Oversized luggage and overweight luggage are two different ball games. Oversized luggage refers to bags that are over the general size limitations, bags carrying items such as sports equipment like boards and skis, golf bags, musical instruments, and baby strollers. Overweight baggage means your appropriately sized check-in baggage weighs more than the allotted limit that is typically allowed.
The fees associated with oversized baggage are dependent on the airlines; for instance, on domestic USA Delta Airlines cites that bags measuring between 161-203 cm in their total combined length, width and height will incur a fee of $200 USD, however certain specialty items may exceed those limitations but only up to 292 cm. On Delta, if your bag is over a combined 203 cm, you will not be allowed to bring these bags on the flight. Many American flights have limitations that are similar to Delta’s, but on any airlines the fees are largely dependent on where you are flying, since the size of the plane will determine cargo space, and how much weight the plane can carry. Worldwide, the typical standard for oversize baggage equates to anything over 20 to 32 kilograms (depending on the class of your ticket) and 62 inches.
Although it is always advised to check your specific airline’s limitations on baggage measurements, here are a few tips that can help you save money and can help you be prepared for what you can expect with oversize luggage protocol at airports.
If you have specialty items, it is best to look on the website about the limitations and allowances related to your item and if you have any questions about possible fees or not being allowed to bring your baggage on the plane due to its size, call ahead to iron out any wrinkles related to luggage. Traveling is stressful enough without getting to the airport and dealing with a flurry of fees and unexpected restrictions.
When traveling with sports equipment, there is not a standard protocol that applies to all types of equipment. Some airlines consider sports equipment to be included in the check-in baggage, while others do not and you will find some hefty fees awaiting you if you are not prepared and check the airlines specific limitations first. Golf clubs receive different treatment than water sports boards, and skis are handled differently than equestrian riding boots. In fact, these days kiteboarding manufacturers are designing their kite board bags (that are meant to hold two kites, a pump, the board with room for harnesses, wetsuits and a few clothes) with labels that say GOLF all over them. They even have decals resembling the PGA tour logo along with icons that symbolize where golf clubs are meant to be stored in the bag. This is because the majority of the time golf clubs are not charged extra, while water sports specific gear like kiteboarding will incur extra charges.
Be prepared to first check your bags in at the regular check in desk, so that your bags can be tagged with the appropriate labels to make sure your bag reaches the destination, but you will then be directed to the specified ‘oversize’ luggage loading area which is usually not too far away or difficult to find. Subsequently, upon arrival your oversize bag will not come out on the regular baggage claim, but you will have to go to the designated pick up area for irregularly sized bags.
Packing your oversized luggage appropriately is usually a given since typical items that fall under this category are expensive sports equipment or musical instruments. In addition to the fact that these possessions are fragile, the baggage loaders do not see your baggage as an occasion to be extra careful, but will most likely throw your baggage even harder due to its irregular size. Making sure that your board or guitar doesn’t show up in pieces when you pick it up on the other side of your flight should include a proper case or bag, a fair amount of padding either in the form of bubble wrap or clothes and putting stickers that say fragile are almost completely irrelevant to the baggage handlers.