It was only a matter of time before BA's unfriendly kit banning policy started lighting a few bulbs in other airlines' media and marketing depts. Never one to miss a trick, the first press release to land on our desk comes from Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic:

Virgin Atlantic, one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines, has come to the aid of sports travellers by announcing that they can take one piece of sporting equipment in addition to their checked baggage allowance. The announcement comes after rival carrier, British Airways, decided to ban windsurfing boards and other sporting equipment, such as pole vaults and javelins, in the cargo hold on its flights from 6th November 2007.

This means that, as long as the equipment complies with size and weight allowances, Virgin Atlantic travellers can check in to the hold of the aircraft their diving equipment, golf equipment, fishing equipment, hang gliders, snow skis, surfboards, windsurfing boards, booms and sails, bicycles, paragliders, canoes and kayaks – all free of charge. Sporting wheelchairs are also considered sports equipment.

Paul Dickinson, Sales and Marketing Director, Virgin Atlantic, said:

“Virgin Atlantic continues to be the airline for sports enthusiasts unlike others who are doing everything they can to prevent the gold medallists of the future transporting their equipment. Our new sports equipment policy enables all sports travellers, whether Olympic teams or not, to enjoy their journey throughout."

The sporting equipment can weigh no more than 32kg, unless with prior consent, and must not exceed overall dimensions of 62" (width + height + length). If the sports equipment weighs more than 32kg, the item will be treated as two pieces of checked baggage, excess baggage charges will then apply. Sporting equipment weighing more than 45kg will need to be transported as cargo and cannot be accepted as checked baggage.