Can I Fly with Hockey Equipment? (My Top Travel Tips)

by Simon | Updated On: February 8th, 2020
flying

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Hockey is definitely a travel sport. Whether for a tournament, game, or tryout you may find yourself have to travel great distances for this great sport. Now you must make a decision, drive the 10+ hours halfway across the country or get on a plane. Flying with hockey equipment can definitely be scary the first time. Hockey equipment is very expensive and precious cargo, here are some tips to make sure you and your equipment get from point A to point B quickly and safely. The first question many people may ask can I fly with my hockey gear?

Yes,you are allowed to fly with hockey equipment. While a hockey bag is not going to fit in the overhead cabin of a plane, it is perfectly acceptable to check a hockey bag in the same way you would a large suitcase.

Travelling With Hockey Sticks

Airlines either include hockey sticks as one luggage complimentary or count it as an extra piece of luggage (extra charge).

Airlines where a hockey stick plus the bag counts as two pieces of luggage:

Airlines where a hockey stick plus the bag count as just one piece of luggage:

Travelling with Hockey Sticks in Europe

This was accurate at time of writing -- check before you fly.

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What to do before you get to the airport:

The first thing to do before you get to the airport is check your airlines checked bag policy. You will 100% have to check your hockey bag and sticks, so make sure you know what you will be paying.

Many airlines (in North America, not Europe) also bundle a hockey bag and up to 2 hockey sticks together as one item.

This a service they first provided for skiers who would check their skis and ski poles. Airlines have since extended this curtesy to hockey players.

Many airlines even have an option on self check-in monitors for hockey bags specifically. If they do not and you have questions, just go through the line and check in with an attendant.

1. Pack The Essentials

After checking the bag policy, the next step is to prepare your hockey bag. You are going to want to make sure your bag is properly packed.

Obviously you are going to want to make sure your hockey bag contains all of your hockey equipment, but you should not just have your equipment in there all tossed randomly. I recommend packing your equipment neatly, remove any extra jerseys/socks/any wet clothing, and having skate guards on your skates.

2. No Wet Clothes

The wet clothes may make security alarms go off on your bag and any excuse for a TSA agent to go through your bag they will take. This is a stop that could lead to missing equipment on the repacking of the bag by the agent or your bag missing flight takeoff and arriving at the destination late.

3. Use Skate Guards

I really recommend the skate guards because your bag may not be handled with the most care in the world. These bag handlers are supposed to treat each bag carefully, but with the thousands of bags they see everyday, there is no promise they are not just throwing your bag from place to place. 

Preparing your hockey sticks is the last step before getting to the airport. If you have a stick bag, place your sticks in the bag and you are pretty much set. However, if you do not have a stick bag, I recommend taping your sticks together to limit the chance of your sticks being separated during boarding of the plane and so that they come off the baggage carousel together.

What to do at the airport:

Once you get to the airport you are going to head to check in. I do not recommend checking in on your phone even though that may be more convenient.

Get to the airport a bit earlier then you normally would to make sure your equipment is taken care of. Once you travel with your equipment more you will learn timing a bit better based on your airport and airline of choice. 

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1. Avoid Excess Baggage Fees (Trick)

Choose your check in method, either the kiosk or stand in line. Do know that even at the self check in kiosk, you will have to wait for an attendant to confirm that you are checking a hockey bag and sticks.

Once you see an attendant they will bring you over to the bag weighing scale. Make sure your bag is not filled with extra clothes or jerseys to avoid paying oversized baggage fees.

Your standard hockey bag should not weigh over 50 pounds. Once weighed, the attendant will properly tag your bags and handle the rest from their end in most cases. Only once was I directed to take my tagged bags to a second location. After dropping your bag and sticks off, continue through security and the airport as you would normally when flying.

What to do once you land:

After landing listen to hear what carousel your baggage will be coming out of from the pilot or flight attendants. Your bag and sticks should come out of the carousel as if it were any other piece of luggage. After receiving your bag and sticks, leave the airport and enjoy your time on the ice!

Dealing with missing luggage (rare)

If you have taken all the proper steps on your own end, here are some common troubleshooting tips should your equipment not come out of the carousel. 

Check the oversized luggage carousel -- sometimes even if your bag is not oversized, the bag handlers may incorrectly categorize your bag and they may end up there.

With your baggage tags, head to your airlines baggage office- check with the office to see if they can locate your bag. Many times the bag may just not have been loaded on to the carousel correctly and is sitting in the back.

If your bag can not be found at the airport, this office will call the airport you flew from to see if there was a delay in your bags travel. These offices will almost always find your bag, however they may not always get your bag where it needs to be on time. Each airline has their own policy for missing luggage with regards to return time/compensation.

Smart Travel Tips To Keep Your Gear Protected

Flying with your bag does not have to be stressful and is something you will get used to the more that you do it. Airlines are a hospitality service in the end and they will be there to help you should you have any questions. Here are some last key tips for you! Enjoy your trip and time on the ice!

Top 10 Awesome Tips For Flying With Hockey Equipment - Best Way To Fly With Sticks

Buy a stick bag (check price on Amazon)- many times you can get more then 2 sticks in them and I have never been stopped to see how many sticks are in the bag (at your own risk).

Make sure you have skate guards nothing would be worse then showing up with cracked or nicked up blades from your bag being tossed around or mishandled. 

Avoid bringing a suitcase by packing a carry-on and packing extra clothes in your hockey bag- you will normally have 10-15 extra pounds to work with. I packed for a year of college with a hockey bag, book bag, and carry-on sized rolling bag.

Show up early -- The earlier your bag is checked the earlier it should be loaded on to the plane.- Many airlines let you track your luggage through your phone now. The sooner they receive your bag the better chance your gear will make your flight and not be bumped to a later flight due to lack of room.

To recap -- you can travel with hockey equipment, but always check the airline policy before you leave home so you know the rules, the baggage weight limit and any fees to expect -- every airline and every country has different rules.

Simon, the founder of Brave Stick Hockey, started playing hockey in 2003. He launched this website in 2018 to help new hockey players and fans learn more about the game and have more fun while learning.