First off, the big question: Can you take skates on board?
In a complete turn around from last year, the answer is "Yes". I'd take a copy of the web page and have it book marked on your smart phone, just in case you get told "No" at the gate. (edit. Gel shoe inserts are NOT permitted. Scroll down to the bottom of the reference page. I don't know how picky TSA is about this--anyway, you've been warned.)
Recommendations from other sites say to keep your on-board bag free of junk to make it easier to get the skates through.
|Making their job easier, makes your trip easier|
I prefer a hard-sided suitcase that's not too large. The one I have is a few years old and is about 20 inches long. I prefer hard sided luggage for my skates to keep them from getting warped or the blades bent if something's dropped on the bag. Unlikely, but better safe than sorry. My experience is that with a larger suitcase, the skates make it too heavy to tool around the airport. I travel with a small suitcase plus a small carry on. This allows me to carry my skates plus professional clothes for a week's conference--yes, I do take a lot of black. I've been known to wear black skating pants and plain skating jacket to meetings. My carry-on doubles as my skate bag.
Tip 1: Skate bag is the carry-on.
Tip 2: Hard sided luggage is preferable
How do you pack your skates? I clean my blade guards, dry them out, then put them on the blades. I put the soakers on over the guards, then I use twist ties to tie the soakers on. TSA security will sometimes search your luggage (they leave a nice little note BTW). You don't want an inspector nicking his hand on your blade because a soaker or a guard fell off. Lawsuits have been made of less. I've never done the following, but I think it's a good idea, take a picture of your skates in the bag for insurance purposes. You don't want to be sued for negligence.
Tip 3: Really, really make sure your blades are secured
I pack the inside of my skates with small stuff: underwear mostly. My skating equipment (pads, wrist guards, etc) go in a zippered net bag I got at a Dollar Tree. It makes it difficult to pack around that lump of stuff, but I lost a wrist guard once because I tried to 'neat pack' with everything in little crevices. Just not worth the risk.
But unless you're on vacation and want to take your skates, there's other things to consider. If it's a business trip, most rinks don't have either evening public or evening freestyle. If you want to skate morning freestyle, even that can be problematic in order to shower and dress in time for a conference or meeting.
I don't take my skates on business trips any more, and even on vacation it's not worth it (unless it's a skating vacation). I'm usually fully booked with other obligations, so just not worth the effort. I'd suggest you truly look at rink schedules and your time available before you pack your skates.