Tricks for flying with your kayak

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of November 16-23, 1995

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Tricks for flying with your kayak
Q: What is the story with getting a kayak on a commercial flight? Is it going to be wicked expensive to get my K1 on a plane? Any ideas?
Christopher Duke
San Francisco, CA
[email protected]

A: Since the sight of a gigantic sea kayak--or even a slightly smaller river kayak--will probably freak out the average airport check-in agent, the key to success here will be your ability to sweet-talk your boat's way on board. It's important to realize that traveling with gear--especially oversized gear--is sort of like playing Russian Roulette: Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't. To better your odds, you'll need to pay attention to the model of the plane when making reservations, since size limitations vary not only from carrier to carrier but also within each airline's individual fleet. From there, you can take one of two routes: Either get an explicit OK from the reservations agent beforehand (be sure to get his or her name), or lay low to avoid calling any pre-flight attention to yourself, show up on flight day with your boat, and bank on your luck and your powers of persuasion. Either way you go, be prepared to turn on the charm, since that's what you'll probably need--even if you've already gotten the go-ahead. If and when you get clearance, you'll probably have to fork over a supplemental baggage charge of about $75 each way, depending on the airline. There are no commercial carrying bags for kayaks, so your best bet for damage-free transport is to wrap the boat in bubble wrap, then cover it with cardboard, and write "Fragile" all over it. For more tips on a hassle-free check-in no matter how big the gear, consult "Flying the Mother Load" in the Destinations section of our July 1994 issue.

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