Getting airborne with your board just got friendlier!

United Airlines is one of the largest airlines in the world, and they fly to and from a lot of amazing places in California where we would love to take our favorite ECOBOARDS – which is why we’re stoked to report that our new partnership has just made that choice a lot “friendlier’ for traveling surfers!

Starting on Friday, October 5th, any water-loving travelers bringing their favorite surfboard, paddleboard , kiteboard or wakeboard on a direct United Airlines or United Express itineraries that originate or end at any California airport, will not have to pay the previous $150 or $200 service fee to check these items. Just the regular checked-bag fee ($25 for the 1st bag) will apply. Check out the official press release for more info.

So how did this Seachange happen? Well, the wind started blowing when Sustainable Surf showed up on United’s radar screen as an innovative organization focused on protecting California’s coast and the health of oceans globally, thanks in part to our efforts to make Surfing the official State sport of California . Which turned out to be a match for United’s own sustainability strategy – and the perfect storm for unlocking their own desire to start getting onboard with removing service fees for their saltier customers.

Or as Janet Lamkin, United Airline’s president for California puts it: “California made it official: surfing is our state sport. We want to make it easier for customers to surf our beautiful beaches, whether they’re visiting or call the Golden State home. This partnership continues our commitment to the environment by supporting an organization like Sustainable Surf, which helps keep our beaches beautiful.”

Route One ECOBOARD Air

Like United, Route One Surfboards team rider Noah Wegrich soars through The Sky Above CA with a lower CO2 footprint on his ECOBOARD! Photo @TeddyMiller

But as stoked as we know CA surfers (and CA bound surfers) will be to hear about United dropping their board bag fees, this is just the tip of the iceberg for why we we’re interested in having United as our organization’s official airline partner. There are much Deeper reasons.

For starters, United Airlines just became the first U.S. airline to publicly commit to reducing their greenhouse emissions (50% by 2050), and they are ranked as the #1 sustainable airline in Newsweek’s 2017 Global 500 Green Rankings. But let’s take a deeper dive into what United has been quietly doing (too quiet, we think) to shift the entire airline industry to adopt and embrace dramatically more sustainable practices , by taking a look at their ECO-skies program.

And if you’re like us, seeing is believing, so check out the video below that shows a snap-shot of what they are doing to maximize overall fuel efficiency of all operations, increase on-board recycling & repurposing, and continue their pioneering efforts to make low carbon, renewable bio-based aviation fuels a reality.

Want to know more about all the initiatives that United has on tap to become a more “ocean-friendly” airline? See the full story is here, and look below for two of our favorite highlights.

1. United is the global leader in investing in sustainable, bio-based aviation fuels made right here in California: Together with other airlines, engine and airframe manufacturers, fuel suppliers, airports and governments, United is working towards a collective industry goal of 1.5 percent average improvement of annual fuel efficiency through 2020, carbon neutral growth beginning in 2020 and a 50 percent reduction in airline CO2 emissions by 2050.

And this isn’t widely known (heck, we didn’t even know it until we did our own due diligence), but in 2011, United flew the 1st US commercial flight using renewable bio-fuels . And in 2016, they became the 1st airline in the world to start continually using renewable bio-fuels in regularly scheduled flights, that depart from LAX to your favorite wave filled destinations in, or outside of California. Short story – sustainable aviation fuels are not a shallow marketing ploy for United Airlines; this is a deep structural shift and they are in it to win it.

2. United also offers a direct way for its customers (individuals or corporate partners) to mitigate the CO2 footprint from their travel footprint – through their own Eco-Skies CarbonChoice program . Check out their flight footprint calculator the next time you’re taking your favorite surfboard to an exotic location, and you can donate either money or airline points to support the selected projects.

Cleared for take off.  Given all that, we are stoked to add United Airlines to our ever growing list of future-proofing partners inside or outside of “surf culture”, as we see a very close alignment between our own work and the long term goals of their Eco-Skies sustainability program. And thanks to United’s financial support for our Deep Blue Life strategy & programs, we are feeling a fresh wind under our wings, and looking forward to collaborating with our 2050 goals in mind.

Because we can envision a day within the next 30 years, when United Airlines might consider changing their famous slogan to read:

 “come fly the Ocean-friendly skies”


Jordy Smith flying high on his way to winning the WSL / Founders Cup Pro, on his low-carbon Slater Designs ECOBOARD at the Surf Ranch in Lemoore, California.  And in case you were wondering, United does have a flight from LAX to Lemoore (SAC) using bio-based jet fuel to cut the CO2 footprint; and Surf Ranch operations are powered by a combo of onsite solar panels and Green Power purchasing from PG&E sourced from renewable sources. Photo: @wsl