Hawaiian Airlines smashed my paddle

Coming back from the Na Pali Challenge i flew Hawaiian Airlines and had checked my paddle as they don't allow them as carry ons. Before giving the paddle to the baggage workers, they had put two "fragile - handle with care" stickers on the blade.

When i picked it up after the flight I noticed that the shaft of the paddle seemed to be crushed, the collar between the blade and shaft was cut, and there were gouge marks on the handle along with a black stain. Apparently the "fragile" sticker is a challenge to whomever is loading the baggage to test just how fragile it is!

I took the paddle to baggage check to see what Hawaiian Airlines could do since they had obviously ruined my paddle. Because i had signed the waiver that my paddle was unprotected, they told me that there was nothing that they would do since it was not "properly protected". I had asked what is appropriate packaging and was told either a box or hard case.

So now I'm left with a damaged paddle and little faith in Hawaiian Airlines taking care of outrigger paddles in the future. Needless to say i was very disappointed in Hawaiian Airlines. So much for their respect for outrigger paddles.

Has anyone had a similar experience with an airlines damaging their paddles or other outrigger canoe gear?

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Submitted by colinmaui on Mon, 08/23/2010 - 8:41pm

Hawaiian air did the same thing to my Makana Ali'i. The handle was crushed, and I had to repair it myself. It really pissed me off.

#1 Mon, 08/23/2010 - 9:25pm

I know alot of people check their paddles in unprotected when flying inter-island, and personally, I think y'all are crazy. You're already dropping 2 to 3 bills on your paddle, invest in a paddle bag if traveling. Doesn't guarantee it'll be damage free but certainly helps...Still though, I'm bummed for you. Sucks when stuff like that happens.

#2 Mon, 08/23/2010 - 10:15pm

I don't work for the airlines but I can guess what happen to your paddle. Because your paddle is longer than normal checked bags when they go on the belt and go around a curve on the belt they get stuck. Then another bag comes along and if there is no one there to pull your paddle out of the way, that bag jams up agains your paddle and the belt continues to move. This happens to golf bags a lot, but they, of course, are always in big heavy duty bags.

I really felt bad about your paddle and would be pissed too if that happen to me. But all I do is put it in a soft-sided full cover paddle. It doesn't guarantee it won't get damage, but it will help. So far, knock on wood, nothing has happen to my paddles. Then again, I've never tried flying with my paddle using Hawaiian Air.

#3 Mon, 08/23/2010 - 10:39pm

Air Tahiti broke my Epic wing paddle, they broke my surfboard. They both were in heavy duty bags... Like you said it seems that the "Fragile" sticker is a challenge for some people !

#4 Mon, 08/23/2010 - 11:30pm

anyone found a good hardcase that is skinny and deep enough to hold maybe 3-4 paddles...

I haven't seen too many soft cases that look like they will really stand up to abuse without having to wrap everything in bubblewrap... I hate looking at airline carnage

#5 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 6:07am

Might be a little over kill but if you can fit a few paddles in there.


#6 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 6:42am

bummer about your paddle. but I must be one of those lucky idiots. unless I'm traveling with someone who has a bag mine goes unwrapped. I've seen that rifle case used. for 88$ it seems like it might be a good deal.

#7 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 7:07am

that sucks. its not like you got much options w/ inter island air carriers. i would make a big stink and complain. its not like flights are cheap.

#8 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 7:30am

GO! airlines broke my Makana Alii paddle. It was in a paddle bag with stickers etc. It was completely broken in half which makes me think they propped it in a corner of the cargo and the rest of the load shifted in flight and crushed it. You would think they would top load fragile items. Interestingly enough, the check in lady forgot to have me sign the waiver so I got a phone call that they would "see what they could do" about it. I never got a call back. I have not flown GO! since.

#9 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 8:14am

ive seen people w/ those hard cases that r made for paddles. where can you get those???

#10 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 8:49am

Whatever happened to the excellent service that paddlers use to receive: paddles would be placed aside at check in for special handling or we could gate check them in and later handed to us as we left the cabin? I guess there are no paddlers working for the airlines anymore? Or in a position to make sure this service is maintained and continued? If can pay extra for safe paddle, I will do it?

#11 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 8:49am

Kills me to hear this stuff ... The paddles are so light and take up an odd space. Why put them anywhere else but right on top ? So easy, so little effort involved for care of something like this.

