Airline fees for bikes 2023
Flying with a bike for the first time can be a daunting experience. It definitely was for us! We had so many questions and no idea how it all worked. Like everyone, we wondered if was it even possible, what the airline fees for bikes were, how the bikes should be packed, whether was it hard to do, and many others. Thankfully it all worked out and since that first trip way back in 2013 we have traveled many times with our bikes. Having had this experience, we have now written a number of articles about flying with your bike to help others who have not done it before. There are links to these and other relevant articles below.
This article is aimed primarily at how much it costs to fly with your bike and airline fees for bikes. To help you work out which is the best airline for you to fly with your bike we have researched 118 different airlines and provided the results in an easy-to-read table below. You will find out which airlines charge a fee and which do not, how big your bike box is allowed to be, what luggage weight allowance you are permitted, and whether or not you need to advise the airlines that you are bringing a bike. The table links to the relevant page of each airline so you can get more detail if you need to.
9 Common questions about flying with a bike
Here is a list of 9 common questions about flying with a bike that we have been asked over the years. We have answered these questions briefly in this article but you will find more detailed information in some of our other articles listed below.
1. Can you bring a bike on a plane?
The first question many people have when thinking about flying with a bike is can you check a bike on a plane? The simple answer is yes, the majority of airlines will allow you to carry a bike on both domestic and international flights. Each airline has its own rules about checking a bike as luggage so be sure to know what they are before you book. The exception to this rule is electric bikes. Due to the size of the battery electric bikes are banned on commercial airlines. Some airlines do allow you to check the bike without the battery, but the majority simply ban them completely.
2. How much does it cost to take a bike on a plane?
Airline fees for bikes vary greatly depending on the airline you fly with and their luggage policy. Many airlines charge nothing for a bike and allow it as part of your free checked allowance while others charge an additional fee for your bike. The fees for bikes on airlines that do charge range from US$40 to US$350 per leg of travel. If your bike is outside the weight and dimension limits set by the airline then excess charges will apply. Airlines fees for bikes can be impacted by class of ticket, loyalty program, or credit card membership.
3. Do I have to tell the airline I am bringing a bike?
Something we have observed over the past few years is that more airlines are requiring passengers to notify them if they are flying with a bike. Some airlines go so far as to require you to seek permission before you book to ensure your bike can be checked on the flight. We include this information in our table below. This is important to know as failure to notify them when you should, can result in a higher fee or worst case your bike being left behind.
4. Will my bike get damaged when flying?
A quick search online about damage to bikes when checked as luggage on planes will reveal a myriad of horror stories and may turn people away from the idea of flying with a bike. Our experience has always been positive, and the bikes have arrived in perfect condition every time. We always take the time to pack the bikes well with lots of padding and protection to mitigate the chances of damage. We would also recommend good travel insurance to cover you in the event of damage. So to answer the question, there is never no chance of damage but I suspect the number of bikes that are damaged by airlines is a small percentage of the overall number of bikes that fly around the globe on a daily basis.
5. How do I pack my bike for checked luggage?
Your bike will need to be packed in some sort of covering or box per the airline’s instructions before it is checked. There are broadly 3 options here, plastic wrapping, a soft-sided bike travel bag, or a hard-sided bike travel case. Airlines generally state that pedals should be removed, handlebars turned sideways and tires deflated before packing into the bag or case.
6. What are bike box dimensions for airlines?
Bike box dimension allowances change depending on the airline you choose to fly with. Some airlines quote a maximum length, while other airlines quote a linear length (W + H + L). Bike box dimension allowances based on linear range from 158cm to 320cm while those based on length only range from 180cm to 277cm. For those airlines that do not specify dimensions, we recommend contacting them directly before you book to clarify.
7. How heavy can a bike box be when flying with a bike?
The weight allowance when checking your bike as luggage is set individually by each airline but will fall somewhere between 23kg and 32kg (50 lbs and 70 lbs). Class of ticket, airline policy, loyalty program membership, and flight route will all impact the weight allowance of your bike. Any bike box over 32kg (70 lbs) will be treated by most airlines as cargo and will not be permitted as checked luggage. This applies even if your luggage allowance exceeds this weight.
