If you found this page, chances are that you need some change from your local scenery and are planning an archery trip that involves air travel.
While it’s fairly easy to get your archery equipment to your destination if you are traveling by car, things get more difficult – considering that a bow and an arrow are essentially a weapon – when doing so by public transportation, especially by plane.
As such, I decided to take a look at the issue and report back to you. Keep on reading to learn more about what the best bow cases for air travel are (sneak preview – my favorite’s the Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case), how to pack your bows, arrows, and other equipment before heading to the airport, and what the airline rules are when flying with archery equipment.
4 Best Bow Cases for (Not Only) Air Travel
Before talking about how to get packed an so on, let’s take a look at what some of the best bow cases suitable for air travel are since having one is essential if you want to travel with your archery gear by plane.
The list below is in no particular order, and the best one for you will depend on your preferences about things such as budget, size, brand, and so on.
Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case
If you want the best quality, you should definitely go for the Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case which, being manufactured by the leading maker of protective hard cases, is perfect for protecting even the most expensive bows.
The case is made from resin that is very difficult to break and lined with high-density foam to further protect your archery equipment from shocks. Not only that, but it is also dust-proof and watertight so it can be used even in harsher conditions.
Besides the main compartment for your bow and arrow holders, the case is also equipped with a number of pockets and pouches that you can use to organize your accessories.
This Pelican bow case measures 47.3 x 19.4 x 9.1 inches on the outside and so you will have no problem checking it in. On the inside, it’s 44.0 x 16.8 x 7.9 inches. The empty case weighs 23.15 pounds, making it the lightest bow case in this list.
One last thing to note is the fact that it’s equipped with six latches two of which are lockable. The locks are, of course, TSA-approved.
Case Club Parallel Limb Compound Bow Case
The Case Club Parallel Limb Compound Bow Case is another airline-approved bow case that is worth checking out if you plan to fly with your equipment.
It is a simple waterproof and air-tight hard case padded with foam that can fit a bow that’s up to 40 inches long and 13.75 inches wide. On top of that, it can fit up to 12 arrows. Besides being well-padded by foam, it also features silica gel to absorb moisture.
While the case comes with a small accessory box, it will not fit much beyond the bow and arrows. As for its external dimensions, this Case Club bow case is about 47 inches long, 17 inches wide, and 7 inches tall.
The one downside of this case is the fact that unlike the Pelican case above, it does not have integrated locks. It can easily be locked using padlocks, though. You can see some of the best TSA-approved ones in my guide here.
SKB iSeries Ultimate Bow Case
The SKB iSeries Ultimate Bow Case is another great option to consider – especially if you are thinking of taking multiple bows with you.
It features a modular design where you can either carry two bows in it (one up to 46 inches long and the other one up to 44 inches) or a single bow with accessories.
The accessory tray includes a number of compartments where you can store binoculars and so on, as well as up to 12 bows. In case you plan to be carrying two bows, then you should consider getting a sturdy arrow case such as this one from MTM.
Just like the previous two cases, this one is water- and dust-sealed as well, and it features wheels for easier transport. The two downsides of the case are its heavier weight (more than 30 pounds) and lack of locks. The latter can be easily solved by getting a couple of TSA-approved padlocks.
Legend Archery Hybrid Everest Roller Bow Case
Unlike the previous three cases on this list, the Legend Archery Hybrid Everest Roller Bow Case is not a hard case. As such, some airlines might not be willing to take any responsibility for your bow getting damaged.
That said, at just 15 pounds when empty, the bag is a decent option if you are looking for something lighter than a regular hard case. It’s made of 1680D nylon, and is well-padded on the inside.
The case comes in two different sizes – 40-inch and 44-inch. And, it’s available in two different colors – the pictured black and green. The case comes with a bow case, and it’s equipped with plenty of pockets that you can use to store and organize your accessories. It fits two compound bows.
How to Pack Archery Equipment for Air Travel
Before continuing, let’s take a quick look at what the TSA says about traveling with archery equipment. According to its website – and as common sense would suggest – bows and arrows can only be transported in checked luggage and cannot be carried onboard an aircraft.
