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  1. #1
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    Air Travel / Bike Excess Luggage Cost

    Hi there,

    how do you folks travel with your bikes on planes? My experience for a bike in an evoc bike travel bag is:

    - Lufthansa GER>USA 100€/USA>GER $150
    - United within US $150

    Anyone here has recommendation for a bike-friendly airline or a credit card that reduces or eliminates fees for a checked bike?

    ~Ben
    IMTB

  2. #2
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    We just returned from Europe a couple weeks ago. Flew roundtrip with two EVOC bags. We flew Alaska/American there and Icelandic home. We were only charge $100 on the way and zero on the way back. It probably helped that we shared one duffle, so only 3 bags total including bikes between two people. The advertised rates were much higher than our reality.

  3. #3
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    Flying from Sweden to New Zealand (basically the antipode) was cheap as long as I was within weight limits. I had to dump 5kg of stuff on the way out to avoid a $750 fee.

    Yeah, not a typo.

    Otherwise, oversize was cheap. Over weight was not.
    Yamaguchi Cross • YT Jeffsy • Salsa Mukluk & Vaya • Canyon Commuter

  4. #4
    I am the owl
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    Every airline is different, so shop around and include the fee when pricing your ticket. Had some friend pay $150 each way because they bought the cheapest airfare. The rest of us flew another airline with slightly more expensive tickets but fees that were half the price.

    Virgin and Southwest are some of the cheapest within the US. Within the US, if you have the extra time, you can ship via BikeFlights.com which can save some hassle at the airport and costs less than some of the more expensive airlines.
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  5. #5
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    It's also commonly a crapshoot flying out of Europe and back to the states. Sometimes nothing, sometimes what the major carrier would charge and sometimes whatever the baggage check in person decides in your smaller airport. I've had all three happen.

    As has been said, shop around and prepare for it to be more than you expect.

  6. #6
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    Thx! Transatlantic so far I always paid less to the US than the other way.
    I believe last time LH was 70€ EU>US and $100 US>EU. Think SQ is the same.
    The ridiculous part is that I never found a way paying less than $150 for national US.

    Btw. transatlantic sometimes has these Economy Premium tickets for just 50 more. That includes more legspace, 2 free regular suitcases and an orange juice. Totally worth to ckeck that out.
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  7. #7
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    Southwest within the US is good ($50 per flight when I used them). British airways and Iceland air were great in 2012.
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  8. #8
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by NickSmolinske View Post
    Southwest within the US is good ($50 per flight when I used them). British airways and Iceland air were great in 2012.
    Southwest was $75 each way (Indy to Vegas) when I went in March 2016.

    Bikeflights would have cost less for my wife's mtb, but mine would have been much more (full suspension fatbike). Total cost about the same. Southwest was a bit simpler overall. I packed enough tools to do the assembly/repacking at our destination so we didn't have to deal with additional downtime (and cost) waiting for a shop to assemble them.

  9. #9
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    The amount of money I've spent over the years on airline bike fees... ugh don't even want to think about it. Couple tips I've learned from experience over the years....

    *If possible I try to chose my flights based on the fees airlines charge. I've paid more for a ticket because the total cost with the bike charge would be less than flying with another airline and their higher bike fees. Paying slightly more for a ticket has saved me in the total cost.

    *It all depends on who's at the counter. Be nice, know your fees, weights, allowances, etc.. for the airline you're flying with. Phone ahead, talk to them, make sure so that when you go to the counter you know what to expect. I've been undercharged because the staff didn't know the bike fee or charged incorrectly. I am ok with that.

    *Always be under 50lbs (or whatever their weight limit is)... Try to weigh up ahead of time if you can. Sometimes if you're close they won't care, again depends on who's working the counter. Be ready to take out some weight if you're over though because the cost of overweight, as some have mentioned above increases the price tremendously. I've never paid overweight but have (successfully) had to do the ol' prop the box up with the toe to 'take off a couple pounds' when I've put it on the scale if I saw that it was over. I slept fine.
    *An empty cardboard bike box weighs around 8lbs or so. Add a 25lbs single speed hardtail, bags, gear, etc.. it adds up quick. Pack light and carry what you can on board as your carry on to avoid overweight fees.

    I fly from Vancouver Canada and here are some of the prices I remember...

    *United $150 from Canada in Canadian dollars $150 from the US in US dollars. I've actually paid the return fee at the airport in Canada to save on the exchange difference. Other times they wouldn't let me.
    *Alaska $50
    *Air Canada.. ~$75 to $100 (broken derailleurs twice with them!)
    *West Jet (A Western Canadian local carrier) $25! couldn't believe it. Will be flying with them as often as possible from here on out.
    Most North American carriers are in the $50 to $150 range.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
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    I flew into Calgary back in June using American and paid $150.00. It was almost as much for my bike as it was for me.

    I believe that United, American and Delta all charge the same amount.