8. How do I check in when flying with a bike?
We have always checked into our flight as normal when flying with a bike. The only difference we have ever experienced is that once the check-in process has been completed, we had to take our bikes to an oversize luggage drop.
9. Where do I collect my bike at the end of the flight?
Bike boxes and cases will always arrive at an oversize luggage pickup point rather than the standard luggage carousel. The location of these varies from airport to airport but they are well-marked, and we have always found them easily.
Other information about traveling with your bike
Since 2013 we have taken our bikes on many international and domestic flights and have learned a lot along the way about how it all works. All the articles below are based on our own experiences and share the things we learned along the way. If you have never traveled with your bike before be sure to check some or all of them out as they will hopefully address the concerns or questions you might have.
- Taking a bike on a plane in the USA – here we delve specifically into the rules for taking a bike on a plane in the USA.
- Flying with a bike the easy way – a short overview of what you need to know about flying with a bike.
- Bike box basics helping you select the best type – an article all about bike boxes designed to help make sure you source the right one for you.
- What you need to know about taking your bike on a plane – lots of helpful information about traveling with your bike on a plane based on our own experience. Make sure you are well prepared for your journey and know what to expect at the airport.
- Bike Travel Bag guide – We go through everything about bike travel bags and include a list of over 60 different brands and models currently available.
- Useful tips about using a cardboard bike box for air travel – lots of handy information about using a cardboard bike box for the first time including where to get one, how to prepare it, and how to pack your bike.
- Shipping a bike: learn how to get the best deal – you may decide that shipping your bike is a better option for you. Learn about how the whole process works and make sure you get the best deal in the process.
How to read the information in the table.
Before you dive into the table read the definitions of what each of the columns means.
Airline name – click on the link to be taken to the airline website page that includes the bike rules.
Bike allowed free if with luggage allowances – this column identifies whether an airline charges a separate fee for bikes. Remember that for the bike (or any luggage) to be considered free it must be within the allowed weight and dimensions. If it is outside of these then normal excess baggage fees will apply.
Fee (per leg) – this is the fee that will be charged for your bike. You need to consider that this fee is charged “per leg” so the fee will be doubled for a return flight.
Maximum dimension allowed for bike bag – this is designated as either linear or length. In the case of linear, you need to add together the length, height, and width of the bag/box and ensure it is less than the amount set. Where the limit is based on the length you need to make sure the longest side of the bag/box does not exceed the limit.
Maximum weight allowed for the bike – airlines set a maximum weight allowance for bikes which is set out in this column. The maximum weight for any single piece of luggage is 32kg and anything over this weight will not be accepted even if your total luggage allowance is above this. Some airlines set a maximum limit for bikes at 23kg even though an economy fare will allow you 30kg which is something to keep in mind.
Pre-booking required – there are quite a number of airlines that require you to advise them if you are planning on bringing a bike. Some require this at the time of booking while others stipulate it must be completed within a certain period of time prior to travel. If you do not do this your bike won’t be allowed on board.
By clicking on the + button next to the airline name you can see the luggage allowances based on the fare type. Where an airline charges a fee for all luggage the columns are blank.
Check airlines and airfares
To help you with your choice of airline to fly with your bicycle you can head over to Skyscanner to see which airline gives you the best price for your proposed trip. We find it a great resource to quickly check prices on a proposed route as well as check to see which airlines actually fly on the route you choose. The search results show you the cheapest option, the fastest option, and the best option, which is a combination of the first 2. Once you click on a fare that suits you the site lists the different booking sites you can choose from to actually make the booking. In many instances, you actually make the booking directly with the airline.
We have used Skyscanner extensively over many years and it is usually one of the first things we check when planning a flight, with or without our bicycles. It saves you lots of time by comparing hundreds of fares and airlines so you don’t need to head to multiple websites and do the research yourself. Note, if you do make a booking after clicking on the link, we earn a small commission from Skyscanner. This helps fund our website to continue to provide lots of free information about traveling with a bicycle.
The table below shows all the measurements and weights in metric. If you would prefer to read the table with imperial measurements just click on the button below and you will see exactly the same information but in inches and pounds.
This table was last updated in late December 2022 and is reviewed every few months. Please ensure you check with the airline directly before you book your travel to confirm that the rules have not changed.