Don’t Let The Airlines Cheat You: Fly Your Bike For Free

Have you ever booked a ticket with an airline that promised to fly your bike for free (or for a certain price), but when you showed up at the airport they wanted to charge you a completely different price to ship your bike? It’s not a fun situation to find yourself in… and it can cost you hundreds of dollars. But it doesn’t have to happen to you!

In this short video I give you a quick and easy tip for making sure your bike flies for the price listed on the airline’s company website.

Even if you are not flying with an airline that promises to fly your bicycle for free, you should still print out the bicycle baggage policy off their website on the same day that you order your tickets. Many airlines have raised their fees for bicycles to as much as $350, so if you fly with an airline that promises to fly your bicycle for $80 and you show up at the airport and they want $350, having that piece of paper can really save your butt!

Good luck! And let me know how this strategy works out for you. If it works, I want to hear about it! And if it doesn’t, I want to hear about that as well.


9 thoughts on “Don’t Let The Airlines Cheat You: Fly Your Bike For Free

  1. Dave Gieger says:

    I’m planning a tour this summer and need to fly to get to the starting location. Instead of bringing the bike on the plane, I was considering ground shipping it via UPS or FedEx to a bike shop near the airport in which I’m arriving. Benefits of this include not having to lug a heavy box through the airports, avoiding airline fees, less likelihood of damage, and you can use the tools and expertise from the bike shop to re-assemble your bike. Depending on where you’re going, it may be a better option than flying with a bike. I think it’s worth looking into.

  2. Martin Thompson says:

    Hi Dave,

    Depending on where you’re travelling, Cycling Rentals offers Bike rental and other services to cyclists, who would prefer to avoid the hassles you listed – such as lugging a flight case from your home to your trip departure point – and then get the flight case to your destination point…

    We will deliver a high quality Touring / Road / Mountain bike, ready to ride, straight to your departure point – all you have to do is drop the bike off at a pre-determined location and we handle the rest.

    We can also shuttle luggage and flight cases for the rider who can’t leave his wheels at home. Look us up!

    Happy Riding,

    Martin KT

  3. Norm Michaels says:

    I think that’s a great tip and very smart to be prepared and have a plan in place…Good on you!

    Some of us love our two wheeled steeds and made many modifications so they fit perfect. This makes renting even high quality bikes a pain in the butt (pardon the pun) on tours. This forces us to ship our personalized perfect fit bikes to location….Still, I think rentals are a great idea, our local chamber of commerce has okay Trek bike rentals for the 400 trail.

    Dave G.,
    You can also ship via Greyhound Package in the USA and Greyhound courier in Canada…I find Greyhound rates to be MUCH less expensive than by Train, UPS, FedEx or the Airlines for shipping bikes. Once you understand the Greyhound system of shipping life becomes easier.

    Last year a few of us could only get away for a quick Four day weekend but we wanted to make the best of our time so we flew to Montana but shipped are bikes via Greayhound to Kalispell, MT then biked Glacier National park in Montana then head up to Banff National Park in AB, Canada. We could have rented bikes there but the cost of shipping was about the same for bike rental and they were not our bikes.


  4. Karl Geib says:

    I have a set of Ortlieb Backroller Classic Panniers.

    Can I run them in the front of the bike and run some larger panniers in the rear?

    When panniers are described as front or rear, I assume the only distinction is size.


    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Yes Karl. You can typically use a set of rear panniers in the front of your bike. They may be a bit big and hard to control at first, but as long as you don’t go completely overboard with what you pack in them, you should be just fine. The front and rear indications are typically referencing the size of the panniers. Front panniers can be used in the rear… and rear panniers can be used in the front. There is nothing that would prevent you from doing this.

  5. Robert says:

    I flew to San Francisco recently with Frontier Airlines. Since I had to put my rack in a separate box, having two check in items was inevitable. They charged at the time (March 2013) $20 per check in item and a bike box counted as one with no additional fee, but the real kicker was if I upgraded my ticket for $34 then the first two check in items were for free! So I basically got to watch movies on the flight for free and save some money on my check in items. If you shop around, there can be some sweet deals out there.

  6. Trevor says:

    Also, check with both airports on the dimensions and packing regulations. I flew from Luton, UK to Nice, France with my bike and then back From Zurich, Switzerland back to Luton, UK all on the same itinerary with the same airline. They almost didn’t let me fly back with it from Zurich because the bike packaged up was over the dimensions which they would allow. There was of course a way around it, and a small packaging fee to pay but this isn’t what you want to hear at the end of a bike tour. It is worth checking airport and airline regulations. Just because the airline lets you book it a certain way doesn’t mean an airport will allow you to do it.

  7. Allen says:

    In 2009 Air Lingus let us check our tandem in a sofa bag as a normal bag. It weighed about a Kg too much, but they did not complain.

  8. Art Bedard says:

    For the past year I have been using the Aerus Biospeed softside bike bag(HumblePower $285 w/free shipping) for domestic US bicycle air travel. This soft side bag has now ‘bling’, in other words is does not scream out bicycle. To date I have been only charged excess baggage fee. Very similar to golf clubs, .etc. My last trip cost me $25 extra each way for my bike. My bag has paid for itself after just two trips. The biggest problem is trying to get my friends to buy their own!

Comments are closed.

Send this to a friend