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Transporting Golf Clubs via Airplaine?

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I am due to make a Florida trip in the coming month or so and have never actually brought golf clubs to the airport before.

Could anyone with experience tell me how much of a hassle is this? Does a golf bag qualify as oversized by most airplane's definition (in other words, will it cost more to transport them than to buy them new once I get there?). If anyone has any experiences they could share, I would greatly appreciate their input.

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Depends on the airline, but I've found it almost no trouble at all.    Last weekend I flew with them on Southwest, where they are free.   United treats them as a normal checked bag without any extra fees except their normal bag fee.   Just check the airline's website - they're fully described.   Here's United's: http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,50773,00.html

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Should be no problem, especially with the modern hardshell cases designed for the rough and tumble of airline baggage handling.  Put your clubs in a carry or stand bag, watch out for too much overall weight (shoes and other things you include add up, so stay within the weight limit,) and get a hardshell case with non-protruding latches. You can even lock the case with a TSA approved lock.  Some airports have golf clubs come up on the normal luggage carousel and others take them to a special over-sized luggage area for pickup.  If they are in a case, mine usually come out on the normal carousel.  If you travel with a large tour bag, it is a bit more difficult and time consuming, which is why I recommend a travel bag and case -- and I like the cases with wheels.  I've known of people who had clubs broken when they are enclosed in only a typical canvas bag.  I clearly would not trust the simple snap-on and zip up top cover that comes with larger bags.

One thing to consider is not all cars can accommodate a hardshell case in the trunk, so plan ahead or ask about your taxi, ride, or limousine (I had to throw in this last one.)  Trust me, Lincoln and Cadillac limos can handle a case in the trunk and most small cars cannot..

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I actually travel to and from Hawaii to the mainland quite often and on the majority of my trips I make sure to bring my golf clubs.  As others have pointed out, make sure that the vehicle you'll be traveling in will be able to support a hard case.  If not, you'll definitely be in a bind.  If you will be taking a taxi, theres no doubt in my mind they'll ding you a few extra bucks for the hard case or even a golf bag being an "excessive" size.

In regards to the airlines, I've always prepaid the second luggage fee up front for a second piece of check in luggage.  The first one is my suitcase.  Double check with the airlines to determine if a hard case shell for the golf clubs isnt considered an "oversize" piece of luggage by definition of the airline.  I have never been charged and oversize luggage fee, but again, its contingent on the airline.  Usually if its not considered oversize, it still cant exceed the 50 pound limit.

Now when it comes to cases, I am sure everyone has their opinion.  I have gone through two, the cheap standard hard case that you can pick up for around $40 and the SKB single golf bag shell.  By far, the SKB shell has been the best for me and would highly recommend it!  One of the big bonuses for the SKB is that not only does it have 3 field replaceable latches, the latches are TSA approved!

Now here are a couple hassles I've had.  I was traveling once, went through security checks and was 20 minutes from boarding when I heard my name being called over the loud speaker asking me to return to the TSA counter on the other side of the security gate.  I went back, found the TSA station and they told me I had to provide them with the key for my golf bag.  I almost lost it and told them it WAS a TSA approved lock.  They simply said oh, but the sticker isnt on there.   And I said the sticker wore off after traveling so much.  They again said, oh, okay thanks.  Put in their TSA key and it opened right up.  The idiot didnt even try to open it.  Now notice I didnt say that all TSA's are idiots, I said that idiot.  Not trying to offend anyone working for the TSA.  So I then had to go back through the security checks and run to board my plane.

Second instance was when I was flying back to Hawaii, was going to be picked up at the airport and go straight to the golf course.  Yah I know, my life is rough!  :P   It turns out they sent my golf clubs somewhere else.  They didnt say they lost them but insured me that they would call me when they came in so I can pick them up.  I told them they should call me when they find them and better deliver them to my house.   So I ran home, slapped together a set with a hybrid, a wood, 5 wedges, a putter and and whatever loose irons i could find and off to the course I went and shot one of my WORST rounds of my life.

Here are my take aways...

1. Contact the airlines to make sure there are no surprises about "over size" luggage costs.

2. If you are gonna take a taxi at your arrival destination, be ready to pay a few extra bucks for "excessive" size fees.

3. Make sure to get a TSA approved hard case and if the sticker wears off, make sure you tell the airline agent or the TSA the locks ARE TSA approved!  If you have the extra time, follow your case to the TSA inspection area just in case.

4. If the airline sends your golf clubs or your luggage for that matter somewhere else, insist that they call you when its found and insist that they deliver it to your doorstep.  They will comply!

5. Oh and if it is considered oversize, keep in mind that some airlines will bring up the clubs separately and place them on the side  or adjacent area to baggage claim.  So dont freak out if you dont see it coming up the conveyer belt, it may already have been brought up separately!

Anyhow, sorry for the long post, hope this helps...

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One funny thing.  My wife and I flew Jet Blue to Bermuda.  Flight was great, bags were fine, staff was nice, but there was one quirky rule.  In the rules on the clubs, it said you could have no more than 3 balls!  So we complied on the way to Bermuda.  On the way back, we didn't.  We were pleased to find that there were no TSA golf ball quantity inspectors at Logan, so we did OK!

So as the above poster pointed out, read your airlines rules and restrictions.  Have fun.

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Depends upon the airline.  I was told last trip by the airline that they would not replace any damage if I didn't have a "hard" shipping container.  But not all require that.

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I flew American Airlines from Logan to Miami over the summer with no problems. It helped that we got to use priority access and didn't have to stand in the huge line to check them, but (other than the time it would have taken) I can't imagine it would have been that much of a hassle.
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I used soft cases with no problems. I like the lighter weight. I have a 48" PVC pipe on the bag to make sure it is the tallest thing in the bag.

Southwest has treated my fine with no extra fees. I have also found that curbside checkin has helped me avoid issues regarding oversize that my buddies have run into at the counter.

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You could use one of those excess baggage services. They can pick up at home, ship and deliver it to the hotel. Comparable to the $100 that you are likely to pay one way for excess baggage at the airport. Less things to pick up, carry to the airport. They want to pick up earlier, but less overhead. And although I never did this, hotels might hold your clubs for pickup after you left. This allows you to board quicker, etc.

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Yeah, but excess baggage comes down to how many bags you are allowed to check. If you are allowed 2 bags, then you should be fine. I used to have an old soft travel bag that the golf bag went in and you just zipped it up. I plan on getting one with wheels soon so I can just tow it behind me. Something like this. It would at least make the handling at your end much easier. I have carried clubs through airports many times and wont do it again after seeing these bags.


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