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Planes, trains and golf bags

Best marketing campaign of the week comes to us courtesy of Alaska Airlines, which is introducing the mythical SkyHigh Airlines (skyhighairlines.com) as part of its latest effort. From the company motto ("A commitment to mediocrity") to its CEO's statement ("Putting you first. Eventually."), SkyHigh is all too real for those of us frustrated by lost luggage and countless gate changes.

Speaking of airlines, we'd be curious to know which is the best for traveling golfers. Even with golf bag manufacturers constantly working with the airlines, it seems like it's more difficult (and more expensive) for golf travelers to bring their bags each year. We've printed a few selected reader comments on this subject below.

Golfer's luck

Every February my wife and I try to take a week's vacationto some place warm to celebrate our wedding anniversary and escape thewinterdoldrums. The last several years, I've packed my clubs along in a $25SpartanGolf travel bag I bought from QVC.

We've flown both United and Delta and I'mhappy to report I've had no problems. And the first time I stupidly included my retriever. Taller than any of the clubs and with a sharp edge, theretrievercertainly could have ripped through the bag had it been treated roughly.Thislast time I found an inspection tag in the bag, but nothing was disturbed as far as I could tell. They obviously found a way to bypass my inexpensive lock.Another respondent mentioned being harassed about the 50 lb. weight limit.Thatsounds familiar, but I'm quite sure that was mentioned to me in regard toourclothing case. I don't think anything was said about my golf bag.

After reading the stories about bent clubs and such, I feel pretty lucky. Butuntilit happens to me, I guess I plan to keep packing the clubs. They're tooexpensive to rent!

Scott Chapman, Moscow, ID

In search of neutral ground

I am a frequent traveler for business and personal and always have carried my clubs. I have been to Europe, Asia and North America over the last twelve months taking my trusted set of clubs. I play in excess of 100 rounds a year worldwide.

I have noticed a drastic change in North America, and specifically with American Airlines over the last three months. (Bear in mind I fly over 75,000 miles with them per year and get numerous golf vacation e-mails encouraging me to use them for golf travel.)

Security and golf bags. It seems that every time I go through an airport they have to physically search golf bags. At first this was a pain due to the hassle having to provide the key for the lock and inspectors not being golfers and re-packing in a manner that is unacceptable. But over the last few months this has improved dramatically. They are much more knowledgeable and do the inspection and re-pack in professional manner.

Airlines and Golfer heading down a bad path. First story is a trip to Colorado. I always take a ping hoofer bag, legal number of clubs, a few clothes and shoes and put them in a club glove. As I approached the counter the person informed me that my golf bag was 12 pound over the 50 pound limit and I would have to pay $50. I laughed and said it is a good thing I did not bring the staff bag. After some discussion, I took my shoes and some of the of the clothes out and put them in a bag from a terminal bookstore and proceeded as a very upset golf traveler.

Next trip I packed very light for a trip to Cleveland and was informed I was over the 50 pound limit by a few pounds. I was perplexed and even accused them of trying to get me over weight to collect extra revenue. I played with balancing the bag on the scale and every time got a new number within 5 pounds of the 50 pound mythical limit. Finally the bag weighed exactly 50 pounds and I made it through. As I walked away I saw several other non travelers with what looked like much heavier bags (Due to the effort to lift onto the scale) and the counter people did not hassle them. I am convinced they are targeting golfers for additional revenue.

After these situations, I have put up my trusted club glove and looked into alternative golf travel gear and came across Cargogolf.com and bought a travel bag. The bag is great but it has space limitations for the serious golfer. It allows me to still take and play with my clubs, which I consider a birthright by the hassle and costs have increased.

Golfers and airlines should find neutral ground and stop these petty revenue gathering programs. They defend them as saying they apply to all travelers but this is a weak argument. Golf bags should not be under the same guidelines as normal bags with clothes and gifts. Golf clubs are heavier than clothes and if the airline is going to target golfers they should be golfer friendly.

Rodney Davenport, St Louis, Mo.

P.S. I would have no problem if they charged me a special price and my clubs were hand delivered at the baggage claim first instead of last.

The not-so-friendly skies

Regarding your Sept. 30th "This Week at Travel Golf.com," topic, a June trip to Scottsdale on America West saw the legs on my golf bag stand snap in two, my driver and fairway wood (both Orlimars) bent (which are of no use to me now), and deep gashes on the golf travel bag. Will NEVER EVER fly America West again.

Ed Loretto, via email

A vote for America West

In response to your question about airlines and golfers: We use America West and love it! Our destination is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Mona Chan, via email

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