I was planning a trip home for the holidays with the intention of driving down with a friend (bringing my bike with me of course), but things have changed. Luckily, airline tickets are cheap, but I still want to bring my bike. Having never brought a bike to check as luggage (I don't even check luggage), I was wondering if the process is hell to go through and if I would be better off just shipping my bike down ahead of time. I am willing to get to the airport extra early to stand in line and make sure my bike gets on and I get on, and I can deal with transporting my bike there in a box on the subway. But if it's not that costly to ship and I can get the box for free, is it just plain easier to send it ahead of time (and safer?). What say you, Bike Forum readers?
I will post the rules of Continental, for bike luggage, since that is who I am planning on flying with. Also, I ride a road frame converted into fixed if that helps you deduce the weight (I don't think I would get charged the $100, do you?)
Continental Airlines accepts a non-motorized bicycle with single seat or up to two non-motorized bicycles packed in one case as checked baggage. The following are bicycle restrictions:
If the bike(s) are packed in a container that is over 50 lbs (23kg) and/or 62 (157 cm) total linear inches (L + W + H), a $95 service charge applies each way. The service charge is in addition to any excess baggage charges that may apply.
Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed or
All loose items must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar protective material or
Bicycle should be transported in a sealed box. If a box is needed, see the Courtesy Bags section of this site.
Continental is not liable for damage to bicycles that do not have the handlebars fixed sideways and pedals removed, handlebars and pedals encased in plastic foam or similar material or bicycles not contained in a cardboard containers or hard-sided cases.
Note: Bicycles will not be accepted during an excess baggage embargo when no excess baggage is allowed.