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Can You Bring a Tennis Racket on a Plane? A Guide To Tennis and Travel

Travelling with sports equipment, especially a tennis racket, can be a bit of a minefield.  Not only do the rules vary depending on the airline you fly with but you risk damaging your prized Prince or treasured Tecnifibre.

But most players – whether they’re touring pros or just wanting to play a bit on vacation – will at some point be forced to travel with a racket so we’ve put together this guide to help ensure a hassle-free journey.

Can I take a racket as part of my carry-on luggage?

The answer is yes. At least according to TSA regulations.

The trouble is that most airlines have fairly strict restrictions on the size of carry-on luggage and the limit is usually 22 inches in length – five inches shorter than the average racket.

The good news is that occasionally airlines make exceptions for tennis rackets…but most DON’T. 

Here’s a list of the most popular airlines and their policies on tennis rackets at the time of writing.

American Airlines

Carry On?  Not permitted.

Checked Baggage? Permitted but there may be an additional cost if it takes you over your allowed luggage allowance.

For more information check here.

Delta

Carry On? Not permitted

Checked Baggage? Permitted but there may be an additional cost if it takes you over your luggage allowance

For more information check here.

United Airlines

Carry On? Permitted! You can bring one tennis racket case with balls and rackets as a checked or carry-on bag.

Checked Baggage? Permitted but there may be an additional cost if it takes you over your luggage allowance

For more information check here.

British Airways

Carry on? Not permitted.

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your baggage allowance.

For more information check here.

Lufthansa

Carry on? Not permitted.

Checked Baggage? Permitted but there may be an additional cost if it takes you over your luggage allowance. Also they request that you register those items in advance here.

Emirates

Carry on? Not permitted.

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your allowance.

For more information check here.

Qatar Airways 

Carry on? Not permitted.

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your allowance.

For more information check here.

Air France

Carry on? Not permitted

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your allowance.

For more information check here.

Singapore Airlines

Carry on? Not permitted

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your allowance.

For more information check here.

Cathay Pacific

Carry on? Not permitted

Checked Baggage? Permitted as part of your allowance but regulations may vary depending on your route.

For more information check here.

Packing Your Tennis Racket

As you can see, the reality is that you’re more than likely going to have to check your racket in the hold. That means it gets flung around like the rest of your luggage so it’s really important that you pack it carefully to keep it safe and secure.

Here are a few steps you can take:

Buy a Quality Racket Bag

Invest in a high-quality racket bag with ample padding. A harder case provides extra protection, but a well-padded soft case can also offer sufficient safeguarding. If you need some advice on which bag to get, check out our guide to the best tennis bags.

Padding and Protection

Add additional padding inside your racket case to protect it from impacts. You can use clothing, bubble wrap or foam to create an extra layer of cushioning.

Temperature controlled sleeve

You may want to consider a bag with a thermo protected sleeve to save your racket from extremely low temperatures in the hold. In theory a very cold environment could snap your strings although admittedly it’s unlikely.

Additional Tips for Traveling with Tennis Equipment

Here are a few more general tips to make your journey as pain free as possible.

Research Airline Policies

Different airlines have varying rules for sports equipment. Some might consider tennis rackets as part of your standard baggage allowance, while others may charge an extra fee. Familiarize yourself with these policies in advance to avoid surprises at the airport.

Early Arrival

Arrive at the airport well in advance to allow for any potential delays or complications related to carrying a racket. Security checks and extra inspections might take longer.

Documentation

Keep a copy of your airline’s sports equipment policy with you. It can be useful to have this information handy in case any issues arise during check-in or security.

TSA Guidelines

If you’re traveling through the United States, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) might need to inspect your racket. Make sure it’s easily accessible in your bag to facilitate the inspection process.

Plane Sailing

Travelling with a tennis racket can be a worry-free experience with the right preparation and understanding of airline regulations. Whether you’re heading to a competitive tournament or just looking to enjoy a game while on vacation, following these guidelines will help ensure your equipment arrives at your destination safe and ready for action.

If you’re planning to play on vacay but you haven’t found the right racket yet be sure to have a look at our guide to the best tennis racket for beginners or advanced players. And remember, if you don’t already have one it pays to invest in a quality tennis bag.

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