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As a family, we usually go on holiday about once a year.
We often go to Turkey around the end of May as it’s not too hot, not too busy and the sea is already quite warm.
However, one thing I miss when I go is playing a bit of tennis.
Many hotels have tennis courts and some specialise in offering coaching and activities for adults and children.
I guess for holidaymakers who go on tennis holidays regularly, one of the main issues is whether to bring your own tennis gear with you, or just use what the hotel or sports club provide.
For anyone who plays the sport seriously, you’ll definitely want to use your own racket as that’s what you’re comfortable using.
However, what’s the policy on bringing tennis rackets with you on holiday. Is it fairly straightforward?
In this article, let’s take a look at whether they can be carried with you on an airplane.
Can you bring tennis rackets on a plane?
The official answer is yes. If you’re travelling by plane, the law states that taking a tennis racket with you is fine.
However, there is a little note saying the final decision rests with the TSA officer at the checkpoint, which isn’t that helpful.
The official policy of travelling in the European Union is more ambiguous. They have a list of prohibited items for cabin baggage, including blunt instruments, which they define as “objects capable of being used to cause serious injury when used to hit”, such as baseball and softball bats, clubs and batons, and martial arts equipment…
…but no mention of tennis rackets.
My interpretation of this rule is that surely a tennis racket could be added to the list? I certainly wouldn’t want to be hit in the head with a tennis frame!
So overall it looks like carrying in the hold is fine, but bringing it with you as hand baggage is less clear.
Furthermore, despite official guidance from government websites, airlines have their own policies on what is allowed in the cabin as well as size and weight restrictions.
One key factor here is that tennis rackets have a maximum length of 29 inches, although most are 27 inches. This is often too long for most airlines according to the dimensions they allow for cabin baggage, and it’s often at their discretion whether they allow tennis rackets or not.
The last thing you want is to have your tennis rackets packed in a soft bag only to be told at check in that it has to go in the hold with all the hard suitcases.
Your lovely tennis racket will likely be in several pieces when you pick it up after your flight!
So here’s a table showing the current rules, as of 2020, for different airlines and their policy on allowing tennis rackets as cabin baggage.
If anything isn’t clear, you can always put them in the hold or call the airline.
|Airline||Hand luggage weight allowance||Hand luggage dimensions (for free)||Are tennis rackets allowed as part of your hand luggage?|
|Aeroflot||10kg||55 cm x 40 cm x 25 cm||Yes, providing you don’t go over the weight allowance. You are only allowed one racket though. Here’s the policy.|
|Air Canada||Not specified||55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm||Yes. They are allowed if the racket and bag can fit in the overhead bin unassisted.|
|Air France||12kg||55 cm x 35 cm x 25 cm||Unclear. Not prohibited but their website doesn’t say they are allowed either. Call airline to check.|
|American Airlines||Not specified||56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm||Unclear. Ok for the hold, but it’s not clear whether it’s allowed as hand luggage.|
|British Airways||23kg||56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm||Not allowed. Here’s the policy|
|Cathay Pacific||7kg||56 cm x 36 cm x 23 cm||Unclear. Ok for the hold, but it’s not clear whether it’s allowed as hand luggage.|
|Delta Airlines||Not specified||56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm (combined length should be less than 114cm)||Unclear. However as long as your total length of hand luggage doesn’t exceed 114cm you should be ok. Here’s the policy.|
|Easyjet||Not specified||56 cm x 45 cm x 25 cm||Unclear. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be allowed. You can place them in the hold though.|
|Emirates||7kg||55 cm x 38 cm x 20 cm||Unclear. Ok for the hold though. Here’s the policy.|
|Lufthansa||8kg||55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm||Not specified. Ok for the hold though. Here’s the policy.|
|Qantas||10kg||56 cm x 35 cm x 23 cm||Unclear. Fine to place in the hold though. Here’s the policy.|
|Ryanair||Not specified||40 cm x 25 cm x 20 cm||Not allowed. Here’s the policy.|
|South West Airlines||Not specified||60 cm x 40 cm x 25 cm||Yes. They even recommend that they should be carried on.|
|Turkish Airlines||8kg||55 cm x 40 cm x 23 cm||Yes. Although they recommend you bring it in a special bag.|
|United Airlines||Not specified||56 cm x 35 cmx 22 cm||Yes. One item of tennis equipment is allowed as a carry-on bag.|
|Wizz Air||10kg||40 cm x 30 cm x 20 cm||Unclear. However, it’s unlikely you’ll be permitted to bring it in the cabin. Here’s the policy.|
Unfortunately, as you can see, it’s often not clear at all whether you can bring a tennis racket with you into the cabin. In some cases, be prepared to place them in the hold.
What is the best way to pack a tennis racket?
If you want to take your tennis racket into the cabin with you, you want to ensure it’s safe and secure, with no risk of breaking.
The Epirus Borderless Backpack (affiliate link) is a great choice for this, and most importantly, it’s cabin baggage approved on some airlines.
It features locking zippers so there’s no danger of the bag opening up by mistake, extra padding in the pockets to insulate the tennis racket (you can also store a laptop as well if you like) and it’s water repellent.
How to pack a tennis racket in a suitcase?
If you decide it’s not worth the hassle of bringing your tennis racket as cabin baggage, you can always just place it in the hold.
You might not have a choice anyway on some airlines, particularly if you’re flying economy.
Ensure you pack your tennis racket in a hard suitcase and ideally, wrap it in bubble wrap just in case. Surround the racket with other soft items like clothes.
If you have to use a soft bag, you’ll definitely need bubble wrap and probably quite a bit to keep your racket protected from all the bumps and shakes when it’s placed in the hold.
We’ve all been there haven’t we?
Face to face with a check-in agent who, for some reason, seems to single you out and says your cabin baggage is too big or too heavy and has to be checked in.
This can happen even if your luggage fits the airline weight and size criteria. If the flight is particularly full, a larger piece of hand luggage is often the target of check-in agents to be placed in the hold instead.
It happened to me and my wife one time, when our cabin baggage was deemed too big, despite visibly showing to a check-in agent our soft bag going in and out of their bag sizer. Admittedly it was a bit tight, but it did fit ok. I guess some staff just like the feeling of having power!
So trying to bring a tennis racket as hand luggage can be risky, even if the airline website says it’s ok.
It might depend on how full the flight is, your negotiating skills and the mood of the check-in agent!
Overall, the safest bet is to hope for the best, and plan for the worst.
Aim to bring your tennis racket as cabin baggage, but save some space in your suitcase in case it has to go in the hold.
Should the less desirable situation occur, it’s probably a good idea to bring some bubble wrap so you can wrap your tennis racket before putting it in your suitcase.