checking it in anyway, and the American Airlines staff will tell you if you need to continue on to the oversized baggage area or not.

What happens if my sports gear is damaged in transit?

American Airlines specifically state that they aren’t liable for damage to any sports equipment that isn’t packed in a hard case. You will also need to show that the case is visibly damaged on the outside. If the contents have suffered damage but the case hasn’t, the airline can claim that the equipment was already damaged before the flight.

Golf Bag Policy

Many travelers wonder about golf bags and what they can bring in them. American Airlines have a specific policy on the gear that you can pack in your golf bag. Here’s a list of items that are acceptable:

  • Golf clubs
  • Golf tees
  • Golf balls
  • 1 pair of golf shoes

You can’t add other luggage to your golf bag like, for example, clothes, towels, extra shoes, and more. However, it’s rare that airline staff will actually check your golf bag before it’s checked in. For more information, take a look at our article on flying with golf clubs on American Airlines.

Snowboard and Ski Bag Policy in American Airlines

If you’re traveling with snowboards or skis, you can bring more equipment for the price of one bag. This includes ski or snowboard boots and a helmet or life preserver (for waterboards and skis).

To be clear, you can bring 1 item each from these 3 categories and it will be counted as one checked item:

  1. [One pair of skis + poles] or [one snowboard]
  2. [One pair of skis boots/bindings] or [One snowboard boots/bindings]
  3. One helmet or life preserver

Ski Bag Cost and Rules

  • Standard checked bag fees applied
  • If the combined weight of all your items exceeds 50 lbs, they will be charged as 2 separate items
  • If the equipment bag alone exceeds 50 lbs and 62 inches in length, it will be charged as a separate checked bag with standard oversize and overweight fees applied.

Bike Policy in American Airlines

You can bring one non-motorized bike. It can be touring, mountain, tandem, or racing. Requirements:

  • Kept in a hard-sided case or bicycle bag
  • Handlebars fixed sideways
  • Pedals removed or wrapped in plastic foam or similar material.

Bike Cost and Rules

  • Standard checked bag fee applied if it’s less than 50 lbs and 126 linear inches.
  • Standard overweight fee of $150 is applied if it weighs more than 50 lbs (up to 70 lbs)

Surfboard and other Watersports Boards Policy

Surfboard and various other watersports boards (without mast) share the same policy:

  • Multiple boards can be packed into one bag/case, it will be counted as 1 checked item
  • Keels, kedges, and fins must be removed or covered so as not to damage other bags.

Surfboard Cost and Rules

  • Standard checked bag fee applied if it’s less than 50 lbs and 126 linear inches.
  • Standard overweight fee of $150 is applied if it weighs more than 50 lbs (up to 70 lbs)

Skateboard Fees

You can bring one skateboard with the following rules:

  • Standard checked bag fee applied if it’s less than 50 lbs and 126 linear inches.
  • Standard overweight fee of $150 is applied if it weighs more than 50 lbs (up to 70 lbs)

Hockey, Lacrosse, and Cricket Equipment Policy

You can bring 1 case containing your hockey/cricket/lacrosse sticks + 1 equipment bag. These will count as 1 checked item.

Hockey Equipment Fees and Rules

  • Standard checked bag fees applied
  • If the combined weight of all your items exceeds 50 lbs, they will be charged as 2 separate items
  • If the equipment bag alone exceeds 50 lbs and 62 inches in length, it will be charged as a separate checked bag with standard oversize and overweight fees applied.

Looking for another option with more leeway on maximum weight? Try United. Check out the details here: United Airlines sports equipment policy.

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