How to Fly With Inflatables

Air travel is stressful enough as it is. Between rideshares, security lines, and airlines canceling flights at their fancy, the last thing you want to do is worry about how to fly with your inflatable paddle board or kayak.

The good news? You don’t need to worry. These days, it’s never been easier to fly with inflatable products. Between BOTE’s super lightweight SUPs and our ridiculously portable and packable carry bags, flying with inflatables is pretty much as simple as checking a bag.

So, if you’re looking for inflatable SUPs for travel, you’ve come to the right place. And if you’re looking for tips and tricks on how to fly with your inflatable products, well—fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the ride.

Benefits of Inflatable SUPs for Travel

It might sound simple, but it’s true: The best part about flying with your own inflatable SUP or kayak is that, well, you get to have your board with you. There’s something refreshingly reassuring about that. You don’t need to rely on rental shops where the quality of boards might not be all that reliable. Instead, you know exactly what’s in your travel bag and exactly how it performs to suit your needs.

“The overreaching convenience of having an inflatable SUP is that you can actually take your watercraft with you. This goes for driving in a car or for flying. Put simply, having your stuff with you is great. With inflatables, you can do that with ease.”
- Rob McAbee, BOTE Creative Director

In other words, inflatable products always win on two fronts: portability and packability. They not only go where you go, but they can also go how you go, whether by plane, train, or automobile.

Ease of Use with BOTE Inflatables

One of the major things that set BOTE inflatables apart when it comes to air travel is their sheer ease of portability. All BOTE inflatable products can be packed down into one easy-to-use, easy-to-carry bag. So you can take your adventure just about anywhere a suitcase fits. Whether you’re jetting off to explore a tropical paradise or hiking into the wild to find that perfectly serene fishing spot, kayak and SUP inflatables from BOTE make excellent travel companions. Plus, the included waterproof backpack and three-piece adjustable paddle make storage simple in very little space.

Tips & Tricks for Flying with Inflatable SUPs

Alright, let’s get down to the dirty details. When it comes to air travel with inflatable SUPs, there are a few simple yet effective ways to maximize your experience.

Check the Different Airline Policies

First up, one of the most important things you can do is practice a little due diligence regarding the specific airline you’ll be flying. Different airlines have different luggage allowances, capacities, weight limits, and prices. Checking with the airline to see their rules and regulations and what it might cost to carry your SUP travel bag is the first order of business for any air travel SUP transport.

Think About Your Final Destination

Chances are, if you’re choosing to fly with your inflatable SUP or kayak in the first place, you’re likely going to a destination where there’s epic paddling. And the thing about great paddling is that it usually exists in areas that are a little more off the beaten path. So, it’s crucial to think about those secondary flights in addition to the main commercial ones—you know, the puddle jumpers and the floatplanes, the single engines and the tiny charters. There are inherent challenges in these types of smaller planes, especially as it relates to specific weight distributions. Usually, it’s not an issue. But it’s better to have an understanding of secondary flights or, in some cases, even to give the captain a heads up on your baggage.

Utilize All Extra Space in Your SUP Travel Bag

One of the cool things about BOTE inflatables is that you can use the bags to utilize extra space in them for spare clothes, PFD’s, and any other loose gear or luggage that you want to squeeze in. For most airlines, the average weight allowance for checked bags is 50lbs. With an inflatable like the Breeze Aero 11′6″, the loaded bag weight comes out to 28lbs. So, you can easily fill the difference with extra gear and personal items.

“Our attention to detail—especially on the travel bags themselves—is one thing that sets us apart. Our products are just better made.”
- Rob McAbee, BOTE Creative Director

Think About Your BOTE Board of Choice

The loaded bag weight of a particular BOTE board or kayak brings up a good point. Whereas the Breeze is super lightweight, other BOTE inflatables can skew heavier. The Rackham Aero 11′, for instance, is a larger and heavier product to fly with by nature. An inflatable kayak like the LONO Aero is also relatively large and heavy. So, it’s important to keep in mind the inherent characteristics of the board you choose to fly with, as well as your intended paddling goals upon arrival. If you’re embarking on an intensive fishing expedition, by all means, opt for a feature-rich board like the Rackham or a fishing machine like the LONO. If, however, you’re just going for recreational paddling, then something like the Breeze might be a better pick, as it’s a smaller, lighter, and therefore easier board to run through an airport with.

BOTE Inflatables In the Air and In the Wild

Maybe the most indicative testimonial we can provide for the ability of BOTE inflatables to go the distance (both in air and in water) was the trip our team took to Canada’s Division No. 18 a few years ago.

Far in the northern reaches of Saskatchewan is an impenetrable land of lakes, bogs, boreal forests, and legendary fishing beyond your wildest dreams. The American state of Minnesota gets a lot of love for being the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” That’s cute, thinks Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, there are 100,000 lakes. AKA, more lakes than there are people in all of Division No. 18 (the northern half census area of the Saskatchewan province).

Here we embarked on the paddle fishing excursion of a lifetime. In fact, the BOTE crew were the first people ever to bring SUPs to the area. And getting them there—though a small lesson in logistics—was ultimately super manageable.

“Practically speaking, it was actually pretty easy. We took four different boards. Four different planes. Including two commercial flights, one bush plane, and one floatplane. We wanted to show people that you can easily take a number of different inflatables on a number of different planes, and show that it’s really not a difficult process.”
- Rob McAbee, BOTE Creative Director

In short, if you can fly to a place like Saskatchewan’s Division No. 18 with inflatable SUPs, then you can fly anywhere with them.

Shop the Journal

Breeze Aero 11′6″
Inflatable Paddle Board

Classic Teak

Rackham Aero 11′
Inflatable Paddle Board

Full Trax Jade

LONO Aero 12′6″
Inflatable Kayak

Native Aqua