Traveling on your golfing holidays will involve flying with golf clubs. Lugging your clubs along is not always be the most exciting prospect.
Many golfers choose to rent clubs at the destination. This is not ideal and can be quite expensive.
The information that I will provide in this article will make the process easier and less expensive to select a golf bag for flying and protecting your clubs.
Can you Bring Golf Clubs on a Plane?
You can book your golf clubs onto a flight in the baggage, but you will not be able to take your clubs into the passenger section as carry-on luggage.
How to Travel with Golf Clubs
Deciding on whether to travel with your golf clubs or renting clubs at your destination is a difficult decision for most golfers. You are confident in using your golf clubs and this may play a big part in your decision.
Factors such as cost, convenience, duration, and travel time will all play a significant role in your decision making.
Both options have their pros and cons.
In this article, I will look at some tips that will make not only help your decision but also travel much less cumbersome.
Knowing Weight Allowances and Checking Golf Clubs In
Knowing the number of baggage items, and maximum allowable weight, which is permitted on every leg of your travel is an important consideration in your planning exercise.
Most airlines will allow you to check in a regular size bag measuring 27 inches wide, 21 inches long, and 14 inches high weighing no more than 20 pounds.
Your bag of golf equipment is generally larger than average and will in all probability be considered as oversized luggage.
An average set of golf clubs weighs around 30 pounds.
There are no industry set restrictions for the cost of transporting oversized baggage such as golf bags.
It is advisable to clarify this with the airline before booking your flight.
I will highlight some areas which could result in considerable weight and cost-saving.
Small and lightweight bag
Take the lightest bag that will enable you to fit all the necessary clubs, apparel, and accessories. This will ensure that all your golfing requirements are in one place upon arrival at your destination.
A cart bag is a better option than a bulkier stand bag.
Your golf bag should be in good condition. Defects that allow your clubs to protrude could cause the airline to reject the bag.
Taking more than one golf bag on your travel could result in additional costs. You should attempt to put as many of the sets in one travel bag as possible.
Wear your golf clothes
Although golf apparel does not weigh much, you could save space and weight by wearing your golf gear or take it as carry-on baggage.
Importance of Durable Golf Travel Bag
You can either select a hard case that is not flexible but provides extra stiffness and protection, or a soft bag that offers a little more flexibility. Hard golf cases are more expensive than soft bags.
For optimal protection from a soft bag, you can place a crutch or broomstick that is slightly longer than your driver.
A new type of golf travel bag to provide you with the best of both worlds is the Hybrid golf travel bag. It is built for travel offering a more solid frame and a firm, not rigid, removable cover to protect your golf clubs.
See our guide to the best golf travel bags here.
Labeling the Golf Bag
Identifying your golf bag at the airport could be challenging especially if you are on a flight with several golfers.
To reduce the time searching for your golf travel bag at the airport, it is highly recommended that you add some unique markings to the bag.
Furthermore, you could add a label to your bag with your contact detail, both domestically and at your golfing location, in case the bag is misplaced or sent to the wrong location.
Put as much information as possible on the label without sacrificing your personal protection.
No connecting flights
Steer away from connecting flights whenever possible. The fewer times your baggage has to be processed, the less chance there is that your bag can be lost or sent to an incorrect destination.
Golf Club Protection Insurance
You value the quality of your clubs, which is one of the major reasons for taking it on holiday with you. Although insurance adds peace of mind, these premiums can be pretty expensive adding another expense to your holiday spend.
To speed up the claims process you should take pictures beforehand.
Insurers will offer specific travel insurance just for golfing providing cover for the following conditions:
- Damage or loss of your clubs
- Coverage for the actual transportation
- Coverage for loss of green time that you paid for
How Much Does it Cost to Fly with Golf Clubs?
There are many airlines that will fly you and your golf clubs to your holiday or travel destination. To ensure that your trip starts on the right footing, you should research the airlines that fly the route before finalizing your decision and purchase the tickets.
A question that is frequently asked is “do golf bags fly free?”
Let’s take a look at the price and offerings from some of the most popular airlines:
Golf Clubs on Southwest Airlines
Do golf bags fly free on Southwest Airlines?
Southwest Airlines allows you to check 2 bags in for free that conforms to its requirements.
You can check your golf clubs in as one of the 2 free baggage provided it does not exceed the 50 pound and 62-inch limit for free baggage.
Baggage that exceeds the limits will be charged excess weight and size fees. Weight fees are $75 per bag weighing more than 50 pounds up to 100 pounds
Every bag after the 2nd one will be charged at $75 per bag.
Golf clubs on JetBlue
You can take your golf clubs on any JetBlue flight at no additional charge or oversized fee provided your baggage remains within weight restrictions of 100 pounds.