    If I know that I am going somewhere in the continental US in advance, I'd use bikeflights or similar.
    Help chart the mountains at www.appalachianbiketrails.org

  11. #11
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    Cool! Ever used it? Experiences anyone?
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  12. #12
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    Cool! Ever used it? Experiences anyone?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoomShakkaLagga View Post
    Cool! Ever used it? Experiences anyone?
    I've used bikeflights a bunch. I've only had to file one claim when Fedex messed up my delivery and destroyed a rotor and saddle in the process. Bikeflights reimbursed me super promptly for the replacement cost of the damaged parts. I highly recommend them. For international travel, there are some TransPacific carriers (like Singapore Airlines or Asiana) that allow one bike free regardless of the size of the box. I'm not sure if this policy still exists today however.

  14. #14
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    I have so far had great luck with the ruster sports armored hen house.
    with this (expensive) bag you get a shaped protective wheel case and a wheeled case for the rest of the bike- it does not make the airlines official measurement though the company says it does but i have never been charged. I am a diamond with delta though so i may not get judged as harshly - so far multiple domestic trips, 2 trips to europe and intra europe flights

  15. #15
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    I made two US flights (round trip, so 4) on Southwest with my Raleigh 20 disassembled and packed into a regulation-sized suitcase. Southwest lets you take two checked bags with no additional fees, so one for bike and one for luggage, and I was all set. I didn't particularly like riding all day on my Twenty, but it flew free, so it was my go-to bike because I didn't want to pay to fly my full-sized bike. Since I'm always shopping for cheap airfare, and since ticket prices fluctuate, but luggage prices don't, it always seemed like it was going to cost as much or more for my bike to fly as it would for me to fly. And no peanuts for the bike! Anyhow, because my Twenty was a cobbled together mixture of new and old parts held together mostly with happy thoughts, I found myself stranded and had to rent a car when a very specific, irreplaceable part went missing.

    That was the last straw, and started looking at ways to affordably travel with my "real" bike. Solution: Get a new bike! (solution to all biking dilemmas)

    Sadly, my travel plans have been derailed multiple times since I got my World Troller World Troller | Bikes | Surly Bikes but I have a couple of trips in the works for this year that should let me finally test out the flying ability of my S&S coupled, bike-packing bike. It cost more up front, but, as has been mentioned, it seems like there's a minimum $150 roundtrip, bike fee for any US flight, so it should pay for itself eventually. In the mean time, it's been useful to put it in a few trunks that it otherwise would not have fit in.

    Some airlines charge for a 2nd, checked bag, and I don't think I could pack for a bike-packing trip and end up with only one, checked bag, so there's still a chance for fees, but Southwest, at least, still allows two bags.

  16. #16
    Waldmeister
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    Just put it on an international Emirates plane. For free!
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  17. #17
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    On Aer Lingus (good for trips to Ireland and Germany, possibly more) bikes fly free. They count as a standard checked bag. I went to the LBS, traded them a 6-pack for a bike box with all the extra padding they could find, and had no issues. Aer Lingus was super friendly about the whole thing, helping us find all the right oversized luggage dropoff points, and everything.

    My new bike has S&S couplers, so I've been bringing it on all my business trips for free. If it is an option, I really can't recommend this enough. It makes travel with a bike SO EASY.

  18. #18
    Waldmeister
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    Apparently also Edelweiss (Swiss) is for free. Not sure if they do international.
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  19. #19
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    Alaska Air $25 within U.S. !!
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  20. #20
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    Yup way to go Alaska Airlines. Just flew 2 bikes all the way to Eurobike for $25/ea. Thank you Alaska Air. Not so lucky on KLM on the way back, I think we paid ~ $100 per bike.

  21. #21
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    Wht airport does alaska fly into in germany?
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  22. #22
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    Planning a trip to Moab in the spring and think we will be flying United into SLC so suspect we will be nailed with fees. We have EVO bags so will try to be nice and hope for the best. Even at these prices the bikeflights costs are similar to the fees plus we got sick of either paying a shop to build them up or the time and hassle of doing them ourselves and dealing with wrecked boxes etc.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajavt View Post
    Planning a trip to Moab in the spring and think we will be flying United into SLC so suspect we will be nailed with fees. We have EVO bags so will try to be nice and hope for the best. Even at these prices the bikeflights costs are similar to the fees plus we got sick of either paying a shop to build them up or the time and hassle of doing them ourselves and dealing with wrecked boxes etc.
    Within the U.S. all the big ones screw you where and just because they can. They won’t even feed you on a 5hr flight. Only Alaska treats a bike as a pice of luggage and “only” charges $25. The other U.S. based airlines all charge $150 to my knowledge. One-way.

    Internationally it’s another story. Here they got competition and at least treat you like a human. They have to, but still... flying non-US airlines is the better deal for your bike. And they treat you a bit nicer. #freecocktailsevenincannedclass

    Alternatively to Evoc I think also Dakine now makes a decent flexible bag. My Evoc fits my XXL Hightower with its 1270mm wheelbase and 29x2.4 tires. I recommend removing the discs from the wheels.

    Good luck!
    IMTB

  24. #24
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    Using bikeflights, within the US, you'll probably pay $75 to $100 each way ground (based on the amount insurance you get) which is still way cheaper than the $150 each way for bikes that the major carriers will charge you (except for Alaska). The only caveat is that if you're coming from the East Coast, it may take 5 days for you to get your bikes to your destination so you have to pre-plan before and after your trip (otherwise, you maybe out of a bike to ride at home before and after the ride).
    An alternative is renting in Moab. Lots of good bike shops with decent rental equipment there.

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