Savvy Snowboard Traveler

You’ve heard the horror stories. A snowboarder saved his or her pennies for a dream trip to Jackson Hole or Whistler only to have the airline lose their snowboard bag. Airline policies on lost or damaged luggage vary, but here are a few helpful tips to keep you from sitting in the lodge when flying with your snowboards.

• Airlines assume no responsibility for your bags if not checked in at least fifteen minutes before departure. When they tell you to check in an hour prior to departure, they’re not kidding. No matter how valuable your stuff is, if you’re not at the ticket counter by their deadline, you’re risking losing your gear–for good.

• If your bag does not arrive, report it to the airline immediately. Be prepared to describe the bags and their contents, and give the agent the address and phone number of where you’ll be staying.

• Airlines vary in how they handle lost or damaged bags. Standard liability among airlines is limited to 1,250 dollars for each passenger. If your gear is worth more, you can purchase what is called “excess valuation.” It’s basically a form of insurance. The cost: about two dollars per 100 dollars of coverage. So for twenty dollars you can get 1,000 dollars worth of coverage. Bags will be tagged with a special tag to help prevent handlers from misrouting your luggage. But just to be on the safe side, don’t pack any valuables or items of great sentimental value in your luggage–carry them onto the plane

• If a bag is delayed, airlines will typically compensate for reasonable, documented expenses incurred as a result of that delay. For example, if you’re traveling with your board, boots, and bindings, it’s reasonable to think you would rent equipment until yours shows up. It’s unreasonable, on the other hand, to go out and purchase brand-new, top-of-the-line equipment. Ask for the company’s policy on “interim expenses,” as each airline has it’s own timeline and definition of what qualifies as delayed.

• If a bag is lost, airlines will typically reimburse you for your loss. You will be required to provide a complete list of contents, date purchased, and price paid. Reimbursement will be determined by purchase price less depreciation for use. Remember, unless you purchased excess valuation, the maximum you will be reimbursed is 1,250 dollars, even if you lost multiple bags.

For more travel information, call the airlines directly or check out www.onetravel.com for additional travel advice or help.

–Robyn Hakes