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If you’re a snowboarder living in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are you are going to plan some of your trips soon. If you are traveling by car or bus, getting your equipment to your destination will be fairly easy.
However, if you will be traveling by air, it might get a bit confusing. After all, in the age of extra fees and strict rules, even understanding your regular baggage policy might not be straightforward.
Further in this article, I will look at what the best snowboard bags for air travel are, as well as at how to pack your equipment and what the rules are when it comes to flying with your board.
If you’re a skier, make sure to check my guide to the best ski bags for air travel as well.
5 Best Snowboard Bags for Air Travel
Regardless of the airline you are flying or the resort you are about to spend time in, having a good snowboard bag to pack your equipment in is a must. While there are quite a few products on the market, not all of them are suitable for checking in.
As such, I am listing five of the best snowboard bags that are actually suitable for air travel below.
KN Aviation Top Pick: Thule RoundTrip Snowboard Roller Bag
The Thule RoundTrip roller bag has all the bases covered when it comes to transporting your snowboarding equipment. It has multiple grab handles so that you can easily move it around and smooth double wheels for rolling it around the airport.
The bag has enough room to accommodate two snowboards, along with two pairs of boots. You can also fit gloves and other accessories into the zippered mesh lining inside the bag. For durability and protection, the bag is constructed from highly tear- and water-resistant fabric. The S-shaped reinforced zipper on the Thule RoundTrip Roller bag can be locked for added security.
Since snowboarding equipment can be quite expensive, it makes sense to invest in a bag like this one that keeps your items safe from thieves and has plenty of padding and structural reinforcements to help the bag keep its shape. If space is a concern, or you need to keep the contents in place, the bag has both internal and external compression straps.
Things I Like About This Product: Users of the bag appreciate the bag’s high quality construction and ergonomic design. It is easy to carry around and rolls smoothly along on its double wheels. The attachment points that allow you to attach a backpack or duffel bag onto the bag are pretty useful.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: While the bag is well made and gets the job done, a few additional features would really make it stand out. A small clear pocket to hold an identification card would make it easy to identify which bag is whose. Some users may also prefer a bag with a shoulder strap, a feature that’s missing in the Thule RoundTrip Snowboard Roller Bag.
Runner-Up: Burton Wheelie Gig Snowboard Bag
The Burton Wheelie Gig Board Bag is another great option if you need to travel with your snowboard. Not only does it offer multiple options to carry and roll it around, but it’s also roomy and rough enough for taking on the challenge of your next trip.
The bag has fully padded compartments that can fit two boards. The bag comes in multiple variants that can accommodate boards between 146 centimeters and 181 centimeters long.
This bag has some neat features like the internal webbing straps to securely hold your boards in place.
The skate wheels make it a cinch to roll the bag around the airport, while lockable zippers provide peace of mind against theft or tampering. The removable shoulder strap is well cushioned for comfortably carrying your equipment around on the slopes.
Snowboarding requires a lot more than just boards, and this bag will accommodate plenty of extra gear, including jackets, gloves, boots, helmets, and so on.
Things I Like About This Product: The bag’s two biggest pros are its durability and protection for your boards. Thanks to its quality construction, it can handle the rigors of baggage handling and still get your equipment to the destination without any damage.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: While some users have mentioned that the shoulder straps need to be reinforced, most users are very happy with the quality construction and easy handling of the Burton Wheelie bag.
Budget-Friendly Option: Athletico Maverick Padded Snowboard Bag
The Athletico Maverick bag is the top pick for budget-friendly bags due to its rugged construction, size, padding, and lockable zippers. It offers great value if you need a bag to hold all your snowboard gear and clothes, and can even fit longer snowboards up to 178 centimeters.
The bag is constructed from 600D water-resistant polymer and lined on the inside with thermal, waterproof material. Your smaller boards won’t be going anywhere thanks to internal straps to securely fasten them. The bag has two boot storage compartments outside, padded handles, and detachable shoulder straps for easy carrying.
Things I Like About This Product: I like the thought that has gone into this bag’s design. The ID card pocket for easy identification is a useful feature, especially when you’re traveling to an airport popular among snowboarders.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: Some users experienced issues with the zippers breaking after a few uses. These cases were rare, however. To ensure your bag’s zipper lasts a long time, it is suggested to lubricate them with oil.
