Back in August of 2020 I invested in a kickstarter project for an Origami Paddleboard, I loved the idea, my adult daughter is not home often and the idea of one that could fit the car and not need pumping up, seemed ideal.
It was my second attempt at a kickstarter project, my first being for a rum bottle, and I was really pleased with that. I travel a lot and saved on shipping by having it delivered to my hotel next time I was in the US.
That was my plan for the paddleboard. The first covid lockdown was over, and we were still working from home, but I didn't expect it to continue for too long, so was happy with the plan.
The fund was a success and in April 2021 shipping within the US started. At this stage there was no sight of returning to work travel so I looked at it eventually being shipped to Europe. With issues around supply chain globally, and specifically my new border-non-border where I live in N Ireland, and no idea about import duty, I was at a loss about what to do.
Then I changed jobs, and found myself travelling again to the US, so opted for bringing it home via a plane, after all the website said it only weighed 45 Lb, (about 21Kg) so it should be easy. I am top status with British Airways and am allowed 3 pieces at 32KG (70 Lb) each, so no problem.
It was eventually delivered to a colleague in May and his first comment was "It's a very big box!"
"Don't worry, was my reply, I'm gold with British Airways, almost unlimited luggage".
A few weeks later I was in the office and saw the box. It was very big.
Panicking a little, especially after another colleague suggested it may be too big a box. I looked a BA's website. 90 x 75 x 43cm (35.5 x 29.5 x 16in). Pretty generous so should be OK, but then we got out the tape measure. 90 x 80 x38 (35.5 x 32 x15) just a tiny bit too big.
I emailed them and they did reply but simply sent me a link to the website.
Then I phoned them, spending almost an hour to get through. They do have some exceptions for sporting goods. If it was a bike, there would be no issue it can be enormous! There is a paragraph about Kayaks, and this does convert into a kayak. It says "you can take short surfboards and small kayaks with paddles in a protective bag as part of your checked baggage as long as the packed bag is under 190cm in length." - well it is only 90cm so that should be OK. Whilst he agreed the agent said it was open to interpretation and wouldn't give me an email - just told me to turn up and see what happened.
Now, I specialise in worrying, so we opened the box to see if we could remove any packaging but there wasn't anything.
My colleagues all though it would be fine. The baggage staff probably don't work for British Airways as there is only 2 flights a day at peak, and 'everything is bigger in Texas' anyway.
Not convinced I decided on a plan B. A colleague would take me to the airport, drop me off and then wait nearby for the all OK. If they refused it then they would take it back to the office and next time I came over I would travel with American or United who both have a total dimensions must not exceed .... policy, which would be fine.
On the day, we resealed the box, and I added superior string with a breaking limit of 100 Lb to make it very secure and add ways to lift box.
My colleagues helped me to the truck, making a big deal about the size, It took 4 of us to get it in the elevator.
But once we got to the airport, I was on my own. Not only the box, but also my other luggage. I had been in the US for 5 weeks and also a quick trip to Mexico scuba diving for which I had bought my own equipment with me, so let's just say a lot of luggage. But with one hand on the luggage cart, my hand luggage on my back and dragging the other case behind me, all was good.
What a non event, the agent never even battered an eye lid. I asked if I needed to take it to outside baggage and she said no, they had their own porters to do that. Total checked weight 78KG 171 Lb (scuba is heavy).
Off I went to the lounge, to ring my colleague, let him leave, and then to relax. My flight was delayed, having previously been moved from an earlier time slot, and once I got to London, I had another 8 hours before I finally got back to my home airport. However I know my box was travelling so I was fine with it.
When I finally arrived at my airport, a young baggage handler pushed the box out into arrivals and asked who owned it. "Me" I squeaked and loaded up another cart. Small panic when I realised it might not get it through the narrow exit of the arrivals hall, but I managed it, just.
My normal taxi driver laughed as he loaded up the car. Back seat needed as well as the normal boot / trunk. And finally I was home.
The box had been opened, my beautiful string cut, but inside the box, was a lovely note from TSA explaining their right to do so. It wasn't damaged, so that's OK, I suspect they were simply intrigued. The box does say what is inside.
So alls well that ends well. Let's just hope the daughter likes it.