In a recent post, I asked “What Does Delta Airlines Have Against Fishermen?” I had discovered that, unlike most domestic airlines that allow long fishing-rod cases, Delta charges $200 round-trip to check fishing rods longer than 62 inches. Yet it allows skiers to check cases containing skis the same size or longer at no charge.
I wrote Delta asking about the illogical and seemingly fisherman-unfriendly charge. An official spokesman failed to address the concern and added “This is our final response.”
More recently, I posed a similar inquiry to Copa, which flies to many great Central American fishing destinations, including direct flights into Panama City from many U.S. airports.
Copa had a somewhat different catch-22 for anglers: A fishing rod case could measure up to 115 inches — except the rule added “Fishing equipment cannot exceed 80 inches in length.”
I pointed out that anglers who wished to bring 7-foot rods (I often do) could be turned away at the airport given that contradictory addendum.
Perhaps some anglers have checked longer rod cases on Copa despite it’s now-obsolete 80-inch maximum rule, but it seems to me the possibility of being turned away at airport check-in would be a pretty high risk to take on a dream fishing trip to Central America. Unlike Delta, Copa did not issue some meaningless “final response” to my query.
Copa clearly likes sport fishermen and wants our business.
I know this because I heard from Copa’s CEO who agreed with me and, yesterday, the airline made it official: You can now fly with your rods in a tube up to 115 total inches with no problem. Also, Copa will count your rod tube and tackle box (or bag) together as one item (up to the allotted 50 pounds total). And, by the way, if you fly Copa south of the border, even in coach you’ll get a hot meal with real silverware and wine.
So I’m happy to share with traveling anglers some good news about an airline that — yes, unlike Delta — actually wants sport fishermen to fly with it, evidenced by Copa’s willingness to make a simple change so its baggage rules make sense.