I usually fly to the Alps with Easyjet, as I find its flights the most convenient, flexible and frequent from my local airport. After noticing in June that the airline’s fee for sports equipment (and therefore ski carriage) had risen to £25 each way – up from £18.50 last winter; see here – I was keen to work out a way still to take all my stuff yet to keep my costs down.
The cost of ski carriage crops up regularly in threads on the ski forum Snowheads, and last summer I “talked” to people on the site who had successfully transported a ski bag stuffed with other clothing and equipment, and not consigned a regular bag (fee: £9 each way).
According to Easyjet’s own website (for relevant section see here), a ski bag is allowed to weigh up to 32kg. (Oddly, if you consign a regular piece of luggage as well, the total weight for both items remains 32kg.)
I decided to make this my new system. I bought an oversized, padded, 190cm Dakine ski bag with two wheels at one end (about £80 from Edge & Wax, including a Ski Club of GB 10pc discount).
In it, on my way back from Italy yesterday, I packed two pairs of skis, my ski touring boots, other hardware such as sticks, shovel and probe, plus my ski clothing and a few other bits and bobs – a good few, actually, including clothing and two bottles of wine I won in a raffle on new year’s eve (one in each ski boot). In fact, all that was left to go in my hand-luggage-rucksack was my laptop, camera and picnic.
After an hour queuing at Milan Malpensa on one of the busiest travel days of the year, the moment of truth approached. The check-in supervisor frowned as he weighed in the ski bag at 27kg and attached to it a “HEAVY” tag. “Just sports equipment, is it?” he asked. I nodded and hurried off to give it to Signor Bulky Items before he changed his mind or suggested opening it up to check.
The main point of this post, however, is to tell you how deceptively tricky those huge, wheely ski bags are to manhandle around the place, especially if stuffed to capacity. (It didn’t help that I was also probably stuffed to capacity, too, after five days enjoying Alagna’s lovely restaurants.)
Sure, if there are no corners, steps, winding routes or narrow corridors, the bag is quite easy to pull along. But throw in a train or bus journey, a few flights of stairs, a queue, a trip to the loo, a walk along the busy departures hall, a snowy path, or anything that requires you to hold the bag upright or take it around a bend, and it’s a struggle.
So yes, ignoring the outlay, so far the baggage system has saved me an almighty £9. But it was a little nerve-wracking as I am not a good liar, and I did arrive home with rather sore arms…