Premium Option: Burton Wheelie Locker Snowboard Bag
The Burton Wheelie locker snowboard bag is a heavy-duty bag that is available in multiple sizes such as 146, 156, 166 and 181 centimeters. The 181 centimeters bag can easily fit multiple snowboards up to 178 centimeters long.
Made from 600D x 1200 D polyester to ensure durability, this bag is tough and well-padded to protect whatever you keep inside.
You can roll the bag around on its IXION skate wheels with the help of a telescoping handle. The side and front haul handles offer multiple ways to carry the bag around when rolling isn’t an option. To prevent things from shifting or rolling in transit, the internal webbing straps hold the board in place.
The internal zippered compartment is ideal for stowing your jackets, parkas or other equipment. The external zippered pocket is meant for smaller personal items like goggles, gloves, and beanies.
Things I Like About This Product: The Burton Wheelie locker bag is highly durable and offers plenty of storage space. The best thing about it is the smooth wheels and telescoping handle. Some users appreciated the waterproof liner inside the bag that keeps your stuff safe from melting snow from your freshly used snowboard.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: The bag could do with a few more compression straps to hold the equipment down tighter. Another reinforced handle would also be useful. Aside from these minor niggles, this is an excellent bag for snowboarders and will surely last you a long time.
Best Hard Case : Sportube Series 3 Wheeled Snowboard Case
If you’re in the market for a durable, unique looking case that can fit either skis or snowboards, look no further than the Sportube Series 3 wheeled snowboard case. This HDPE plastic tube can accommodate up to 3 pairs of skis and poles or 2 snowboards.
The bright orange color stands out at the ski resort or airport baggage hall, so you can spot it immediately. The case can be wheeled around with the help of a removable handle, and easily be strapped onto a roof rack. It is lockable for additional security.
The Sportube Series 3 case is made in the USA.
Things I Like About This Product: The Sportube Series 3 case is easy to roll and can accommodate 2 snowboards, or 3 pairs of skis. The case can be strapped to a roof rack easily, and its bright color makes it easy to identify.
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying This Product: You should keep in mind that the case weighs 16 pounds when empty, so you may want to weigh it after packing in order to avoid any airline fees. Another thing that would be nice to have is some internal padding or webbing to hold the skis securely in place.
How to Pack a Snowboard for Air Travel
Snowboarding equipment is not only expensive, but also fairly easy to break and potentially able to damage your other belongings. Because of that, it’s important to get pack it properly before heading to the airport.
Unlike with smaller sports equipment, with snowboards – just like with skis – the only safe option is to use a snowboard bag like the Thule RoundTrip. These bags will usually fit your boots and accessories as well.
Whatever accessories and clothes do not fit into your snowboard bag, you can pack into a separate suitcase. (If you need to get suitcases, make sure to check my article about the best luggage sets as well.)
Some of the things you should keep in mind before setting off on your trip include:
- Make sure you know your airline’s policy as things such as whether or not snowboard bags require a separate fee differ depending on the airline
- Get an appropriate bag since airlines won’t transfer your equipment without it being packed properly, and even if they would, it would likely get damaged (or damage other baggage) along the way
- Pack some clothes around your snowboard to give your bag additional padding
- Put a name/address tag on your snowboard bag just in case it gets lost along the way
- Lock your bag with a TSA-approved luggage lock to prevent it from being opened by anyone but the security staff while in transit
Before continuing, you might also want to check out this video to get some inspiration about how to pack for your next snowboarding trip:
Flying with Snowboards: What Are the Rules?
When flying with snowboards on commercial airlines, you will usually encounter one of the two situations below regarding the baggage policy:
- Snowboarding equipment counts within your standard luggage allowance – In this case, you will be able to check in your snowboard bag as a normal piece of luggage. Generally, a combination of a snowboard bag and a boot bag will count as one piece of luggage. If that’s the case and your fare allows one free checked bag, you might need to pay for second one should you wish to take a suitcase with you as well. If you can have two free checked bags, you will be able to take both your snowboarding equipment and your suitcase without having to pay extra.
- Snowboarding equipment doesn’t count within your standard luggage allowance – If that’s the case, you will need to pay a “sports equipment fee” to fly with your board. Usually it’s about 50 or 60 dollars. Of course, besides the skis, you can check your regular suitcase in using your standard luggage allowance as well.
Roughly speaking, many full service airlines will allow your skis to be counted as a standard piece of luggage while most low cost airlines will require you to pay a separate fee to carry your equipment.
