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 solely rely on your trustworthy bowling balls to thrive on the bowling 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 would you transport your bowling balls? Can you bring them with you on a plane?
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 the Transportation Security Administration of the United States, you are permitted to bring a bowling ball on a plane, either as part of your carry-ons or a checked-in property.
However, the official site also mentions that the ultimate decision of allowing your bowling ball rests on the shoulders of the TSA agent that examines your belongings.
Bowling Balls & Airline Regulations
Airlines operate differently from one another, so regulations on the transport of bowling balls vary as well. Some might allow you to bring your bowling ball as a carry-on while others might insist on getting the ball checked in.
Hence, it is always good to go through the regulations of multiple airlines beforehand. Doing so will not only help you choose the most convenient airline but also give you a good idea regarding any bag fee that you’ll have to pay and the allowed weight limit.
A diligent study of the regulations will also enable you to store your balls accordingly, helping you decide whether to take them with you onto the plane or have them checked in.
If you’ve brought them with you on the plane, know that some airlines, understandably, prohibit the storing of bowling balls in the overhead compartment. Instead, the airport security or the flight attendant would generally ask you to place the balls under your seat.
After all, no one would want the heavy balls to fall out.
What would happen if that were to happen? I leave that to your imagination.
Flying with Multiple Bowling Balls
If it is possible to travel with a bowling ball, you might as well get your entire bowling equipment with you, right?
For a convenient solution, let’s take a leaf out of a professional bowler’s book.
Many professional bowlers travel to several destinations to participate in different competitions. Transporting heavy bowling equipment in addition to other baggage can be quite a hassle.
Hence, instead of flying with bowling balls, many people choose to ship the balls to their destination, scheduling the delivery to 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. You can use their services too for reasonable rates.
How to Safely Pack Bowling Balls for Travel?
Only you are aware of the money and time you have invested in your bowling balls. If it is a small fortune, it is in your best interest to keep the balls safe and secure for travel.
Bowling tips often mention that the most important line of defense that you should provide to your bowling ball during air travel is a sturdy bowling ball 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 3 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, is stable under heavy load, and is comfortable to carry or push around.
You can also use ball boxes instead of bags. Adding some bubble wrap also won’t hurt.
Shoulder Bowling Bag
Go for a shoulder bag if you don’t have much to carry. It 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.
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 and which is very handy when you are flying with numerous bowling balls.
Note: Zipper locks expertly make sure your balls remain secure inside your bag. Not only can it be used to keep the thieves out, but it can also prevent your heavy bowling balls from popping out too.
It may seem a bit far-fetched but do know that 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 as a carry-on, others might insist on having them checked in.
Read the regulations of the airlines for more clarity.
There also isn’t a dearth of online bowling communities and forums that you can join for further assistance and bowling tips.