If your baggage exceeds the 100 pounds weight limit, it will be rejected. The golf bag will count towards the total number of checked bags.
JetBlue defines golf equipment as one golf bag containing not more than:
- Fourteen golf clubs
- Three golf balls
- One pair of golf shoes
Golf equipment must be stored in a hard-sided container. However, JetBlue will accept a soft-sided travel bag, but will not accept liability for damage to the bag or contents.
Golf Clubs on Delta Airlines
Delta Airlines will allow you to book most sports equipment baggage on your trip and will charge standard checked baggage fees. Your golf equipment must be packed in a durable protective container designed specifically for the equipment.
Your golf bag must be packaged within a hard-shell case or packed in a soft-sided golf travel bag. Soft bags will require you to sign a limited release.
Only one golf bag per passenger can be booked at standard charges. Overweight baggage fees apply to bags that exceed 50 lbs and bags cannot exceed 115 linear inches.
Bags that weigh more than 100 pounds or is longer than 115 linear inches (length + width + height) will be rejected.
Checked golf bag may only contain:
- One golf bag
- One set of golf clubs
- Golf balls and tees
- One pair of golf shoes
Golf Clubs on United Airlines
United Airlines allows one item of golf equipment per customer as checked baggage. The equipment must be encased in a rigid and heavy hard-sided case or soft-sided bag.
No liability will be accepted for golf equipment that is not in a hard-sided case.
An item of golf equipment consists of:
- One golf bag containing one set of golf clubs
- Golf balls
- One pair of golf shoes
Service charges for first or second checked bags may apply.
Standard fees are applicable for golfing bags measuring more than 62 total linear inches (length + width + height).
Additional fees will be charged for oversized checked bags.
Golf Club on Ryanair (Europe)
Ryanair is a budget airline that does not include baggage in its standard pricing conditions.
You can purchase up to 3 checked bags of 44 pounds at the initial booking or can be added to a booking up to 2 hours before the scheduled flight departure time.
Checked bags are charged per person, per one-way flight and prices vary depending on the route and travel dates.
Sporting equipment can be booked provided it does not exceed the 44-pound weight limit.
How to Pack Golf Clubs for Air Travel
Can I pack clothes in my golf travel bag?
Packing your golf clubs for the best protection requires some planning to optimize the weight of your baggage in total.
Remember that some airlines have specific allowances of what may be loaded into the golf bag.
Where possible and it is allowed by the airline, store 2 sets of clubs in one bag. Push towels or soft clothing between your golf clubs for extra protection.
Fill the pockets of your golf bag to minimize the size and weight of your carry-on baggage. Remove adjustable club heads to reduce the length of the bag required.
If not possible to remove the driver’s head, tape your longest iron to your driver with the iron head slightly above the driver’s head. This will provide extra protection for your driver’s head.
The same applies to your other woods. By taping a long iron to the wood, you can protect the clubhead of the wood.
For additional protection, it would be advisable to place the taped clubs in the center of your bag. Irons are stronger than woods and will be able to withstand some robust movement. Place the irons on the outer sides of your bag.
Airlines prefer not to have loose straps lying around. If you are planning to rent a cart for your rounds of golf, remove the shoulder straps
Flying Without a Travel Bag
Is it necessary to use a travel bag to house your set of golf clubs on your travels?
Benefits of not Using a Golf Travel Bag
- Cost – you do not have to invest in an expensive piece of golf equipment that you will only use when traveling by air.
- Storage constraints – golf travel bags are generally rather large and require substantial storage space whether it is at home or your holiday location.
- Weight saving – traveling without a golf travel bag can save you on excess weight fees.
Benefits of Using a Golf Travel Bag
- Protection against club damage – a golf travel bag provides extra protection for your golf clubs. It is possible to push towels and soft clothing in between your clubs for extra protection.
- Protection against bag damage – using a travel bag offers protection for your golf bag that you will use on the golf course. It prevents unsightly damage, marks, or even worse some tearing that could lead to lost accessories.
- Security – you will be able to lock your clubs into the golf travel bag which is near impossible to do with a normal bag.
Final Thoughts On Flying With Your Golf Clubs
Traveling abroad on a golfing holiday can be difficult and add a lot of frustration.
There are multiple ways that you can use to ensure that your clubs arrive undamaged at your golfing destination. These are generally quite expensive.
Making use of a golf travel bag could save you money and delays in booking in with excess luggage.
If you have any comments or tips, please add them to the comments below.
Lawrence Smelser is part of the Golfible editorial staff and is a freelance golf writer. Smelser has covered the PGA Tour and most recently the 2019 Masters. He holds a journalism Bachelor's degree from Texas A&M and a Master’s journalism degree from the University of North Texas