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Flying with gear - United

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Joined: 23 Aug 2001
Posts: 1210

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:05 pm    Post subject: Flying with gear - United Reply with quote

Has anyone flown with windsurf gear on United recently? Their website says that "These items are subject to standard oversize and overweight service charges. " The oversize charge is $200 for international flights, which is the what's typically shown as the cost of traveling with a windsurf bag on United.

The question is: if the bag weight more than 50 lb / 23 kg, does a second "overweight" charge of $200 get added on, for a total charge of $400 per bag?
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Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 2276
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 3:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

From 23E of Unitedís Contract of Carriage:

Windsurfing Equipment- Subject to the conditions and charges specified below, windsurfing boards will be accepted as Checked Baggage. For purposes of this provision, one windsurfing board not exceeding 115 inches in length and not exceeding 99.9 pounds (45.3 kg) with one boom, one mast, one sail and necessary hardware will be considered as one item of windsurfing equipment.
Windsurfing equipment must be padded and enclosed in suitable packing sufficient to protect from scratches or dents or other damage.
United will accept windsurfing equipment as checked baggage up to the customerís maximum Checked Baggage Allowance. First, second, and any applicable oversize and overweight bag fees may apply.
Windsurfing equipment cannot be accommodated on any itinerary involving a United Express flight, and is not accepted during excess baggage embargos. Additional size or acceptance limitations may apply dependent upon aircraft type and configuration.
Allow an extra 30 minutes at check-in.

Support Your Sport. Join US Windsurfing!
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Joined: 23 Aug 2001
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Dan. I had read the text on the United pages before I posted my question.

However, the page is actually not 100% clear. It says "any applicable oversize and overweight bag fees may apply". In the same paragraph, it lists the 99.9 lb limit that applies to virtually all baggage.

So if you're flying economy with a 50 lb limit on your checked bags, but have a windsurf bag that's 70 pounds, a gate agent "may" apply the overweight bag fees in addition to the oversize bag fees, and charge $400 for the bag. Or he/she may look at the 99.9 lb and only charge $200 for oversize fees.

My question was if anyone has recent experience flying with windsurfing gear on United with a bag that was heavier than 50 lb. One board, sail, mast & boom will typically be less than 50 lb. Even two small sails may remain below the limit. But two race sails (12 kg), a board (6-7 kb), mast (2.5 kg), boom (2.5 kg), extension, and a couple of fins will bring the weight up to 55-60 pounds.
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Joined: 08 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Recent as of 5 years ago.
I packed 2 boards, 4 sails, 3 booms, I don't know how many masts.
Anyway, it was 99.9999999 lbs not exceeding their oversized luggage limits.
The agent scratched his head, then called his buddy over, who then called one more over, who then called... at some point we must have had about 7 agents staring at the one screen trying to figure out how it was even remotely possibly to bring such luggage in a plane. It was comedy Very Happy !!!

In the end I paid the $100, 150 or 200 fee for windsurfing equipment under 100lbs and not going over the size limit and that was it. It travels along the oversize luggage.

Imagine the hassle of slalom pro sailors checking in I don't know 6 of those bags? Heck, some people even have their own plane. I will try that next time Very Happy !

Where ya going?

Visit Manu's Windsurfing Blog - Photos, Videos, Tips and Tricks.
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Joined: 23 Aug 2001
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It turns out that United has changed the policy regarding windsurfing equipment on September 27, 2018 (easy to check on Up until September, the charge for a windsurf bag was $200, without any additional oversize or overweight charges (but a firm limit on 99.99 lbs).

Since September 27, the policy clearly states that both oversize and overweight charges apply. So a bag up under 51 lbs will cost at least $200 for international travel, and an additional $200 if it weighs between 51 and 70 lbs. I say "at least" because standard bag charges also apply - if you have a one bag allowance and check in two other bags, a windsurf bag could be really expensive.

However, the check-in agent does have some discretion, since there is a section that states:
"UA may, in its sole discretion, change, consider or make exceptions to its Excess or Oversize/Overweight Baggage policy (e.g., to the number, size, weight, type and/or applicable service charges)."

We will print out the old and the new policies and bring them to the airport, and try to be nice. There is a bit of hope since they just dropped the surfboard fees to California. Maybe they can be nice to windsurfers, too.
I actually followed Dan's approach and looked at the contract of carriage. The one that was in effect when we purchased the ticket clearly states:
Where the Ticket has been purchased and issued before the effective date of an increase in the applicable fare, the increase will not be collected, provided there is no change in Origin, Destination, Stopover point(s), flight(s) or dates shown on the original Ticket.

The same clause is still in the current contract that has the higher fees. The previous contract had a straight $200 fee with a weight limit of 70 lbs for windsurf bags.

We should be fine (knock on wood!), but anyone flying with gear on United in the future may want to be aware of this change. It seems other airlines have better policies for windsurf bags.
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Joined: 16 Nov 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have flown a number of times with special cargo (windsurfing stuff, oversized items, dogs, etc.). IMO the best thing to do is call the 800 number ahead of time, tell them what you have, ask them to verify the logistics, get a price you feel comfortable with, and then ask for the price to be added as a comment line on your booking. If they can't create a comment, ask for email confirmation.

The logistics check is used if you are connecting to a smaller plane because sometimes big bags won't fit. In that case they generally won't accept the bags for the first leg; had it happen, have seen it happen, it sucks.

These oversized fees are usually negotiable, if you don't get the price you want just call back and talk to someone else. IMO this it is a much better to have this variable known as opposed being at the counter agent's whim while you are under a bunch of stress.

From my experience United tends to have strict language, but they are usually flexible and often kind, especially if you have any kind status.
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