Avoid Excess Baggage Fees when Traveling with your Bike in the US

An easy-to-use guide to airline bike baggage fees when traveling in North America.

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“JetBlue and Air Canada
come up cheapest” 

 

We’ve given you a breakdown of European airline baggage fees when you’re traveling with your bike, so now it’s time to look at the next region in the world where many of our customers are based – the USA.

When traveling with your bicycle – road, triathlon or mountain bike – it’s important to know what the situation is with excess baggage costs, but many airlines like to make it as difficult as possible for you to find out what the additional luggage charges are. Those of you who have traveled with your bike before will know that you’ll often find that the fees can sting on something as bulky as a bike, sometimes being nearly as much as the flight itself cost you! Here’s our easy-to-use guide to US airline bike baggage fees to help you spend less and avoid any nasty surprises.

The various North American airlines have markedly different policies on bicycles compared to the rest of world. The biggest difference being the weight and dimension restrictions are virtually impossible to meet with a bicycle. Almost all airlines state that if a bicycle is under 62 dimensional inches (that’s the length + height + width) and under 50lbs then they’ll accept it as part of normal baggage and the fee will be waived. So each airline sets a second limit which must be met to avoid further additional fees on top of what you’re already paying. Meet the right size and weight, and you can still come away with a cheap deal, and with Scicon Bags build to be lightweight and protective, you’re already on the right track.

** Note – since writing, Hawaiian Airlines no longer accepts soft shell cases – we’ve requested comment and will be following up with further news on this.

Who’s the cheapest?
Alaska Airlines come in best of the bunch allowing you to take your bike in a padded bike bag or box as part of your checked luggage allowance, the only airline in North America to do so. JetBlue and Air Canada come up the next cheapest options at $50 each way, with Jet Blue allowing more weight, and Air Canada allowing for a larger dimensional size. Just a small price hike up from this point, at $75 you find the airlines Frontier, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Sun County Airlines.

Who’s the most expensive?
At over double the price of most others, Delta, United Airlines and American Airlines at $150. Important to remember though – shop around for your ticket prices as well, because a cheap ticket on one of these could still work out better when the bike is added on too.

See the infographic below for a full breakdown of prices, at the time that this article was created.

Some extra tips

Book in advance when possible. Some airlines only allow you to take your bike with you on a standby basis, so if you just rock up on the day you end up disappointed.

Print out the airline’s policy on bike baggage from their website in case the desk clerk is a doughnut. We’ve seen full-blown arguments with the check-in staff behind the desk due to their own incompetence of not knowing their company policy on checked baggage and sports equipment. This way, you come prepared.

Once you’ve succeeded in getting the best deal for flying with your bike, the last thing you want is to get there to find that your bikes have been trashed in transit.

So, make sure that you buy the best bike bag or bike box for your needs with SCICON – the leader in bike transportation worldwide – such as the Scicon AeroComfort 3.0 range or for a hard case, the Scicon AeroTech Evolution X.

These were correct as of 12th July 2018 for flights within the US. However, we do recommend double-checking with the airline before you fly (all links provided below).

Watch one of our how-to-pack videos on our YouTube here.

Design credit Yellow Jersey.

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