Serious bowlers treat their bowling balls as prized possessions, going to great lengths to make sure that their bowling balls are well-conditioned.
If you belong to that category of people, chances are you can’t work with house balls — you rely on your trustworthy personal bowling balls to shine at the alley. Hence, you need them with you at all times.
However, what if you are participating in a competition miles away from home? What if you are traveling to an exotic location and would love to try the bowling lanes there?
How should you transport your bowling balls? Do they need to be in your checked luggage or can you include them in your carry-on baggage?
Lucky for you, this article has the answers you seek regarding bowling balls and air travel.
Are Bowling Balls Allowed on a Plane?
According to America’s Transportation Security Administration, you are permitted to bring a bowling ball on a plane either as part of your carry-on luggage or within your checked bags.
However, the official TSA website also mentions that the final decision rests on the shoulders of the security officer that examines your belongings at the security checkpoint.
Bowling Balls & Airline Regulations
Airlines operate differently from one another, so regulations on the transport of bowling balls vary as well. Many airlines allow you to bring your bowling ball in a carry-on bag, while others might insist on the ball being transported in a checked bag.
Hence, it is always good to review the regulations beforehand, which can be accessed on each airline’s official website. Doing so will not only help you choose the most convenient airline, but also give you a good idea of any bag fees that you’ll have to pay along with the baggage weight restrictions.
A diligent study of the regulations will also enable you to safely store your personalized balls and help you decide whether to take them with you onto the plane or place them in your checked bags.
If you decide to bring them with you on the plane, know that some airlines prohibit the storing of bowling balls in the overhead compartment to avoid injury. Instead, the airport security TSA agent or the flight attendant will generally ask you to place the balls under your seat.
After all, no one would want the heavy balls to fall out. The goal is for both your bowling balls and all the passengers to reach your destination safely!
Flying with Multiple Bowling Balls
If it is possible to travel with one bowling ball, you might as well bring all of your bowling equipment with you, right? For a convenient solution, let’s take a page out of a professional bowler’s book.
Many professional bowlers travel to multiple destinations to participate in different competitions. Transporting heavy bowling equipment, sometimes even including bowling pins, in addition to other baggage can be quite a hassle and really a tricky process.
Hence, instead of flying with bowling balls, many people choose to ship their sports equipment to their destination and schedule the delivery for after their arrival — in a time frame that is convenient for them.
The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) endorses the Bowling Ball Express shipping service. Feel free to use their services for reasonable rates.
How to Safely Pack Bowling Balls for Travel
You’re aware of the money and time you have invested in your own equipment. For many bowlers it’s a small fortune, so it’s in your best interest to keep the balls safely secure for travel.
The most important line of defense that you should provide to your bowling ball during air travel is a sturdy bowling ball tote bag.
Unlike regular backpacks and travel bags, bowling bags can bear the heavy load of multiple bowling balls. With built-in protection, soft padding and cushioning, and convenient compartments, bowling bags have been specifically made to keep your balls safe and secure during travel.
Generally, a bowling bag comes in three types: a shoulder bowling bag, a backpack bowling bag, and a roller. Irrespective of the bowling bag you choose, it must still be constructed of high-quality material, have enough storage space, be stable under a heavy load, and be comfortable to carry or push around.
For another option, you can use ball boxes instead of bags. Adding some bubble wrap to any of these hand luggage options will add extra protection to your bowling balls.
Shoulder Bowling Bag
Shoulder bags work great if you don’t have much other equipment to carry. They can be ideal for those looking for a hands-free approach.
Backpack Bowling Bag
A backpack bowling bag usually carries one or two bowling balls. Unlike a shoulder bag, it distributes the weight of the balls evenly, putting less strain on your body and reducing your risk of an aching neck.
Professionals generally opt for the roller bag. With roller wheels facilitating an easy transport of the heavy load, a roller bag does an exceptional job of taking the weight off your body.
Hence, you won’t have to worry about sustaining sprains and injuries. Compared to other bags, a roller bowling bag can also hold up to 4 bowling balls, a cool upgrade from the 2-ball capacity of a shoulder or backpack bowling bag.
Note: Zipper locks expertly make sure your balls remain secure inside your bag. Not only can they be used to keep thieves out, but they also keep your bowling balls safe by preventing them from popping out of the bag.
It may seem a bit far-fetched, but zippers can suddenly open because of the weight of the bowling balls coupled with factors such as gravity, slight turbulence, inappropriate bag placement, etc.
So, can you bring a bowling ball on a plane? Yes!
Do remember, though, that airlines tend to operate differently from one another, especially when it comes to regulations on flying with bowling balls. While some allow you to bring your bowling balls in your carry-on bags, others might insist on placing them in your checked baggage.
Read the regulations of the airlines for more clarity on what to expect from the TSA agents at the airport. You may also want to consider joining online bowling communities and forums for further assistance and bowling tips.