For those who enjoy taking their love of sport on their travels with them – be it a tailored set of golf clubs to play one of Africa’s incredible golf courses; or biking gear for that experience of picturesque trails that wind through much of the continent’s terrain – it is important to know the restrictions that airlines have in place for sports gear.
Tourism Update has put together a round-up of information for travelling with sporting equipment on some of the major airlines flying into the southern and East African countries.
South African Airways: Sporting equipment that can travel free of charge is listed on the airline’s website. This list includes items weighing no more than 23kg, with a maximum dimension of 200cm. For any equipment over 200cm, such as canoes, windsurfers, hang-gliders and kayaks, the relevant cargo rates will apply.
Lufthansa: Allocations for sports equipment are limited. Reservations should be made early either through a travel agency or via the Lufthansa Service Centre. This must be done no later than 24 hours before departure. Sports baggage is considered free baggage as long as the number of items and the weight do not exceed the allowance stipulated for the individual’s travel class. Should sports baggage exceed this allowance, but not exceed a maximum weight of 32kg, the passenger will be charged a flat rate. Rates can be viewed here.
Air France: Equipment weighing no more than 23kg (or 32kg if flying Business or La Première) with total dimensions of 300cm or less, can be carried free. Travellers will need prior approval from the airline’s customer service department in some cases. To check if approval is required, visit the website and select the relevant items. Approval is always required when travelling as a group of 10 or more passengers. These requests must be submitted at least 48 hours before departure.
Qatar Airways: Any sporting equipment is accepted as checked baggage as part of the free baggage allowance allocated to each passenger, depending on their ticket class. Should the weight of the sporting equipment exceed this free allowance, travellers will have to pay excess baggage rates. Rates can be viewed here.
British Airways: Passengers can take sports equipment as part of their free checked baggage allowance. It must be packed properly to avoid damage and cannot exceed the size and weight restrictions allocated to different travel classes. Larger sporting items that weigh more than the permitted baggage weight allowance will be shipped as cargo. Passengers must inform the airline if larger items are being brought along. For more information about requirements, click here.
KLM: Sports equipment that meets the following requirements – length + width + height of 158cm, and weighing a maximum of 23kg in economy class and 32kg in business class, is free. Passengers transporting items that are larger or heavier will be charged an additional fee and must be booked through KLM Customer Contact Centre no later than 48 hours before departure.
Emirates: Sporting equipment will be accepted as checked baggage as part of standard baggage allowances. To transport a bicycle as checked luggage, the airline must be contacted at least 24 hours in advance. Items with total dimensions exceeding 300cm cannot be transported as checked baggage and must be sent as cargo or freight.
Ethiopian Airlines: Any items that exceed the free baggage weight and dimension allowances for each travel class will be charged. The length + width + height of each item should not exceed 158cm. Passengers are entitled to bring two 23kg items when flying economy class, and two items weighing 32kg when flying Cloud Nine. Large items are considered freight and will be charged accordingly.
Singapore Airlines: Any items – be it skis or scuba gear – count towards a passenger’s free baggage allowance. Should items exceed this allowance, additional baggage charges will apply. Charges can be viewed here. Any items weighing more than 32kg will be re-packed and sent as cargo. Should this be the case, the SIA Cargo Office should be contacted directly.
Etihad Airways: Some sporting items are exempt from oversized baggage fees. However, the total weight of all baggage items must fall within the checked baggage allowance for each ticket (travel bags and sporting equipment combined). Passengers can purchase excess baggage online when booking their ticket, and secure a discount of up to 20% on the excess baggage airport rates. The airline contact centre can also be called to secure a 10% discount. Different equipment requirements can be viewed here.
Delta Air Lines: Most sports equipment can be brought along, but extra baggage fees will apply for oversized or overweight items. Baggage size must not exceed 157cm and cannot weigh more than 23kg for economy class and 32kg for business class. If the item a passenger would like to transport is not found here, normal baggage allowances, fees and handling policies apply.
Kenya Airways: Sports equipment is generally considered as a standard piece of baggage, but with a maximum sum of dimensions of 300cm. Maximum weight is determined according to class of travel. For larger items, contact the cargo department for shipping information. For specifics about allowances based on the type of sporting equipment, click here.