Can you bring a Softball Bat on a Plane? (Packing Guide)
As you age in your softball career, you’ll get to experience team travel. Traveling with a team is fun and creates so many long time memories.
As first you may only end up traveling within your county or city, eventually moving up to travel within your state. Who knows – eventually you may join a travel team and end up playing in prestigious tournaments across the country!
For players who are already at that point in their career – this can mean travel by airplane and creates new questions around how to travel with your gear especially with bats.
Can you bring a softball bat on a plane? Because of TSA regulations, baseball and softball bats are only allowed in checked luggage. According to the TSA rules, bats are considered bludgeons, and therefore cannot be brought into the cabin of an airplane. You can check your bat with your larger luggage, then pick it up at the baggage carousel when you arrive at your destination.
As you can imagine – this presents several challenges including:
- keeping your bat safe
- what happens if your luggage is lost
- how to pack your other gear
Let’s look at some ideas and strategies so you can feel comfortable when traveling by plane.
How to Pack a Softball Bat for Flight
The best way to pack your softball bat and the rest of your gear is to purchase a softball gear bag. These bags usually are water resistant and have padding to protect your gear from getting damaged, and even have plenty of other compartments for your gear. One of the best reviewed gear bags that I have come across is the Easton Traveler (affiliate link) as it can fit a lot of gear in an organized way.
If the price is too high for you, most people just use a regular duffel bag. No matter what type of bag you use, put luggage tags on it so it gets back to you if it is misplaced during travel.
A bag made for trips with your softball gear is highly recommended, it saves players a lot of time and is extremely useful. The padding and compartments make it easier to store your gear and see it arrive safely at your destination.
You should always prepare for any issues that may accrue to your softball gear. To protect your gear, you should wrap the bat in multiple layers of bubble wrap to create a thick barrier to protect your bat from any damages that may occur.
While packing your softball gear, make sure your bat isn’t moving around in your bag. To achieve this you can wrap it with clothes and other equipment.
Original Bat box
If you originally ordered your bat, it probably arrived in a bat-sized cardboard box.
Many people keep these boxes because they are useful when you have to fly with a bat or return it to the manufacturer if it breaks during the warranty period. If you still have the box, use it when you fly. Put your bat in the box, then put the box in your softball bag or large duffel to protect it during the flight.
Rifle Case or Suitcases
Another option for your softball bat is a rifle case. These are usually heavily padded, and TSA allows them as checked luggage. Some bats are small enough to put into suitcases, especially when placed diagonally in the bag. Surround it with your clothing or a few towels and your bat will arrive in one piece.
What about other Softball Gear?
If you have to fly to a softball tournament, understanding what you can bring in the cabin matters.
Since you have to check your bat (as we explained above), you can check other gear. Many players check their metal cleats, because they don’t want to worry about them being confiscated in the security lines.
If you bring your helmet, you’ll also have to pack it in a checked bag. Because softball gear can become heavy, investing in a rolling softball bag – like the type catchers use – can make your journey more enjoyable and stress-free. Pulling a bag with wheels is much easier than carrying a heavy bag through the airport.
The rest of your gear can go in the cabin. You can carry your defensive glove and uniform. Because airlines occasionally have issues with checked luggage, the best things to bring in your carry-on bag are your glove and jersey. Everything else can be replaced when you arrive. You don’t want to lose your glove, because it takes so long to break it in.
What if Luggage goes missing?
It’s a good idea to plan for unexpected events, like damaged or lost luggage.
If your luggage goes missing, you can always visit the local sporting goods store to buy matching pants, socks, and cleats. You’ll want to bring your jersey in your carry-on bag because those are customized and difficult to replace. Any other personalized items should be put in your carry-on bag so they aren’t damaged or lost.
Remember that your luggage will not be placed gently in the storage area of the airplane. Luggage moves on a conveyor belt, then is dropped into the belly of the airplane. While your bat might be “broken in” after hours in the cages and many plate appearances, you can buy a replacement if anything happens to it on your trip. You can also use a teammate’s bat if yours goes missing.
What should you include in your Carry-on?
When traveling, the best choice is to pack as much as you can in your carry-on bag.
If you have lucky socks or a favorite set of batting gloves, put them in your carry-on. You can bring softballs in your carry-on bag as well. It’s always good to bring the irreplaceable items in your carry-on bag, so you know they stay with you.
While you cannot bring metal cleats in your carry-on bag, you shouldn’t have problems with plastic cleats. If you’re worried, put them in your checked luggage with your bat. Softball gear bags like the Easton Traveler we noted earlier have spots for shoes and bats.
Conclusion on Flying with Softball Bats and Other Gear
As mentioned earlier – softball bats simply cannot be brought onto a plane. This makes sense and does not deserve much second thought. However for softball players it does bring a certain level of anxiety as most players like to keep their gear close by to ensure its safety.
We hope that a few of the tips and suggestions above help eliminate some of the concern. Ideally all of your gear is with you at all times, but because it can’t be – the above is the next best solution. Now go out and make some memories with your team!