KLM - the airline that flies from all over the UK to all over the world - this week introduces a new fixed excess baggage charge for passengers travelling with surfboards and windsurf boards.

The new system has been introduced following consumer demand for greater transparency and replaces the airline's current charges which are set by IATA and vary depending on the route flown and weight of the equipment. Instead, passengers with sports equipment will pay a straight-forward fixed charge when they exceed their free baggage allowance*. The new fees are as follows:

- Flights to Europe and the Dutch Antilles/Aruba: EUR 40 each way - Flights to other worldwide destinations, excluding Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel: EUR 80 each way - Flights to Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel: EUR 120 each way

Sample rates for a 23kg surfboard (each way) Based on exchange rates and the IATA excess baggage rates for the chosen routes on 04/03/04

Example route New system Old System London Heathrow - Aruba £26.65 (EUR 40) £342 London Heathrow - Cape Town £53.30 (EUR 80) £456.75 London Heathrow - Tel Aviv £79.96 (EUR 120) £180

Surfboards and windsurfing equipment are excluded from the free baggage allowance, so these charges will always apply.

Vincent Knoops, KLM's general manager, commented: "KLM's new scheme will make it refreshingly easy for passengers with sports equipment to plan their sporting holiday. Instead of being hit at the check-in desk with a myriad of unpredicted charges, the transparency of this initiative means passengers will know up front how much they will pay - and in most cases, much less than before."

Notes:

* KLM's standard baggage allowance is 20kg for Economy Class and 30kg for World Business Class, per passenger. This excludes destinations in the US, Canada, Mexico and Nigeria where two pieces are allowed per passenger at a maximum weight of 32 kilos per piece.

Surfboards and windsurfing equipment:

- The charge applies to one surf or windsurf board per person (consisting of a board, mast, sail and boom), not exceeding 290cm (114 inches) long and not weighing more than 23kg (50lbs). The charge for exceeding these limits will be 150% of the fixed charges. - Boards cannot be accepted onboard Fokker 50 aircraft.