I watched my CLEARLY MARKED computer get ROLLED down the Hawaiian Airlines off ramp onto the cart from my seat window into the waiting hands of a second laughing attendant ... I got off the plane and made a beeline over there to get in the face of these ______ ... Got names and went straight to customer service counter .. They told me to check the computer and get back to them if there was any problems. The lady stated they would "take care of" any problems.

If you have the time and energy I would still persue it by going down and or making a couple phone calls and politely refusing to accept that there is nothing they can do.

An EZ "case' to make is from a a Bike box folded up. Enough there to get 2 super thick layers around the paddle with space to spare around it. Lay it out on a table, measure and mark for size and use a yardstick + the backside of your carpet knife to crease it neatly. Tape it up length wise before cutting the end flaps. Take your time and you will have a super strong case that will last forever.


#12 Tue, 08/24/2010 - 9:21am

You can get a gun case from most big-box sporting goods stores. I paid $20 for a hardshell plastic and $50 for a metal one (on sale). Both will hold two 52" bent shaft paddles (you have to remove the egg-crate foam first). Have flown with them numerous times and they give great protection. Be sure to get the one that is made for two rifles, not one. The plastic one is less expensive and works fine, plus it is lighter.

#13 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 5:15am

I too have been one of the lucky ones. Always use a soft paddle bag for travel, maybe that helps? It would be cool to be able to leave that stuff in my car and drive on and off some sort of interisland ferry.

#14 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 7:54am

that sucks! We do make padded paddle bags that have protected our blades so far. The best bet has been using the canvas paddle bag and wrap a towel or something around the blades and then tie the bag up tight. I think the big bag just makes them handle it better and it is always hand carried to the luggage area. The big bag is nice also to carry your wet stinky paddle clothes home without ruining the rest of your stuff.
We are also up for developing new and better products, so if anyone has a design idea, let us know!

#15 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 9:46am

I would imagen a couple layers of buble rap and a layer of cardboard could offer some protection

#16 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 2:11pm

i had my paddle smashed by go airlines.they said the same thing. yeah it wasn't in a bag but..... what da hell!

#17 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:32pm

  I know Grant Kenny used to check his ski paddle in completely bare so the handlers could see how fragile it is (~1mm thick walls on shaft)  But Clint Robinson was the opposite and had a giant checkerplate alloy coffin made for his paddles (~ 220cm long) Here in Australia some airlines will not take ski/kayak paddles at all as their newer planes have "palletised" containers for luggage with no room for long items (like surfboards too! )  Lats

#18 Wed, 08/25/2010 - 10:41pm

How about some reverse psych. Label it "Unbreakable not fragile at all".
Not only will it come out of the hold undamaged but you might get a new lacquer job with it :- )

#19 Thu, 08/26/2010 - 8:47am

Or have a 4 piec made for carry on purpose

#20 Thu, 08/26/2010 - 10:20am

Well I have searched all morning and finally found the one a well travelled mate of mine uses. You can pack all your gear in around the paddle for extra protection saving the need for another bag.


#21 Fri, 08/27/2010 - 2:20pm

First of all just a bit of advice for next time, they make bags that care for your paddle when you travel. I would personally NEVER send my paddle through baggage with just itself with absolute no care for it. Same goes for your bag/luggage, would you send your clothes without a bag? Probably not. The bags are about $50-$65, you can get them at any paddle store, check it out. Good luck next time.

#22 Sun, 08/29/2010 - 2:07pm

wahineokekai dont you think the airlines could be more careful knowing that the paddle was unprotected. chit they already charge you for an extra carry on. packing clothes in a bag is common sense, he obviously flew there w/ no problems. yet his return home the paddle gets manhandled. even regular paddle bags will not save it if the baggage handler doesnt give a chit. looks like the best bet is that gun case or the sport tube posted by clarkie.

#23 Sun, 08/29/2010 - 2:27pm

I've been told by a HA baggage representative that paddles never go on the conveyor belt since they won't fit. They get hand carried to the baggage area.

I seriously doubt that a cloth bag would have protected the paddle from being crushed or gouged. It is by HA not considered appropriate protection and would not reimburse for damage.

