Flying with your boat - Mountain Buzz

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Old 11-17-2003   #1
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 21
Flying with your boat

Just a follow-up to my post about flying a boat to Ecuador. Plus I have seen a few other posts about the topic.

I flew American and got a bunch of different answers from the reservations poeple. When I got to the airport, they tried to shoot me down. Bottom line, their policy is that they do take white water kayaks. The ladies were real nasty about it, but the supervisor cleared the way. Make them add it to your reservation and get it in writing.

It was worth it to have my own boat down there. The folks at Small World Adventures were great.

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Old 11-17-2003   #2
Central, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 106

Hey David, I'm going there early next year, and was thinking of renting boats from Small World. I'd be curious to hear more about why you thought it was worth flying with boats. How much did it cost? I presume you flew to Quito and then took the bus to Tena? Was it a t all a hassle? Seems like Small World has a bunch of boats to rent for fairly reasonable prices -- 2 weeks' rental would be close to what I'd have to pay American, I thought.

Any recommendations and thoughts appreciated. Thanks,

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Old 11-17-2003   #3
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 21
First, there is nothing like having your own boat. They do have a good fleet and I know that most everyone was pretty happy.

I was with a group, so I got picked-up and dropped off. If you are going solo, you better know some Spanish or be with someone who does. The folks at small world are great people. I would not advise taking on the rivers there without them, unless you are a hardcore boater and the country is very rural, very rural.

Feel free to email me.

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Old 11-21-2003   #4
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 205
Hassled by luggage trolls while going to Costa Rica

Don't trust what the reservationists say. Get it in writing no matter what. I had to debate the issue with United Airlines for about 45 minutes, the women at the counter were union trolls. They had no regard for the customer, logic, or their business. Initially the oversize baggage trolls said, "that'll be $200," and I said, "that's $40 more than American charges round-trip. "Honey, that's one way and you're flying with United." "What?!?!" I said. I told them I had names of reservationists, I called to confirm 3 times, I requested the note be put in the reservation - it wasn't - so, cover your bases. I ended up paying $100 to fly my boat down and I sold it while in Costa Rica because I didn't want to deal with the hassle coming back, clearing customs and then re-checking the boat.
Looks like you've been missing a lot of work lately.

I wouldn't say I've been *missing* it, Bob.
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Old 11-23-2003   #5
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 41
I have flown to chile on american a couple of times and found that it is important that you not walk up to the ticket counter like the stereo typical kayaker (unshaven in a ratty tee shirt and acting like it is your right to fly with your boat).
The best luck that I have had is showing up clean shaven with a nice clean button up shirt and a smile.
It is not always the best idea to come right out and say that you have a kayak with you there are some more creative ways to describe your baot so that the person at the counter will understand that you are not trying to get a 14 foot fiberglass boat on the plane.
I have not had any problems with american to date but i will be flying on delta this season. The other guy that i am flying with has flown delta in the past with the same success that i had with american.
Wish me luck

Meng don't worry it will all work out and you will be able to have boats one way or another
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Old 11-24-2003   #6
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 569
I was shut down in a major way on Delta this fall. Official policy is no kayaks. Everyone that I have talked to has run into a similar problem with Delta. Stay away from them if you are flying a boat.
friend of the fork, knife, and spoon
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Old 11-25-2003   #7
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 21
I found this website perusing the Internet,

I suggest that we write letters to petition the airlines. If they receive a bunch of letters they will have to do something. I am sending one to American after my conversasion with their customer service department. Their so called official policy is that they do not take them and I was grinding him about whitewater boat specs. Typical tow-the-line policy. I am going to send one to each airline I have mileage numbers with.
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Old 11-26-2003   #8
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 17
I've flown with my boat a lot and the only outfit that doesn't hassle me is United. They sometimes charge "triple oversize" which can be up to $200 each way- but a couple times there was no charge either. It's always different I think the whole thing about setting it up in advance is questionable. The desk gestapo are there to stop you and feed you into THEIR computer and they don't wanna talk about what someone else said. Just show up expecting to pay and be patient and nice. One good technique is to tell them it is a "surf boat"- that chokes the computer. Then, when they can find/digitize you- tell them it's a good bit smaller than a windsurfer. That gets you in about as cheap and easy as you can go. If they tell you it has to go "Cargo"--DON'T do it- it'll be forever in the customs clearing house and you may have to pay a deposit to prove it isn't merchandise.
good luck,
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Old 11-26-2003   #9
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Yeah, United is the way to go. I've flown United numerous times and have always ended up paying $80/boat nationally and $86 internationally. Thats the deal and dont let them tell you otherwsie. Dont let em charge you oversize for your paddle qualifies as your second checked bag. If you dont have a paddle bag, the plastic ski bags at the counter will help get it there. I've always called ahead to confirm, which last trip I did saved me about $400.... This had to do with 'baggage agreements' which is a policy between different airlines in which they will share the costs of taking the boat if your itinerary includes flights on more than one airline. If you book a multi-airline itinerary, call to make sure the two companies have a baggage agreement and see how much the whole thing will be. That way, the check in clerk wont get their jollies charging you twice.

BTW, I'm flying United/Lan Chile to Chile this year even though its costing me $200 more than Delta or American, just to be sure I can get my boats there. Hopefully these companies will soon realize the financial losses they incur by not flying boats.
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