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Rail and bus travel with bicyclesFlying with bicycles

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.

Packing the bike into a soft shell case at the airport main hall

Best practices edit

  • 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:
      Putting a bicycle inside a Rinko Bag before departing on a plane. This approach requires wrapping some of the sensitive parts as the case doesn't offer any meaningful protection, and it is only recommended for transporting robust bikes.
      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.
      • Rinko Bags in particular can afford the best possible mobility, as they can be packed inside other bags or attached directly to the saddle rails. However, they do provide minimal (if any) protection and as such there's an increased risk of the bike not being accepted at the check-in plus unwanted damage to the frame and parts. This can be mitigated by wrapping the sensitive parts of the bike with plastic and cardboard left-overs (which sometimes can be found at the airport itself)
        Transporting the bike & luggage on a cardboard box.
    • 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.
    Packing the bike with plastic wrappers at the airport
    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.

E-Bikes edit

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 though).

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.

Carrier rules edit

Non-foldable bikes edit

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
LATAM Between US$65-125 Anything 2022-10
Lufthansa At least US$285
Scoop Free 23 kg Anything 2022-10
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

See also edit

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