Flying with Brooms

One of my rink-mates is playing this weekend in her first Bonspiel, and I'll be playing in my second 'spiel at the end of the summer.

Both Bonspiels are within driving distance (7 hours or so) so she sent her gear ahead with someone who is driving, but that started the whole discussion of travelling with your Curling gear.

Thankfully, the Curling Stones belong to the club, and you don't need 84 pounds of granite in your checked luggage.

Dan from Fort Worth (a curling friend I hope to meet someday) says always put your shoes in your carry-on.  You can use a club broom if yours is lost in transit, but you generally can't replace shoes.  Not sure I remember how to use the club sliders.

Then there is your broom.

Airline policies all mention various things allowed in checked baggage, and all make exceptions for certain kinds of sporting equipment.

I'm not aware of a single airline that treats Golf Clubs as oversize baggage.

Not to pick on anyone in particular, but JetBlue allows Hockey or Lacrosse sticks and does not treat them as oversize.

Southwest currently allows two checked bags, and they accept Skis (snow or water) or Hockey or Lacrosse sticks as one of the checked bags.

(Southwest allows parachutes in checked or carry-on baggage, but a parachute may not be worn by a passenger while in flight -- I'm simply reporting)

No mention of Curling Brooms.

... I'd like to play up in Canada, and WestJet (a Canadian discount carrier) is now flying in to John Wayne Airport, so I checked their policy.

Hockey and Lacrosse sticks, okay, Ringette (yes, Ringette, I had to look it up) sticks are fine.  Oversize fees are waived, and Overweight fees if the bag contains only sports gear.

WestJet does not have a specific policy on Curling equipment.

So, I called them.

The Westjet agent was quite informative, and said that while they have no specifc policy, they would treat a Curling Broom the same as Hockey or Ringette sticks.

Other airlines said the same thing, that the rules are guidelines, and sporting equipment from one sport would likely be treated much like equipment from any other.

Curling brooms aren't heavy.  Brooms for a whole team will be well under 50 pounds.

Oversize, that's different.  My broom is 50" long.  The head is 3" x 9" -- this should be true of any broom that uses a Performance head.  I have a Goldline GLi.

Add that up, and it's just about exactly 62" -- the limit for oversize.

The smallest commercially available bags are roomy. 

So, rather than rely on airline personnel recognizing that one ice sport is like most any other, I decided I could have a bag that was under the limit, or at least close enough.

I live close to the ocean, which means there are many good canvas shops.  A local sailmaker said they'd make a canvas bag for around $100, to fit.

I mentioned that to my Mom and she said "I'll make it!"  Mom has her own sewing business,  Before you ask, she is not branching out into curling bags.

What she made for me looks exactly like a Hawaiian-Print fabric Rifle case, wide enough to fit the broom head at one end, tapering to the size of the handle at the other.

It's lightly paded (to not add bulk) .

Yes, I did get comments going through the airport.  On the outbound flight, the agent wrote "curling broom" on the case, and the TSA did not inspect it.  It's not heavy enough to be a gun.

Coming back, the senior agent was intrigued by the fact that I was checking my broom.  I did not hand it directly to the TSA and the TSA "we inspected your luggage" flyer was in my bag when I got home.

... and Southwest did not charge for my checked bag or my broom in either direction.  Your airline may vary.

Posted April 17, 2011, Updated July 27, 2011