What Does Delta Airlines Have Against Fishermen?

Delta loves skiers and golfers, but anglers are third-rate.

O P I N I O N

delta airlines hates sport fishermen
Delta: We welcome skiiers, but not fishermen.Chris Parypa Photography / Shutterstock.com

As an editor who travels to fish, and who writes for an audience of enthusiasts, many of whom also fly domestically and internationally, I have in the past shared comparisons of airlines regarding baggage regulations pertaining to fishing gear.

Those varied considerably, with some airlines’ rules seemingly aimed at deterring fishing enthusiasts from flying with them, while others appeared to welcome our business. I coined the term “fisherman friendly” for the latter.

One of the most discrepant areas of regulations concerns fishing-rod tubes. In fact, many major U.S. airlines have improved their allowances in this regard and, these days, most allow you at no extra charge to check your favorite sticks in a rod tube that may measure up to 126 inches on American, 91 inches total on Southwest and 115 inches total on United, as examples.

And Delta?

Here’s the good news: Delta allows rod cases up to 115 total inches.

And the bad news: You’ll pay at least $200 in oversize charges round trip if the rod case is more than 62 inches.

So I posed to Delta this question: Why does Delta’s checked-baggage policy penalize anglers in a way most airlines do not?

But wait: The plot thickens, because I also posed a second question to Delta.

I did so after looking through their checked-bag regs for other sports.

So fishermen check a case more than 62 inches total, they pay through the nose.

But if you’re a golfer? The regs allow golf bags up to 115 inches as for fishing rods, but then they specify: “Oversized baggage fees will be waived for golf bags exceeding 62 inches.”

Or, if you’re a skier? You’re apparently allowed unlimited length with no oversize charge: “Linear dimensions may exceed 80 inches without excess size charges.”

Next time the guy checking in at Delta counter in front of me with a long ski case pays nothing and I am shelling out two-hundred bucks, I’ll remember that Delta doesn’t intend to show bias toward fishermen.

Seeing that, I also asked Delta: Why does Delta charge anglers big bucks for the very same sort of baggage it allows golfers and skiers to check free of extra charges?

With considerable effort, I manage to finally wrest a reply of sorts from a Delta spokesman. He assured me that “It is not our intention to show bias or preference for one type of recreational sport based on the number of inches allowed before an item is subject to oversize fees.”

Now that makes me feel much better. Next time the guy checking in at Delta counter in front of me with a long ski case pays nothing and I am shelling out two-hundred bucks, I’ll remember that Delta doesn’t intend to show bias toward fishermen.

And just to make sure I don’t pester the man with any follow-up questions, he ended his email to me with the warm-and-fuzzy comment, “This is our final response.”

There are, per government estimates, 44 million sport fishermen in this country. They spend a lot of money traveling. On their behalf, then, I would like to know What Does Delta Have Against Fishermen? Keep an eye on this Travel page, since if I should ever learn (though it probably won't be from that "final-word" spokesman) that Delta has changed its rules to be equitable with other sports and with other airlines, it will be my pleasure to inform SF's audience. But you may not want to hold your breath.

In case you think this sounds too ridiculous to be true, the screenshot above is from Delta's web site, March 2017.delta airlines