Vail skiers cope with hefty airline costs | AspenTimes.com

Vail skiers cope with hefty airline costs

Melanie Wong
Vail correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. ” Skiing isn’t exactly the most equipment-light sport, and many Beaver Creek and Vail skiers and snowboarders are rethinking their baggage before getting on the plane to Colorado.

Baggage fees can get hefty, as some airlines are charging extra to check in even one bag, and oversize luggage fees are rising. The costs have some vacationers looking for alternatives to flying with skis, such as renting, or shipping them via UPS.

Chris and Brooke Mackenzie, of Orange County, Calif., said they flew Southwest, which allowed two check-in bags and didn’t charge oversize fees for the skis. However, they said that in the future it might be easier and cheaper to rent skis instead.

“I wouldn’t mind trying nice, new demos,” Brooke Mackenzie said. “I would definitely consider it.”

Memphis resident and second-home owner Tommy Farnsworth said his family usually leaves its skis here, but might consider renting if he had to fly with them.

“Yes, I’d certainly weigh it if I were flying with my skis,” he said. “It’s significant and we’re weighing everything else right now. We’ve also shipped things out here before by UPS. That might be an option.”

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Some have speculated that baggage costs will bring more business to ski shops, but shop owners say it is difficult to gauge.

“With the economy, people are renting less skis. But then again it’s always busy around Christmas,” said Barry Parent, of Vail Ski Tech in Vail.

He’s heard customers say the price and hassle of bringing skis as baggage isn’t worth it, he added.

Buzz Schleper, owner of Buzz’s Ski Shop and Buzz’s Boards in Vail, agreed with the assessment.

“It’s hard to say because we rent out a lot over Christmas, anyway” he said. “However, I’ve had a couple customers that bought demo skis saying they’ll leave a pair here and then leave another pair at home.”

Some of his customers have commented on the steep baggage prices ” some said that some airlines were charging $100 each way to fly skis.

“We’re definitely getting people preferring the option for rentals,” said Deb Benjamin, of Venture Sports in Avon. “I’m getting a lot of comments from renters that they’re glad they don’t have to deal with the hassle of flying with skis.”

Some are choosing to skip flying altogether and drive instead.

Ted Jankowski and his family drove 15 hours down from Bloomington, Ill., after weighing airline ticket prices and baggage fees.

“Each extra bag would have been $25,” he said. “Between the boot bag, skis and a suitcase, that’s $75 per person.”

Gas prices are down, he added ” such as the $1.38 per gallon gas he got in Kansas City.

“That made it a no-brainer,” he said.

Dallas resident Fritz Asche said he usually rents skis, but would probably not fly if it meant paying extra to bring skis.

“It’s highway robbery,” he said of the baggage fees. “I’d probably think about driving as opposed to the airline (if I had skis).”

mwong@vaildaily.com

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