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19.12.2015
The following advice should help you understand how you can reduce or avoid most baggage fees, or how to reduce them if you have to check bags. Most airlines let you travel with a carry-on bag, as well as one smaller personal item such as a purse or backpack, without charge. For US carriers, the typical size limits for carry-on bags are that the sum of the height, length, and width of the bag should be less than 45 linear inches (114 cm), and the weight under 40 pounds (18.2 kilos).
Personal items must be small enough to fit under the seat, and for most aircraft that means it has to be much smaller than a carry-on, with a typical limit being 36 linear inches.
While a few airlines still allow you to check one bag for free, most charge you for the first checked bag, just about all of them charge higher fees for each additional bag.
Most airlines have limits on the maximum size and weight of checked bags, and may not even allow you to check oversized or overweight items.
Carry-on and checked luggage size and weight rules may vary by airline or by flight, so you may want to check with your airline before you fly. Typically, international flights have different rules from domestic flights, so if the first leg of your trip is a domestic flight, but your destination is overseas, then the international baggage fee rules may apply.
When you search for flights, you should also check the baggage rules for the airline, especially if it is the first time you have used this airline, or if you are doing something associated with higher fees such as international travel, travel with several checked bags, or travel with oversized or unusual items.
Often, if you are a premium member or your airline's frequent flyer program, you may be able to check one or more bags for free.
Also, for US airlines, active duty military personnel or their family members traveling on official orders may be able to check bags for free in some circumstances. When you travel in a group of two or more people, each ticketed passenger has the same free baggage allowance. For example, if you are flying with a child, that child would typically also be able to have a free carry-on bag and personal item. Examples include medical equipment such as crutches, canes, and portable oxygen concentrators, as well as infant car seats, and strollers. For example, for an international flight, the fee rules for someone leaving the country may be different for a passenger returning back to that same country.
While your bag fees will likely be the same if you are taking a domestic round trip with the same airline, that may not be the case if you purchased a ticket that involves different airlines for different parts of the trip.
If in spite of your best efforts, you get to the airport and find that you have to pay a baggage fee, be prepared to do so. If you think that you were wrongly charged, make sure you keep all your documentation, including any receipts, and ask for a refund at a later time.
If you think you were wrongly charged and don't get a refund, you may have to complain to the airline to get your money back. When it comes to toeing the line with TSA to get all my gear down there, packing can be a challenge.
Flying with rods is nerve-wracking. If you have 1 piece rods they are going to be checked and you need to have an adequate tube to protect them.


If you plan to bring travel rods, or 4 piece fly rods rods like I do, you might be might be able to cary them on. In conclusion, you should be able to bring your fishing gear just about anywhere you want to go as long as you are willing to put at least some of it in checked bags. We believe in the ethical pursuit of hunting and fishing adventures and support taking from the land only what you can use and leaving it in better shape than you found it. To kick off our segment on the Most Interesting Sportsman in the World, I would like to introduce you to a friend of Fin & Field, Anthony Matarese, Jr. The most common type of carry-on bag has a height of 9 inches (23 cm), a length of 22 inches (56 cm), and a width of 14 inches (35 cm). The shape of the space under the seat may vary by aircraft, so it may be best to use something that does not have rigid sides, like a purse or backpack, so it can more easily fit into an oddly shaped space.
The typical limit will be on the size of the bag (specifically the longest dimension of the bag), and on the weight. Doubly so because you want to avoid checking valuable items, fragile equipment, or gear that is critical to the trip.
The tubes or cases might be longer than the approved carry-on size but the airlines tend to treat them like fragile musical instruments and make exceptions. I think we are all smart enough to leave the knives at home (like the Abel knife above) or at least keep them in checked bags. In the US you will face fewer restrictions when trying to carry-on your fishing gear including hooks and tools.
Bags that exceed these limits may face additional fees or may not be allowed on the aircraft at all.
In my case, every year I take a trip to Baja Sur to target big game on the fly in the Sea of Cortez.
If you buy one it will come with the ability to lock but if you build one you should engineer a way to put on a TSA approved lock.
I have not personally seen anyones rods be refused on domestic flights, but I have read reports, so it is possible but rare. The good news here is that if you are departing from the US you will be able to carry-on your gear on the way to your fishing destination, improving the chances that everything you need for a successful fishing trip makes it on time and in one piece. I fish with local panga captains and they most certainly do NOT provide gear (at least not fly gear). Here are the ins and outs of traveling with a variety of fishing gear, both domestically and internationally. Most airlines will allow a tube of at least 115 inches but some limit it to 2 rods, fortunately the rules are pretty well spelled out for checking rods. If you are building one, use schedule 40 PVC or heavier, I have heard of lighter material being crushed. Internationally the rules vary and it is more likely that your rods will need to be part of your checked luggage.


Fishing line, including mono, floro, braid, and fly line are not directly addressed by TSA so we have to rely on reports from fellow sportsmen. Ultimately, once again, it is a judgement call that the TSA agent must make (and they probably don’t know much about fishing). You might have to check more of your equipment on the way home, so be prepared for that scenario. I also build all my own rods and sometimes I just want to use my own gear, and I am familiar with how it performs. Notable restrictions are Southwest with a limit of 91 inches, Alaska with a 2 rod limit, American with a 2 rod limit, Jet Blue with a 2 rod limit, and United with a 2 rod limit (limit is per container, you can check multiple containers but the cost adds up fast). Make sure to pad the rods within the  tube, neither the human or mechanical baggage handlers are known for being gentle. You are much more likely to end up with full overhead storage bins and be asked to check your rods plane side. It seems that from time to time a specific TSA agent will consider the fishing line dangerous, and with no specific rule allowing you to carry-on line, you are at their mercy. A quick search will yield your airlines specific rules including any international restrictions. So whatever your plan is for carrying on multi-piece rods you should be prepared with a rugged container if your plan goes awry. But I am also confident that flies are low on the list of things that would get stolen, they can’t be broken by rough baggage handlers, and I can get at least a few flies down in Baja if my bag is lost. If you are traveling internationally it gets even more complicated and the rules can change often, it is best to do some research right before your trip and be ready for surprises.
The fishpond bag below has survived several times after I was forced to check it into the belly of the plane. Coming home on an international flight however, your fishing line is more likely to pose a problem. So far, checking my flies has been a hassle free decision on both international and domestic flights.
Again, when flying internationally you will face more restrictions and it is safest to check anything you don’t want confiscated.
In the case of Mexico specifically the rules seem to be highly variable, sometimes from airport to airport, especially with carrying on fishing rods. So, just like with your fishing rods, be prepared to check reels and spools of line if the security agents balk.



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