United Just Made It a Lot Easier to Chase Swells to California

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This summer and fall seem like they’ve had more tropical storms than ever before—not a week goes by that there isn’t a hurricane bearing down on Hawaii or spinning off the coast of Mexico, or a typhoon running over Guam or the Philippines. All of that tropical storm activity means a lot of interesting swells from unique angles, and this week’s Walaka swell was no exception. The last remnants of the Walaka swell are slowing fading away, but there is already another hurricane churning in the east Pacific, and this one looks like a doozy. Hurricane Sergio is currently sending swell to Southern California, and is expected to double back on itself and send an even bigger pulse of SW swell late next week. With all of this hurricane activity, it can be tempting to start chasing swells full time. Why not score Walaka this week then fly to California for Sergio next week?! Of course, chasing swells like that can be a bit cost prohibitive, especially when you add board bag fees on top of your typical airfare costs. But it appears that United Airlines wants you to chase as many swells as possible, because on October 5, as the Walaka swell washed away the buoy at Ala Moana Bowls, the US carrier announced that it would no longer charge board fees for flights originating or ending in California. In other words, if you want to chase Hurricane Sergio to San Diego, you can do so for the cost of your ticket, but without paying for your boards—a savings of $300-400! United’s announcement comes on the heels of surfing being named the “state sport” of California. “As California’s global airline, we knew what we had to do when surfing was named the state sport: waive the service fees for surfboards, on all flights to or from California,” tweeted United. This is great news for Hawaiian surfers hoping to score some waves in the Golden State, and also great for surfers from California who plan to visit the islands (as well as the local businesses that cater to them). This new policy by United is likely also a way to stay competitive with Hawaiian Airlines and Alaskan Airlines, which both recently changed their board bag policies. Hawaiian used to allow only two boards in a bag, but recently lifted that embargo; and Alaskan Airlines did away with their board bag fee last year as well, making it cheaper for surfers to travel on the carrier. But the main purpose of the new policy, according to United, is simply to celebrate surfing. "California made it official: surfing is our state sport. We want to make it easier for customers to surf our beautiful beaches, whether they're visiting or call the Golden State home," said Janet Lamkin, United's president for California. "This partnership continues our commitment to the environment by supporting an organization like Sustainable Surf, which helps keep our beaches beautiful." United Airlines might not realize it, but surfing has been the state sport of Hawaii since 1998. If California gets free boards, we should too! Sure, we can now fly our boards to California for free under the new policy, but we go other places too! Let’s get the word out to United, and see if we can’t get free boards on all United flights!

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