I would not buy a hard case or a heavy case, especially if it cost as much as a new paddle. Part of the reason is that I travel to other islands to voyage back. I do not want to haul around a large heavy hard case on escort boats or buses or when bumming rides. That said I would love to see a paddle bag designed to carry multiple paddles plus clothing and hydration but when the paddles are in use, ie channel crossing, coastal relay etc, then the bag folds up small but still functional to access contents, ie coconut juice/poi/camera etc.

#24 Sun, 08/29/2010 - 8:01pm

NOT saying its for everyone but when I travel with the bike, I simply hide it ( bike box ) either in the woods or under a construction trailer. Its always been there when ready to go back.


#25 Mon, 08/30/2010 - 8:44am

When traveling on a plane I would do a sturdy job with a layer of cardboard but first wrap well with a couple layers of bubble rap, then when I get to hotel where ever I was racing.then switch to the every day paddle bag. I then would unwrap carefully and save wrap, then re wrap on the way back home. and have never had any problems. oh' one time our crew paddles went to Denver for a ride on the way home but the airline delivered it to my door, that was cool.

#26 Mon, 08/30/2010 - 12:35pm

Hi Mister Airlines,
My paddle is made out of carbon fiber. One of the Hardest, Lightest, Materials every created by NASA. Since I am PAYING you to transport my very expensive one of a kind paddle, what kind of case would you like me to protect it with. And more importantly what should the bullet proof rating on the case be?

Honestly, how indestructible do we have to make baggage so that you can pick it up, set it on a plane, and then take it off when I arrive without breaking it.

#27 Mon, 08/30/2010 - 6:24pm

Carbon fiber? Hey! All my luggage are made of carbon fiber and have held up very well to all the rough treatment for the past three years until my most recent mainland trip when I noticed a 2 inch crack at one of the corners. U.S. Air wouldn't fix, but some omnidirectional fiber and epoxy, applied to the inside surface, mended it so you no can tell from the outside. So always carry a patch kit just in case you got to make repairs to your paddle, etc.

#28 Tue, 08/31/2010 - 2:41am

So always carry a patch kit just in case you got to make repairs to your paddle, etc.

I don't think airlines will let us check in with some epoxy resin in our luggages !

#29 Tue, 08/31/2010 - 10:56am

Unless you can find it in 3 ounce original bottles.

#30 Tue, 08/31/2010 - 12:58pm

Main thing is you gotta improvise. Always carry a little bit of fine and medium sandpaper, some chopped carbon, glass fiber or sawdust. The small package of 2 part waterproof epoxy they sell at Ace Hardware will do the job so you can race. If still stay in the original package, I no think they will say anything if stored in check-in luggage. They will just leave a note saying they removed it, if it is a problem. The wooden t-top I re-glued with Barge contact cement to my paddle's wooden shaft is still holding up after a year's use. Thanks for the tip I learned here.

#31 Tue, 08/31/2010 - 3:07pm

One way to travel with a paddle unprotected is to check in late. It's important your paddle is one of the last items on the plane so it doesn't get buried under all the other luggage. Last on means first off (of course I'm assuming the guy off loading everything will recognize the paddle needs to handled with care). I had no worries with my blade although I've only done that once and maybe I was just lucky.

#32 Wed, 12/05/2012 - 8:05am

Watch out now a days with computer bag check in, your paddle may be considered "oversize luggage" and you going have to pay the extra charge, etc. when you get to the counter. Also, got to wrap or pack paddle so the TSA inspector can readily inspect it. I gave in and bought a snowboard hard shell (Sporttube) case for airline travel with my paddles, and so far, paddles arrive undamaged. Two paddles in their soft shell covers fit snugly inside the case. The case is adjustable in length, so look for it in oversize luggage claims when you arrive at some airports. I don't lock it, instead I drill larger holes so I can fit a $2.00 hinge pin from City Mill and the TSA inspector can check it out. I keep spare pins on the case because the TSA inspector will lose them too. I'm going to next check out those hard shell golf cases, for it is best to travel with equipment that is familiar to airline and airport personnel. Gun cases may attract unwanted attention?

#33 Wed, 12/05/2012 - 9:10am

Cracked me up, no one stopped me when I walked into Hilo with a long, flapped OPEN box. LOL ..
Guess I did not fit the profile.


#34 Wed, 12/05/2012 - 11:02am

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