August 17, 2016

Flying with your bike: Comparing airline bike fees

Airline bike fees: What are the baggage fees for flying with a bike?

 

Can you take a bike on a plane? Yes, it is possible, but it will likely cost you!

Flying with your bike is a pain. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth the effort! So whether you are flying with your bike for a destination race, or you are flying with your bike to make cycling a part of your next vacation, you’ll want to consider the bike fees associated with flying before booking your flight if you can. The airline bike fee may add a hefty price tag to your ticket! Here is a list of airlines for comparison with their baggage policies for sports equipment so you can see what it will cost you to take your bike on the plane with you.

Airline baggage policies can change at any time!

The information provided on this page is intended as a general guide.

Airline baggage policies can change at any time so be sure to visit the airline websites directly or call the airline to confirm baggage policy. (And if you are following information you find on the airline’s website, take a screenshot of it in case it does change on you between booking time and flying time to make a case for yourself when you check in!)

Additionally, baggage fees also may vary depending on your specific destination and type of airfare purchased. There are also some flight itineraries and aircraft that won’t accept bikes at all.

For reference, baggage policies for the airlines listed below are linked and will take you directly to the airline’s baggage policy page where the provided information was found.

If your packaged bike falls within the baggage allowance requirement, many airlines will count it as part of your standard checked baggage. The allowance measurement tends to be consistent among airlines, and that is a maximum weight of 50 lb and a maximum linear dimension (length + width + height) of 62 inches. If your bike exceeds either of these numbers, you can expect to pay an additional fee for your bike no matter what.

Be sure to check the bike travel gear list!

How much does it cost to fly with a bike?

Here is a summary of the airlines that are covered on this page, with the fees listed reflecting a packaged bike that exceeds the standard checked baggage allowance.

These are U.S. based airlines. If you’re traveling to Asia from the U.S., try checking out Middle Eastern airlines like Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways, because you may actually be able to fly with your bike for FREE!

Here’s my experience flying a bike with Alaska Airlines with the cheap bike fee.

Flying a bike with JetBlue Airways

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $50 bike fee to fly your bike with JetBlue Airways. If your bike is small enough, the airline will count your bike as standard checked baggage for $25.

Bicycles will be accepted by JetBlue Airways on domestic and most international flights. The exception is to certain destinations in the Caribbean and South America. If the bicycle and container are less than 62 dimensional inches and under 50 pounds, the bike fee will not be assessed. If it exceeds these measurements, there is a fee of $50 per bicycle each way. The bike will count as one of your checked bags. The standard rate for the first checked bag is $25, and for the second bag it is $35.

JetBlue Airways accepts bikes in the following ways:

  • In a hard-sided, padded case designed for bicycles
  • If not in a hard-sided case, bikes will be accepted with the handle bars secured sideways and pedals removed
  • Bike must also be encased in plastic foam, a cardboard box (domestic flights only), or similar material to prevent damage
  • Bicycle cases should contain bicycles only; cases containing additional items may be subject to excess baggage fees
  • The maximum size for a bicycle case is 80 inches in overall dimension

Source: JetBlue Airways baggage information – sporting equipment

Flying a bike with Southwest Airlines

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $75 airline bike fee to fly your bike with Southwest Airlines. If your bike is small enough, the airline will qualify your bike as standard baggage, which is free for the first 2 bags.

Southwest Airlines allows 2 free checked pieces of baggage per ticketed customer, provided that the bags do not exceed 50 lb and 62 inches. A bike may be checked in substitution of one piece of the free checked baggage allowance for each passenger at no charge on a one-item-for-one-bag basis. If the bike exceeds the weight and linear dimensions, excess weight and size charges may apply. Bicycles larger than 62 inches in total dimensions will be accepted as checked baggage for a $75 charge each way. Bicycles must be non-motorized and single-seat bicycles.

Southwest Airlines states the following regarding your packaged bike:

  • Pedals and handlebars must be removed and packaged in protective materials so as not to be damaged by or cause damage to other baggage
  • Bicycles packaged in cardboard or soft-sided cases will be transported as subject to limited release items

Source: Southwest Airlines special luggage – sports equipment

>>  Tips for flying Southwest

Flying a bike with Frontier Airlines

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $75 airline bike fee to fly your bike with Frontier Airlines.

You can fly non-motorized touring or racing bicycles with single seats with Frontier Airlines. A checked bike fee of $75 per direction applies no matter the size of your bike. Items which exceed 99.9 lb or 109 linear inches will not be accepted.

