Are there any airlines out there that realize that scuba divers travel to exotic locations with their heavy gear and have added dive equipment into the free luggage allowance? Golf equipment and surfboards already are common so why not dive gear?

Scuba equipment is like anything else you check in as baggage. It is subject to the same rules and regs as checked baggage. I am an instructor, own a PADI Dive Center, and I have trucked my gear to all parts of the world (including bringing my own soft weights!). If my bag was overweight, I wore my weight belt and carried the regulator in my carry-on. Pack light. What else do you need if you’re a real diver? Shorts and T-shirts, and maybe one good set of clothes–IF–and that’s a big if–want to go out to party. (Remember, if you stay out late, you’ll miss the dive boat in the morning!) Just make friends with other divers, and get together with them, and don’t worry about your clothes. Incidentally, keep that dive knife in the gear bag and check it into luggage. By the way, my gear weighs about 40 lbs., and most airlines allow 50 lbs.

That said, I have had a negative experience in a well known dive destination: Cozumel. Coming in with dive gear, I checked in my luggage and paid nothing extra–I was within the airline luggage rate regulations. Leaving, I had the same luggage, same airline, same flight-and they told me my bags were over the allowed limit, and I’d have to pay a $100 fee. After arguing for a half hour, causing a scene, and backing up the line, they finally let me through without an additional charge. If it happens again, I will contact the airline and file a formal complaint. I doubt that it would do any good, but you never know. However, it would be a good idea to arm yourself with airline documentation that states poundage allowed, and other regulations, so you can be prepared, just in case. I have also met a lot of surfers and golfers (I live in a resort location–Manzanillo, Colima–in Mexico). To my knowledge, they exchange a surfboard or a golf bag for the equivalent of one piece of luggage.