The exact rules, however, vary from airline to airline (and can also change over time), so I recommend you to look up the rules of the airline you are flying with prior to your flight. You can do so simply by searching for “[airline you are flying with] snowboard” and checking the relevant section on the airline’s website.
In the next section, you can find an overview of the rules of some of the major airlines out there.
Snowboarding Equipment Policies for Major Airlines
Are you flying with one of the major US airlines or some of the other large global airlines? If so, you might be able to find the rules for traveling with snowboards on your airline as well as a link to the appropriate page on the airline’s website in the list below.
Otherwise, as mentioned earlier in the article, search for “[your airline] snowboard” on Google. Also, keep in mind that these rules might change over time.
A snowboard, a pair of boots, and a helmet count as a single piece of luggage on American Airlines.
While sports equipment counts as a standard piece of luggage up to 62 inches, in case of snowboard bags, you will almost always be above that. In that case, you will be charged for a second bag and the standard fees will apply.
Your bag can be up to 126 linear inches and 70 pounds.
A snowboard bag can be checked in as part of your standard baggage allowance if you are traveling on British Airways.
As long as the bag does not exceed 190 x 75 x 65 centimeters (75 x 29.5 x 25.5 inches) in size, it can also contain your clothes, etc. However, it needs to be within your standard weight allowance – otherwise, extra fees will apply.
British Airways won’t accept bags longer than 190 centimeters. The airline also explicitly notes on its website that you will not be allowed to board in your snowboard boots – though that should be obvious.
Delta Air Lines
Delta Airlines counts a snowboard bag and a boot bag as one piece of luggage. If the two bags’ combined weight exceeds 50 pounds, excess luggage fees apply.
Standard baggage dimensions can be exceeded without incurring oversize luggage charges. However, your bag cannot exceed 115 linear (length + width + depth) inches.
A snowboard and a pair of boots are considered to be one set of snowboarding equipment. That is considered one standard piece of baggage when flying with JetBlue. While overweight fees apply, snowboarding equipment is exempted from size limits.
Keep in mind that if you are traveling with boots packed separately from your board, they need to be in a snowboard boot bag (i.e. they can’t be in a suit case or a “random” duffel bag) to be considered a part of the equipment.
The airline also specifies that the equipment needs to be in a sturdy container. While any of the bags above should work, you might want to consider the hard Sportube Series 3 case.
Lufthansa charges a flat fee for transporting sports equipment including snowboards. The fee will depend on the route you are about to fly. Unless your snowboard bag is longer than 2 meters, it will count as standard sports equipment. If it’s longer, it will count as bulky sports equipment and the charge will be higher.
Keep in mind that Lufthansa doesn’t allow baggage to be longer than 3.15 meters and heavier than 32 kilograms. The airline also recommends contacting it in advance to make sure space for your snowboard will be available.
To fly with a snowboard on Ryanair, you will need to pay a “ski equipment fee” of 45 EUR if paid at the time of booking or 50 EUR if paid online after booking or at the airport. Paying the fee will entitle you to carry a set of snowboarding equipment that is up to 20 kilograms in weight.
Southwest Airlines will count appropriately packed snowboarding equipment as part of your standard baggage allowance. A set of a snowboard and a pair of boots is counted as one piece of luggage even if you need to split it into two bags.
While oversize fees are not charged for snowboards, overweight charges (above 50 pounds) apply.
Standard baggage fees apply when you want to carry your snowboard on a Spirit Airlines Flight.
You can pack your boots separately, however, they will need to be in a boot bag.
Up to two snowboards in one bag and one snowboard boot bag are considered to be one piece of luggage and count towards your standard baggage allowance on United Airlines. Maximum combined weight of the above is 50 pounds, otherwise overweight fees will apply.
A snowboard boot bag without a pair of boots is considered a standard piece of luggage, and normal rules apply.
United also specifies that your equipment has to be packaged in a suitable bag, and that it is not liable for any damage to your snowboard that might arise during the transport.
In most cases, you will be able to fly with your snowboard for no extra charge (other than an extra bag for your non-snowboarding belongings). As such, if you have your own board, then it will be more economical to bring it with you rather than renting one at your destination.
That’s especially the case if you are going for a longer trip or if you travel with your snowboard regularly.
If you decide to take your snowboard with you, the most important thing will be to pack it properly. That will both ensure that it arrives at your destination safe and that the airline will actually accept it. The one thing that you will definitely need to do so is a good snowboard bag for air travel.