How to fly with skis like an expert

Skiers using a ski lift to get up a mountain.
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Picture this: You have a trip planned where you’ll want to bring your snow gear for all your favorite outdoor activities. The only problem is you don’t know how to fly with skis. You might be wondering if it’s even possible! Don’t worry, we’ve taken care of all the research for you so you can travel with ease.

First things first, you absolutely can take your skis and ski poles on an airplane, just obviously not as carry-ons. You can, however, check them as luggage items. To prevent damage from happening, you’ll want to create some padding to shield them against the rugged tosses that can be an unfortunate part of a bag’s journey.

Packing your skis, boots and accessories can be done properly with a little foresight into how to best protect them from damage and the most efficient way to pack them. Tips and bindings are at the greatest risk of damage and improperly packed skis can warp during travel. But if you pack them properly, your babies will likely be A-OK.

Just remember your ski bag counts as part of your baggage allowance so pack as compactly and efficiently as possible to avoid those pesky added fees.

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Here’s how to fly with skis

Before traveling, confirm checked baggage fees and whether the airline has specific rules for packing skis on a flight. Many have limits on linear inches, which is the sum of the length, height and width. Cover the top of your ski poles with tip covers or wrap foam pipe insulation around the tips using a rubber band to hold them in place. You don’t want the tips tearing the ski bag and potentially poking someone.

The cheapest way to fly with skis is by booking an airline ticket that comes with a free checked bag. Pack the skis and pole inside your ski duffle bag. (Don’t leave the skis outside the bag or they could get tangled in the baggage-conveyor system.)

If you want to save money by not adding an extra bag and increase your ski padding while you’re at it, wrap your clothes around your skis. (Hot tip: Roller ski bags are great for those with tricky backs and they are a breeze to maneuver in airports.)

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Get the most out of your ski boot bag

The best ski boot bags protect your equipment and make carrying everything on a ski trip so much easier. You might even be able to take these smaller bags on the plane as carry-ons. Pro tip: place your socks in plastic bags and tuck them inside one boot. Then, stuff your chapstick and small bottles of sunscreen and moisturizer into another ziplock bag and place that in your other boot.

Your goggles will usually go in the outer pocket of your boot bag. Lots of avid skiers advise bringing your boots as your carry-on whenever possible. Airlines do lose track of luggage and while skis can be rented last minute, a great pair of boots is harder to replace. (Rentals usually just won’t cut it.)

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Now you know how to fly with skis and you no longer need to wonder how you’ll get your gear from your house to the mountain. All that’s left to do now is book your ski trip and enjoy it.

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. Learn More.