Frontier Airlines requires the following of your packaged bike:

  • Bicycles must encased in a protective, durable case or box
  • Handlebars must be fixed sideways
  • Pedals must be removed. The exception to this is if the pedals are wrapped in plastic foam or similar material

Source: Frontier Airlines additional bag information – sports equipment and special items

Flying a bike with American Airlines

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $150 airline bike fee to fly your bike with American Airlines. If your bike is small enough, the airline will qualify the bike as the first checked bag, with a price of $0 to $25.

You can travel with one non-motorized touring or racing bike with American Airlines. Your bike can qualify as your first checked baggage if it measures under 62 inches and weighs less than 50 lb. If the packaged bike exceeds these measurements, the bike fee is $150.

What are the baggage fees?

  • For domestic flights, the first bag is $25, the second bag is $35, the third bag is $150
  • For international flights to Asia, the first 2 bags are free, $200 for the third bag
  • For international flights to Europe, the first bag is free, the second is $100, the third $200

American Airlines says the following is a must when flying with a bike:

  • Bike is in a hard-sided case, bike bag or box built for bike transport
  • Handlebars are fixed sideways
  • Pedals are removed
  • Pedals and handlebars are wrapped in plastic foam or a similar material

Source: American Airlines specialty and sports equipment policies

Flying a bike with Delta Airlines

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $150 airline bike fee to fly your bike with Delta Airlines.

Non-motorized touring or racing bicycles with single seats are allowed as checked baggage on most flights with the exception of some aircraft that may have different limits due to cargo constraints. A bicycle transport fee of $150 will be applied no matter the size of your bike.

Delta Airlines says the following about flying with your bike:

  • Your bike must be packaged in a container (cardboard, canvas, hard shell, etc.)
  • Handlebars must be fixed sideways
  • Pedals must be removed
  • Handlebars and pedals must be encased in plastic, styrofoam, or other similar material
  • If the packaged bike exceeds 115 inches or 70 lb, oversized baggage fees apply
  • Bikes exceeding 100 lb will not be accepted

Source: Delta Airlines special equipment policies

Flying a bike with United Airlines

Bottom line: Expect to pay a $150-$200 airline bike fee to fly your bike with United Airlines. If your bike is small enough, the airline will count your bike as part of your first checked baggage for $0 to $25.

United accepts non-motorized bicycles with single or double seats (including tandem) or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. The bicycle may be checked in with no bicycle service charge, but the first or second checked bag service charges may apply. The bicycle should be packaged in a container that is less than 50 pounds and 62 inches, or additional fees will be applied. If the bicycles are packed in a container that exceeds the allowance, a $150 service charge applies each way for travel between the U.S. and Canada, and a $200 service charge applies each way for all other travel

What are the baggage fees?

  • Domestic flights are generally $25 for the first checked bag, $35 for the second checked bag
  • International flights are generally free for the first checked bag. The second bag depends on the destination and can vary between free and $100+ (See the baggage calculator linked below for more information)

United Airlines states the following bicycle restrictions:

  • Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed
  • All loose items must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar protective material, or bicycle should be transported in a sealed box
  • United Airlines is not liable for damage to bicycles that do not have the handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed, handlebars and pedals encased in plastic foam or similar material, or bicycles not contained in a cardboard containers or hard-sided cases
  • If your itinerary includes a United Express flight, contact United Airlines for information regarding aircraft cargo hold limits
  • Bicycles will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed

Source: United Airlines sports equipment and United Airlines baggage calculator – any flights

Flying a bike with Alaska Airlines

Bottom line: In the summer of 2017, Alaska Airlines announced it wants to be more friendly to passengers traveling with sports equipment. That means a $25 bike fee!

Alaska Airlines says the following about flying with sports equipment:

  • Each piece of sports equipment needs to be properly packed in a soft- or hard-sided case designed specifically for the equipment

Note: In September 2017, I flew Alaska Airlines with my bike. My understanding is that Alaska Airlines treats bikes in the same way they would a standard size piece of baggage. This means that while there are no specific bike fees, you need to keep your bike box under the 50-pound weight limitation in order to avoid the overage fees. Just as a suitcase weighing over 50 pounds would mean additional fees, a bike box weighing over 50 pounds would mean additional fees. My bike box was weighed by Alaska Airlines agents at the airport, and it was under 50 pounds. And it was indeed $25 to fly my bike!

Source: Traveling with sports equipment

HAPPY AIRLINE BIKE TRAVELS!

Also see: How to find a cheap (or free!) cardboard bike box

 

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