Airlines Make ‘Bike-Touring’ Difficult

As you can see above, getting a bike ready for airline travel can be an arduous task. Admittedly, bike-touring might not be a large cross section of the population and even David French, who is a regular bike-tourist, agreed in a recent article.

But since the late 1970s, when French brought his his bike along on trips to Europe, he says it has become increasingly difficult and costly for people to travel with their bikes.

Fees have increased enormously for someone bringing a bike on a plane. As Christopher Elliott writes, someone looking to bike-tour should expect to spend between $100 and $300 to check their bike as luggage.

airport bike

Courtesy of Ride for Climate

Elliott writes that traveling with a bike is also a risky venture and one can only hope that after checking their bike with the airline that it returns safe and sound. As with shipping a bike via UPS or FedEx, the better care used when packing and preparing a bike for travel, the more likely it reaches its destination intact.

However, in the case of one traveler, Elliott writes his $3,700 bike was properly packed and was still damaged during transit.

Courtesy of Andi on the Road

Courtesy of Andi on the Road

In an effort to circumvent some of the difficulties associate with bringing a bike along on a trip, Elliott has a few suggestions for people looking to bike-tour.

1) Ship your bike. Companies such as FedEx and UPS can sometimes pack and ship your bike for less that what the airlines might charge in fees. You can also declare a value beforehand and purchase insurance. Additionally, if you hire UPS to pack your bike for you, your bike will be well protected and the claims process for any damage is much simpler.

2) Late check-in. Elliott describes a way to circumvent so of the fees and troubles by arriving late. If you arrive just before take off, often airlines staffs will be under pressure and sometimes waive fees, or the task of dimension and weigh checks simply to get you and the bike on the plane. It’s a risky move, but it could payoff. On the other hand, it’s also a good way to get separated from your bike.

3) Rent. Unless you are bike-touring for an event or have a highly specialized bike, why not rent or bike share? Renting or using a bike share could save hundreds on packing and airline costs and can still provide the same experience. Many countries around the world have bike shares, especially in parts where people commonly tour.

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Filed under advice, bicycling, bike sharing, Travel