Taking the bike while flying can be perfect to have mobility and adventures abroad. However, there are aspects that you should know in terms of Carrier Rules, Packaging Options & Best Practices, and pitfalls when going/leaving the airport. This article will provide you concise information that you can use for planning ahead.
- Research airline policies: Different airlines have varying rules and fees for transporting bicycles. Check the specific airline's website or contact their customer service to understand their guidelines, weight limits, and any additional charges for carrying a bike. See list Carrier rules below as well.
- Choose the right bike case:
- Invest in a durable and appropriate bike bag or case to protect your bicycle during the flight. Soft-sided bags are generally lighter and easier to store (it may even be possible to pedal to/from the airport with it!), while hard cases provide superior protection.
- A good alternative might be a cardboard box from a local bike shop which can easily be disposed after reaching your destination. Attention: Many cardboard bike boxes fit a whole 28 inch bicycle without the need to disassemble the front wheel. There is a real risk that airlines will not accept boxes that large. Thus make sure to reduce the length of the box to fit your bike with front wheel disassembled. The height of the box shouldn't be larger than necessary either.
- Another option is to buy cling wrap in a supermarket and wrap your bike with it. Some airports offer cling-wrapper services for a fee.
- Pack your bike properly: Disassemble and pack your bike securely. Remove pedals, front wheels, and handlebars, and wrap delicate parts with padding or bubble wrap. Use appropriate padding or foam to protect the frame. Label each component and keep a detailed inventory to ensure nothing is lost.
- Deflate tires and remove CO2 cartridges: Deflate your bike tires to avoid damage due to changes in cabin pressure. Additionally, remove any CO2 cartridges, as they are not allowed on flights.
- Check travel restrictions: Before flying, confirm the rules and regulations of the destination country regarding the transportation of bicycles. Some places may have specific requirements or restrictions.
- Arrive early at the airport: Arrive well in advance to allow sufficient time for check-in and any additional procedures related to transporting your bicycle. A good rule of thumb is to arrive 30min earlier than if you didn't had the bike.
- Plan for potential fees: Be prepared to pay any excess baggage fees or charges for transporting your bicycle. Some airlines might have flat fees, while others may charge based on the weight and size of your bike package.
- Insure your bike: Consider getting travel insurance that covers your bike for damage or loss during the journey. Some airlines may offer limited coverage, but it's essential to have adequate protection.
- Secure loose parts: Make sure all loose parts, tools, and accessories are safely stored inside the bike bag or case. Secure any attachments firmly to prevent damage during handling.
- Communicate with airport staff: Inform the airline staff that you are traveling with a bicycle when checking in. They can guide you through the process and handle your bike with care.
- Practice reassembly: If possible, practice reassembling your bike before the flight to ensure you can do it efficiently upon arrival at your destination.
Flying with electric bicycles is essentially impossible unless you meet one of the following conditions:
1) the battery is not a lithium ion battery (careful with spillable liquids in that case tho)
2) the battery has been removed and will travel by some other means to your destination (or alternatively you'll rent a battery once there)
3) you have the bicycle delivered as air cargo - this is significantly more expensive and will involve more hassle than using normal luggage. Plan a couple of days ahead
While you are allowed to carry (spare) lithium ion batteries in both carry-on and checked luggage under certain conditions, the limits are so low that virtually all practical e-bikes will vastly exceed them. Furthermore, the system operates on a "whitelist" basis (i.e. Listing the exceptions to an otherwise general ban) and electric bicycles are not on the whitelist. Those rules are created by ICAO/IATA and thus apply globally, even prior written permission by your airline will not guarantee a bicycle that violates those rules can be carried as luggage.
If you plan to fly with an electric bicycle with the battery removed, make sure that check-in staff can easily inspect the bicycle to verify that it is indeed battery-free and do not use any boxes that indicate lithium ion batteries as those are not allowed to be checked in as luggage even if the claim they make is erroneous.
|Airline||Fee||Max Weight||Max dimensions||Accepted Packagings||Updated by||Notes|
|Air Canada||US$50||32 kg||Hard-shell bike case||2023-05||It’s accepted on a space-available basis only. The fee applies to one-way flights and for each way of travel on round-trip and multi-segment flights.|
|Air France||Between €40-100||23 kg||300 cm||"Protective" container. Cardboard Box & hard-shell case.||Request should be submitted to the customer service 48 hours before departure. Transport is only with prior approval. Bike box are available for purchase on most counters.|
|American Airlines||Free||23 kg||Anything. Only covers damage with hard-shell case or cardboard box.||2022-10|
|Avianca||Between US$25-105||33 kg||230 linear cm||"Specifically designed" luggage or cardboard box||2023-05|
|Azul Linhas Aéreas||Between US$50-150||Hard-shell bike case||2022-10|
|Delta Airlines||Free||23kg||Anything. Only covers damage with hard-shell case or box.||2022-10|
|Gol Linhas Aéreas||Free||23kg||Anything||2023-05|
|Iberia||Free if long-haul, else between 50 and 60 USD||"Appropriate" box or bag.||2023-05||Iberia provides a box with 131+72+21 cm dimensions for a €20 charge on selected airports.|
|ITA Airways||Between US$45-140||23kg||300 linear cm||Rigid container that "can't be bent out of shape"||2023-05|
|Lufthansa||At least US$285|
|TAP Air Portugal||Between US$77-162||32 kg||Anything||2023-05||Free if below 23 kg and 158 linear cm|
|United||Free||23 kg||Anything. Only covers damage with hard-shell case or box.||2022-10|