Here are the ski baggage charges for winter 2010/11 from most major airlines that fly to airports close to popular European ski resorts.
Austrian Airlines – free
Baboo – free
British Airways – £28-35 each way
bmibaby – £17.99-23 each way**
easyJet – £18.50-£26 each way**
Flybe – £30 each way (skis only)
Jet 2 – £25-£30 each way** (skis only)
Ryanair – £40-£50 eachway (skis only)**Snowjet – £18-£36 each way**
Swiss – free
**Cost of ski carriage can be reduced to the lower figure by paying online when you book your ticket
If we start by looking at the average rate from the list above of 10 airlines the average price of return ski carriage is £35.50. This is taking the cheapest possible option from each airline, which is available when booked on-line. When compared to ski hire in a large European resort this represents good value for money as you can pay upto £200 for 6 days ski and boot hire in some resorts. However, this is only how it looks at a quick glance.
You would expect most people to look for the cheapest available flights for a holiday, which would therefore usually leave you with the major low cost airlines listed above, which includes Ryanair, easy Jet, Jet 2 and bmi baby. For example a return flight from London to Geneva in February 2011 costs £48 with easyJet where as with Baboo it costs £101 on the same day. So even though Baboo offer free ski carriage it still works out to only £85 with easyjet including ski hire so you would presume that most people would book with easyJet and not Baboo.
So if the low cost airlines are charging upto £100 return for ski carriage what can you do to reduce your ski holiday cost when it comes to equipment? Sometimes ski holiday companies offer free equipment hire in ski packages but this is unlikely to be something you can bank on as it usually comes as a last minute offer or a special deal for one week of the season. In larger resorts you can often book ski hire on-line before you head off on your holiday, which can save you upto 50% in some cases just search the web, look around and there are plenty of options. The obvious problem with this however is that you then need to try and find the shop once you arrive in resort, which isn’t so easy as hiring through your tour operator who will take you to the ski hire shop or deliver equipment to your hotel, which again works out slightly more expensive than the discounted rates available on-line.
Undoubtedly the best value option in terms of beating the airline baggage costs for ski hire is available in Poland. For ski or snowboard hire in Zakopane, Poland you pay just £25-£35 for a week, every week throughout the winter. So a family of 4 would pay £100 TOTAL for ski hire. Compare that to either buying and taking your own equipment as airline baggage at £100 per person or hiring equipment on-line in larger resorts for £100 per person and a family of 4 could save £300 JUST on ski hire. A saving of £300 just on ski hire wouldn’t be far off the cost of a complete holiday package for 1 family member in Poland.
Hiring equipment may only be one part of a ski holiday but with the variable rates available in resort and on-line it is well worth looking into the options before you decide to take your own equipment or before you select your holiday destination.