Much thanks for accepting this as the answer to your question.
A long-term solution would also be your best short-term option as well, and
that would be to buy some boot bags and hard ski cases. This makes the most
financial and logistical sense.
Sportube is a popular maker of hard ski cases, and they make several sizes.
"series 1 (one pair)"
"series 2 (two pair)"
If you went with 4 of the Series 1 cases, cost direct from Sportube would be
around $500. The cost of 2 of the Series 2 would be around $400 shipped.
The above are available for less from other sources, such as online stores,
but it appears most of them stock these cases on a seasonal basis.
As an example, the CozyWinters website has the Series 1 case for $89.95 with
free shipping, but is currently out of stock. They appear to restock around
this time of year though.
As you have until December to get cases, I would suggest you wait a few weeks
and do a Froogle search on: Sportube single
The Sportube website points out an advantage beyond the obvious one of having
a hard case for the extra protection over a soft or plastic bag.
"All Sportube cases are accepted by the airlines
In fact, certain airlines are actually supporting the use of hard cases by
including in their Contracts of Carriage verbiage such as:
Liability release form required on plastic [bag]/ soft [nylon] ski bags only.
Execution of liability release form not required on hard-shell cases."
They go on to cover the costs of transport on the plane, which could be free.
"Sportube cases are allowed at no additional cost, assuming you are within the
airlines? baggage limitations as defined under their Contracts of Carriage.
Typically, an airline will have a free checked baggage allowance for 2 to 3
bags (depending on their rules) per paying passenger.
In lieu of one bag, the airline will typically allow 1 set of ski equipment (1
pair of skis, poles, boots, and bindings) per passenger."
If you do check in your skis on the plane, make sure to use the included wire
case pin instead of a lock on your ski case, because of security regulations.
The US Airways (USAir) website supports the above statements.
Ski equipment may be accepted in the normal free baggage allowance in lieu of
a piece of baggage. One unit of ski equipment consists of:
- One pair of skis or one snowboard
- One pair of ski poles
- One pair of ski bindings
- One pair of ski boots
US Airways will accept double ski bags, however, the maximum free allowance,
per passenger, is one pair of skis, one pair of ski boots, one pair of ski
poles and one pair of ski bindings.
The passenger must provide acceptable encasement/packaging for the ski
equipment, such as fiberglass or cloth bag to protect the ski equipment and
to prevent damage to other bags. (US Airways may provide plastic ski bags if
available). If the ski equipment is not properly packaged/protected, the
customer assumes all risk of damage."
US Airways allows 3 bags (2 checked and 1 carry-on) total per passenger, so
your ski equipment would be counted against those allowances.
Even if you do not take advantage of the essentially free transport of your
skis, when you own your own cases you can use the option of shipping your
skis ahead of your travel.
Through UPS it would cost around $20 (ground) to $45 (3 day select) to ship
each set of skis in a case.
There is a wide range of ski boot bags out there, starting at $17.95 and
Google's Froogle service can help you find the right ones.
The above solution could save you hundreds of dollars after the first season,
so I have no doubt this is the best route for you to take. This could mean
an extra ski trip here and there, so all the better.
If you need any clarification, please feel free to ask.
Skiers abound in my family, and I have seen many a ski (and parts of skis)
come through the airport on their way to the slopes.
Looking Forward, denco-ga - Google Answers Researcher