How to Protect Your Surfboard for Airline Travel
Heading out on a surf trip? Learn how to safely pack your surfboard bag for your next plane flight.
Surfboard protection is a real problem that all surfers face. That expensive purchase that makes us so excited about life also brings us some extra anxiety whether you’re paddling out on a bigger day or prepping to pack your board bag and load it on a plane flight for a multi-hour flight to a far off destination.
We’ll walk you through how to realistically pack your bag with the gear you’'ll be taking on your trip so your board doesn’t get damaged en route to paradise.
7 Steps to Protecting Your Surfboard While Traveling
Unfortunately, surfboards are easy to break. Snapping or dinging a brand-new fiberglass investment happens to all of us from time-to-time. Follow these steps to reduce the risk of it happening to you while in transit.
Selecting a bag
When selecting your bag, first choose one that will hold the same number of boards you plan to be traveling with. Next, you’ll want to make sure there is room to add extra padding, leaving 4 to 6 inches of space at the top and bottom and 2 to 3 inches on each side.
Surfboard packing Prep
Once you have your bag ready to be packed you can start to organize your gear all in one place. First, remove your fins and wrap them in bubble wrap, a t-shirt or a cloth towel. Keep your fins and fin key in your board bag with the board. Ideally, your board bag has a fin pocket you can slide the accessories into.
Protect the surfboard nose
If you can find an old piece of foam to be used for the nose of the board, your board will be forever appreciative and show its appreciation by not breaking. The nose area is at extra risk of breaking during travel because of the nose rocker which creates extra space between each of your boards and the top and bottom of the bag. Meaning, its easier to break that area of the board if pressure is applied. If you don’t have foam, try utilizing your clothes, towels or wetsuits to build in a nice pad for the nose of your boards.
Protect the surfboard tail
The same goes for your tail as the nose. It’s at less risk for damage but is fragile none-the-less.
Protect the surfboard rails
Serious people tend to use foam pipe insulation or cardboard rail protectors to ensure their boards safety while flying across oceans. But, for most of, packing is a rushed experience. For the non-planners, utilize your clothes and towels as a protective barrier so that there is some cushion between the outside layer of the bag and the rails of your surfboard.
Many surfboard bags come with internal straps to synch down the board to protect them from moving around. Don’t strap them down too tight, just enough to ensure that they are snug and won’t be moving during their trip through multiple peoples hands.
protect the surfboard deck
The surfboard deck is at less risk for damage than other areas as long as your board is packed correctly. Simply use a towel and any separation sheets the board bag came with to add some extra cushion to the top bottom and in between the boards.
Protect against loss
Definitely write your name and contact somewhere where it can easily be found and read. Some people like to write their info in HUGE LETTERS across their bag or add a huge “FRAGILE” or "Handle With Care" across the bag. However, the baggage handlers know these bags are fragile and we feel you are just calling out more attention to have your board messed with as they know you’re not local to the area. Your best bet at the end of the day for surfboard protection while flying is to make sure your board is packed right, tight and has clear contact information and then hope for the best!