As for actually packing your archery equipment before taking a flight, you will first want to get a bow case that is sturdy enough and that protects its contents well enough to withstand potentially being thrown around by the baggage handlers. If you don’t have one yet, you should consider getting one of the four mentioned earlier in this article, such as the Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case.
Keep in mind that while you will be able to find many cheap bow cases, they will in most cases not be suitable for air travel because of not being rigid enough, not being padded well enough, or similar reasons.
Now as for actually packing your equipment, it’s pretty simple, but there are a few things to keep in mind when doing the packing.
First, you will want to make sure there are no sharp items (such as knives or broadheads) exposed. Both to protect yourself from getting hurt when opening the case, but also in case the security personnel decides to search your luggage – you don’t want them to get hurt.
Second, tie down your bow within the case so that it cannot move. All of the cases that I introduced above including the Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case have tie-down straps or other mechanism to secure your bow – make sure to use them. For additional protection, you might want to pad the bag with clothes or similar if there is some space.
Finally, you will want to pack your arrows either in the dedicated compartment of your bow case. If your bow case doesn’t have a compartment for arrows, then you can get a separate bow case such as the MTM Arrow Plus Case or Plano 112700 Compact Arrow Case and put it in your suitcase.
For more details on how to pack your archery equipment before getting on a plane, check the video below.
Flying with Archery Equipment: Policies of Major Airlines
Below, I’ll write about archery equipment baggage policies of a couple of major airlines. If you can’t find your airline in the list, make sure to check the airline’s website before you head to the airport.
Also make sure to check with your airline before you travel even if you find your airline below, as sometimes airlines change their policies.
American Airlines permits travel with the following archery equipment: one bow and quiver, arrows, and a maintenance kit.
If your bow case is under 50 pounds and 126 inches (length + width + height), you will be able to use your standard luggage allowance towards your archery equipment. All of the four bow cases that I introduce above are well within the size limit – although the weight will, of course, depend on the bow you put in the case and so on.
In case your bow case ends up heavier than 50 pounds, American’s standard overweight fees will apply.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Air Lines does not specify details about the number of bows you can carry and so on. However, it makes it clear that archery equipment is only allowed in checked luggage – which is the case with all airlines given that it is a TSA rule. And, it also specifies that the equipment must be in a “durable protective container.”
Carrying a bow case in itself does not incur any special charges and instead counts towards your regular luggage allowance on Delta. Just keep in mind that if you only have one free piece of luggage, then you will have to pay extra if you will be checking in both your bow case and a regular suitcase.
Just like with the other two major US airlines, United Airlines counts archery equipment as a standard piece of luggage. As per United’s policy, a passenger can check “one item of archery equipment” consisting of a bow case with bows, a quiver with arrows, and a maintenance kit.
To carry archery equipment on a United Airlines flight, it has to be properly packaged. For understandable reasons, the airline does not take any responsibility for damage to your archery equipment in case it is not in a hard case.
If you are flying on Lufthansa, you can take archery equipment – consisting of a set of a bow and arrows packed in “a durable and protective container” with you.
Unlike the American airlines, Lufthansa does not count sports luggage including archery equipment as regular luggage. Instead, it requires a payment of a special sports equipment fee which ranges anywhere from 80 USD to almost 300 USD depending on the route you are flying on.
While traveling with archery equipment might seem like a challenge at first, with a proper bow case, you generally don’t have to worry about your bow getting damaged.
There are many bow cases on the market, but remember that not all of them – even if hard-sided – are suitable for air travel. In general, those that are will be marked so. To mention just a couple of bow cases that are great for air travel, make sure to check out the Pelican Air Elite 1745 Bow Case and the SKB iSeries Ultimate Bow Case.
The good thing about flying with bows and arrows is that unlike some other sports equipment like skis and fishing rods, the bow case simply counts as a regular piece of luggage. And so, all you have to do is make sure that your bow case is within the airline’s luggage limits.
The one thing to keep in mind in that regard, though, is that if you can only have one free checked luggage, then you will have to pay extra to take both your bow case and a regular suitcase with your clothes and so on in it.