Hawaiian Airlines responds to surfers frustrated with board restrictions

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Hawaiian Airlines is speaking out about its surfboard policy after surfers, including Kelly Slater, expressed frustration with the rules.

In an Instagram post, the world champion echoed the sentiments of a fellow surfer, Bob Hurley, who complained that the airline would not allow him to check three small surfboards in one bag, though ultimately, he wrote, the airline’s manager decided to “look the other way.”

I get happy when I see this logo. I love @hawaiianairlines BUT, recently had a horrible experience. Normally airlines charge extra for surfboards. We all expect it. Had three small boards in a 23 pound bag. They only allow two…even itty bitty ones…Was told in Honolulu that it’s not possible to put them on the plane. I offered to pay xtra. Not possible says the manager. “Two is da rule”I said “it’s possible, I travel a ton and weight is the litmus test…she said this one time she would do me a favor…let me pay for two bags although it was one and she would look the other way….when I said…But…I felt like I may get arrested. Super bad vibes…Not another word… I know a lotta surfers that will no longer fly Hawaiian. I would be so happy to help with a practical and profitable policy…but they have not asked So sad for me. I don’t like doing stuff like this but I reached out to Hawaiian and they ignored me. Such a bum out. Be careful cause you will get busted for being smart and honest.

Slater called the policy “ridiculous and a default profit racket.”

In its own Instagram post, Hawaiian Airlines responded to the frustration:

First, we take transporting your boards seriously. We understand their importance and do our best – not always successfully – to make sure they arrive in the same condition in which we accept them. There is a cost to that mālama (care) – unlike a checked-in suitcase, our customer service team must hand-carry surfboards from acceptance to the belly of the plane and manually process them through security screening. Plus, we’re liable for damages if something goes wrong. The fees we charge are intended to cover those costs, and we try to keep them reasonable and competitive.

Second, we enforce some restrictions when it comes to checking in surfboards. The one that’s gotten a lot of attention this week is the limit of two boards per bag. That limit is based on our experience that it’s more likely boards will get damaged when three or more boards are packed together – damage for which we are rightly held liable. The majority of the other US airlines have the same rule, for the same reason.

The airlines cites a webpage (link) with information on traveling with sports equipment, including a section for “sports equipment – surfboards, kiteboards, paddle boards and wake boards” that lists specific information and pricing depending on destination.

The page also includes the following:

Conditions of Acceptance:

  1. Fin must be removed or well padded
  2. The entire board must be protected by a suitable container
  3. Limit of two (2) boards per container
  4. Charge will be assessed per container
  5. Transportation is subject to availability of space*

*Hawaiian Airlines is not responsible for the ground delivery of your board. Once it has arrived at your destination, we’ll notify you to pick it up at the airport.

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