I'm taking my skis with me on a plane for the first time, and so I'm a little unsure of the best practices to make sure everything arrives safely.
Equipment: How can I make sure my skis arrive in two pieces and not more? Is there anything possible to protect the ski bindings (they stick out from the skis) or the poles? What about the boots, how banged up will they get? I have a ski and boot bag, but they're not really padded.
Luggage policies: Most airlines seem to allow an additional boot bag for free, as long as it only contains boots. Can I stuff additional gear in my ski bag, provided it's under the 50 lb limit? Does the weight limit count the combined ski/boot bags, or just the skis?
Airport: Do most airports have a separate check in and pickup counter for oversize equipment like skis?