The Surfer's Guide to Costa Rica - Airlines

There are now a ton of flights going into Costa Rica, so it’s quite
convenient. In fact, a New York City surfer can get into the
lineup just as fast as a Malibu surfer, it’s that easy. From the U.
S. you can take America West, American, Continental, Copa,
Delta, LACSA, Taca or Mexicana, depending on your departure
point. You might try to stick to the domestic carriers for fewer
hassles, like stopovers added to the itinerary after you’ve
booked, losing your seat to overbooking or having your seat
assignments changed without warning.

There are plenty of ways to plan and book air travel, from the
“back in the day” method of calling the local travel agency to
online discount travel sites to going straight to the source, the
airline itself. Getting a good deal on airfare requires time to spare
for three things.
First, you need time to hunt down your fare, as they change frequently, even within a single day. So the sooner you
start hunting the better. Second, you need free time away from obligations to allow for schedule flexibility, i.e., you
cannot be bound to fixed dates. If you can be flexible by even a days or two before and after your preferred travel
dates you can save hundreds of dollars. Third, you need time to spend on long layovers – not always, but it’s often the
key to the best fare.

Here’s a fourth, but it doesn’t require extra time: ITA is the company that developed QPX, the
travel search engine that powers the most of the other travel search sites. So you get everything you’ll find at Kayak,
Orbitz, Hotwire, Cheaptickets, SideStep, Galileo and even most of the airlines themselves, but without the ads and
other hassles. And it’s faster, simpler and better organized than the others.

Here's something to make the time go better: SeatGuru is a resource for airplane seating, in-flight
amenities and other airline information, like whether or not there's a power port to plug in your laptop. So if you want to
be near the bathroom (older surfers), an exit row (tall surfers), or near the kitchen (bored surfers), SeatGuru helps
you find that seat.

It used to be that you had one airport option if flying from the U.S., the San José airport called Juan Santamaria (SJO).
That wasn’t a problem if you were heading straight to the Central Pacific. But if your destination was Guanacaste you
were looking at what was a six hour drive to the Tamarindo area, and more if heading to the Nicoya area beaches.
Now you can fly directly into Liberia’s Daniel Oduber International Airport, cutting your drive to Tamarindo down to an

As mentioned, all airlines have limits on the number of bags, maximum weight for an individual bag, and maximum total
weight for all of your bags. And they all charge extra baggage fees for surfboards. For example, LACSA’s limit is two
bags weighing a total of 100 pounds with no single bag weighing more than 50 pounds. Exceed these numbers and
pay extra. Or travel first class for higher limits. Or book through a surf tour operator and sometimes board fees are
included in the package.

To make matters worse (for some), some airlines will not accept longboards. But wait, there’s more. Some airlines won’
t accept any surfboards at all during what they call “blackout” periods. Blackout periods vary by airline and time of
year, so check ahead.

Below are the most popular airlines from the U.S. and their one-way board fees. You can also check
Surfline for their
semi-regular update on airline surfboard fees. Again, be sure to call ahead for restrictions (e.g., length, weight, number
of boards). That being said, what the agent tells you on the phone and what really happens when checking in at the
airport are often different. Oh well…

Excerpted from The Surfer's Guide to Costa Rica & SW Nicaragua, available at
Board Fees
American Airlines
US Air
Copa Airlines
Delta Air Lines
$100 but
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