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This question is a bit specific. I hope someone can help.

I want to travel around Europe with my hula hoop, it's folding but still can't fit in my bag. If I tied it behind the bag it does not exceed the limits that low cost airlines impose for handbags. Still, I'm afraid that they don't let me send the hula hoop with the bag without paying extra cash. Has anybody already been in this situation?

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    Oddly-shaped objects tend to be classified as oversize and usually end up being chargeable. If you can find a backpack that it could fit into you probably could get away with it. – serakfalcon Aug 20 '14 at 4:04
  • @pnuts it's oversize. It may not weigh much of anything but that doesn't matter. Any excuse to charge you is one they jump at. Best way is to not take it with you but just buy one at your destination and sell or throw it away when going home. They're cheap enough it's not worth the trouble trying to get it onto an airliner. In a pinch, just buy a piece of plastic pipe from a DIY store and make one on the spot. It's what many people used for hola hoops in the 1980s... – jwenting Aug 20 '14 at 8:17
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    @jwenting That is only if you're comfortable using a toy variation instead of a professional. While the toy hula hoops cost 5-7 USD/EUR each, a professional hula hoop can easily set you back 50 EUR, although there are basic beginner versions starting at 25 EUR. These usually are made of a far better material and are beter shaped: A toy hula hoop has a rectangular cross-section, while a professional hula hoop has a round cross-section. – Nzall Aug 27 '14 at 12:11
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Yes, others have, and it appears it comes down to the airline at times. However, Hooping.org has a great article on an experience with South West Airlines - the world's largest low cost carrier.

Key takeaways that I can see from it:

  • At check-in, keep it out and in full shape.
  • If they look at it, ask if it's possible to gate check it. Or at least ask 'what should I do with this?' - not 'is this ok?', just act like it's fine and you just want to know where they go.
  • At security, it poses no issues from the descriptions experienced.
  • At the gate, you might be asked to gate check it.
  • If you get it onto the plane, as soon as you're greeted, ask 'what should I do with this?'. Again it puts the onus on the flight staff to deal with it, rather than you.

The benefit of the hula hoop is that it's a novelty. Everyone recognises one, and it becomes something interesting in their day to deal with. Reading the post, it gets everyone's attention and in a good way. Be nice, be polite and be friendly, it may help you get the whole way.

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I saw a hula hoop being conveyed on an Easyjet flight. The cabin crew had the hoop placed behind the last row of seats at the rear of the plane.

I was being nosy and asked the guy with it about how he was coping with travelling with it, and he told me the biggest problem was security, as the hoop was too big for the X-ray machine. The security people hand scanned using a portable device, and then swabbed the whole thing. It took a little extra time, so you might want to check in a little early.

I agree with mark about being upfront and getting airline staff involved in the resolution to the issue, but having a potential idea (ie behind the rear seat) may help you on the way.

I would also caution about checking or gate checking, as a hula hoop could get crushed or bent by having luggage placed on top. I would also worry about the ability of automated luggage systems / carousels to handle the shape.

If checking is your only option I wold suggest a sturdy carton or case if possible

Good luck

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