Airline gets fussy with golf bags

If you think the airline industry has enough rules governing baggage, read on.

Michael Farrell of Villanova couldn’t wait to return to Charleston, S.C., and play some golf as he does every year. But before he could even get on the plane Tuesday at Philadelphia International Airport, he had to deal with a U.S. Airways agent who wanted to search his golf bag when he checked the bag for the flight.

Apparently, the agent didn't like what she saw.

“This is the first time I was forced to take my clothes out of my golf bag,” Farrell, 66, said Thursday in an e-mail to the Inquirer. “She said they would charge me $150 if I left them in. She said it has always been the policy but (U.S. Airways) just started enforcing it.”

Under the U.S. Airways policy, which can be found on its web site after an extended search, the limits on what one packs inside a golf bag are “one bag with a maximum of 14 clubs, 12 balls, (and) one pair of golf shoes.”

A check of other airline web sites shows that American Airlines has the same maximum numbers for clubs and balls inside a golf bag, plus the one pair of shoes. Delta Airlines and Southwest Airlines say you may have a set of clubs, golf balls and golf shoes but sets no numbers on their web sites.

Farrell, who is retired, said that, fortunately, he had a carry-on duffel bag that had some room in it so he could transfer the clothes from his golf bag to there.

“Imagine the poor folks who arrived there and had no other bag to put clothes in,” Farrell said. “I guess U.S. Air would have sold them a bag, too.

“I don’t understand why they care as long as it is under the prescribed weight,” he said.

Farrell said that when he got to Charleston, he asked a few people with golf bags if they had experienced the same search that he did. “One from Philly did but those who came from other cities didn’t,” he said.

--Joe Juliano