If you are travelling overseas on an international flight with the intent of pursuing some sporting adventure, you will need to know in advance the arrangements the airlines have for sporting equipment. This can makes your selection of airline that much easier or harder - depending on the rules. Most airlines call this type of baggage 'oversized or special baggage'. You need to check the restrictions as the terms of carriage are always under review. Some airlines - particularly the smaller airlines - offer you carriage capacity at their discretion, which creates a risk for the traveller. The airlines are placing restrictions on weight, diamensions and type of sporting equipment that you can take on flights. Some airlines have treated sporting goods very generously, offering a free or subsidized allowance. Here is a sample of airline policy in the Asia Pacific region:
- Qantas: They don’t give the limits for carriage of canoes, but you might be able to gauge from the windsurfer limits what they accept, but its best to ask. See www.qantas.com.au/info/flying/beforeYouTravel/sportingEquipment#jump7
- Philippine Airlines: They charge you for any excess weight over the free baggage allowance, making them an expensive option. See www.philippineairlines.com/TEMPFILES/129.asp?nivSel=5_5_5.
- Japan Airlines: I could find no info on their website, though I suspect they charge normal handling charges, or have restrictions…just because they are Japanese, or because its never happened before.
- Japan ANA: Being Japanese, ANA have very specific and tight rules on baggage. See www.ana.co.jp/eng/dms/svc/airport/baggage/index.html.
- Cebu Pacific Airlines: They have pretty tight restrictions because of the small planes. See www.cebupacificair.com/help/luggage.html. Note the option to use Cebu Cargo Services, which allows you to pick up items within 3 days without charge. See www.cebupacificair.com/promos/faqs-cargo.html.
- Tiger Airways: They offer surprisingly good terms – charging just $25 per item, though this might get expensive if you are traveling multiple legs separately. See http://www.tigerairways.com/flight/useful-travel-information.php. There is also a risk of non-carriage.
- Viva Macau Airlines: They charge a fee, and you have a weight limit up to 50kg. See www.flyvivamacau.com/en/before_you_fly/conditions_8.php.
- Asian Spirit: They are a Philippines domestic airline. They had no baggage information. See www.asianspirit.com/index.html.
- Air New Zealand: They offer reasonable carriage terms for oversized baggage. You get 10kg extra free baggage allowance. See www.airnewzealand.com/travelinfo/baggageinformation/oversized_items.htm.
Some of the smaller discount airlines contract freight movements to third party companies, so it might be worthwhile to make indepedent inquiries. It might even be worthwhile buying the item new if you know where you are going, for delivery to the destination if you have a receiving destination - say a friend's house. There are often problems with credit card companies sending items to non-billing addresses.
I make the point that most of the airlines would have no special problem carrying an inflatable canoe like my favoured Sevylor Tahiti model, but you would likely have to pay a slight baggage excess fee.