Last updated: 01:01 PM ET, Fri August 05 2016

Kelly Slater and Hawaiian Airlines Spar Over Transporting Boards

Entertainment | Rich Thomaselli | August 05, 2016

Kelly Slater and Hawaiian Airlines Spar Over Transporting Boards

PHOTO: Surfer Kelly Slater and Hawaiian Airlines are in a war of words. (Courtesy Hawaiian Airlines

Surfing icon Kelly Slater and some of his fellow surfers are in a beef with Hawaiian Airlines over the carrier’s baggage fees and the method in which its transports surf boards.

And the airline felt compelled to respond as it all played out over social media.

The issue started Tuesday when Slater followed an Instagram post by Hurley Surfwear founder Bob Hurley, who wrote about his dismay with Hawaiian Airlines after it charged him for having a third surfboard in his bag even though it fell under the weight restrictions.

Slater wrote on his own Instagram account that he, too, had the same issues with the airline recently, over the two-surfboard maximum limit despite it being less than the maximum weight.

“This topic just baffles me... @hawaiianairlines should rectify their policy. It's ridiculous and a default profit racket,” Slater wrote. “They made over $70M last year in oversize/overweight baggage charges.”

Slater said that while he loves Hawaiian Airlines he signed off on the post with a series of hashtags that included #dontflyhawaiianairlines, and said he knew other surfers that felt the same way about the airline’s surfboard policy. Comments on the post seemed to back him up.

“I go out of my way all year to avoid traveling on @hawaiianairlines because of their two boards in one bag rule,” commented pro surfer Dusty Payne.

“Yep Hawaiian air is blownnnnnnnnnn,” wrote pro surfer Mason Ho. “To get my three boards on the plane I had to pay extra and tell them I shaped the boards myself in a art class in school.”

That’s when enough was enough for Hawaiian Airlines.

The carrier jumped into the fray on Thursday with its own Instagram post directed at Slater.

“First, we take transporting your boards seriously. We understand their importance and do our best – not always successfully – to make sure they arrive in the same condition in which we accept them. There is a cost to that malama (care) – unlike a checked-in suitcase, our customer service team must hand-carry surfboards from acceptance to the belly of the plane and manually process them through security screening. Plus, we’re liable for damages if something goes wrong. The fees we charge are intended to cover those costs, and we try to keep them reasonable and competitive.

Second, we enforce some restrictions when it comes to checking in surfboards. The one that’s gotten a lot of attention this week is the limit of two boards per bag. That limit is based on our experience that it’s more likely boards will get damaged when three or more boards are packed together – damage for which we are rightly held liable. The majority of the other US airlines have the same rule, for the same reason.”

It will be interesting to see what the next move is for both Slater and the airline, given the amount of surfing competitions in Hawaii.


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